A rock 'n roll mystery

You've got to love (almost) anything that gets non-readers into a book.

A self-published mystery novel titled "Rock & Roll Homicide" was initially promoted through the MySpace site of the author, R.J. McDonnell. It's the story of the murder of a rock star whose widow, suspected of foul play, hires a young detective who is also a former musician. As he investigates, he must delve into the world of the other band members and the music business itself.

According to Market Watch, an analysis of the first 200 purchasers of the novel divided into two groups. Interestingly, about half of these were 18- to 35-year-olds who indicated that they were not book readers. (They had made statements like, "I don't read" or "I hate books" on their MySpace profiles.)

But they were devotees of rock and so their MySpace profiles helped link them to the book.

The female nonreaders seemed to like the book's male protagonist and the humor in the story. The male nonreaders tended to be musicians themselves who could relate to a detective who dreams of being a rock star.

(The other group of buyers were more traditional bookbuyers, older women who were already mystery novel readers. They were perhaps attracted to a favorable interview on online review site Armchair Interviews that praised the book's character development.)

At any rate, it's just one more sign (as if we needed one) that the book world is becoming a strange new place. Even as some of the old venues for connecting readers to books (newspaper reviews, your friendly neighborhood bookseller) seem to be under siege, surprising new ones (MySpace, online interview sites) are appearing – and are perhaps finding readers (and nonreaders) that the rest of us having not been reaching up until now.

"Rock & Roll Homicide" isn't exactly soaring up the bestseller lists. (It's now at Amazon #385,646.) But maybe it's found its own micro-universe of readers (and nonreaders), with other titles finding their way to do the same.

Those of us who love books can only hope.

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