In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Seven Demons, Nick Harkaway’s first novel under the pseudonym Aidan Truhen, is a fiercely enjoyable thriller.
The New York Times wrote of the book:
“Brilliant . . . a high-end thriller, relentlessly knowing, relentlessly brutal. It reads like Martin Amis on mescaline.”
1. Boy From New York City – Manhattan Transfer
There’s a huge debate about where The Price You Pay is set. I wrote it with an eye to New York in 1996, when I lived briefly in an apartment on East 10th and spent a lot of time in a bar where everyone wore punk tartan because it was the only place that served a beer I recognised as being like the beer at home. Although I also liked the punk tartan thing and they seemed to be okay with me being there.
However, my weird island of NYC does not describe the whole city, and real New Yorkers don’t look at Jack’s life and think “oh, cool, home!” In fact they tend to assume Jack lives in London. (Come to London. It is not remotely like that.)
But I love this song, and here’s Jack having Not Died at the end of the first book.
2. Bad Moon Rising – Credence Clearwater Revival
Aaaaand here’s Jack starting his next thing. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it’s Jack, so: everything.
3. Hammer to Fall – Queen
Switzerland loves Queen. Maybe too much. Since, after this book comes out, I will never be allowed across the border into Switzerland again, I may as well say that out loud. And this is a great song for when you’re on your way to a very civilised country to do uncivilised things like rob a bank.
4. Acid Rock – The Funkees
If you travel the way Jack travels this is your mood. Even when the plane you stole from a dead guy really needs redecorating because your predecessor in post had NO style.
5. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen
When it all goes wrong, you get a mood shift that is starker and more beautiful because the primary colours of life suddenly look different in the dark. I love this entire album. I play it on repeat when I want something mellow and melancholic. Plus I always figure Volodya looks a lot like a grizzled, incredibly scary Leonard Cohen.
6. Barracuda – Heart
I use music to kick myself around creatively, to get started in the morning, and to remind myself when necessary that Jack is primarily kinetic. He does not stand still. After a setback, he gets faster, more manic, more dangerous.
7. Layla – Derek and the Dominos
The Swiss train system – the whole European network – is totally awesome. This is the theme song for riding the rails with a bag full of detcord you are pretending is a clothes line. Seriously. Try it and see. (Only absolutely don’t, because that is both illegal and dangerously insane.)
8. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
When you have successfully concluded a tricky negotiation between parties suffering from a lack of trust emerging from recent unfortunate events and you have totally done that without killing anyone and you should get a pat on the back for basically Nobel Crime Prizing yourself through a difficult day.
9. Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
When your new identity has a whole sexy pirate thing going on and it is very important that everyone is busy looking at the sexy so that they do not notice it is you and kill you, your entry music is important. Accept no substitutes.
10. How Bizarre – OMC
O gosh you say someone is screwing with your life and you are super unhappy with that outcome? Gosh I guess it would not have happened if you were not evil so maybe there is a lesson here for all of us.
11. Das dörfisch nöd – Gölä Bligg
Oddly familiar track I stumbled across while looking for icefishing-themed sexy Swiss music. Welcome to my life. Incidentally, the huge-bull-and-dude artwork that goes with this song is full-on Banjo Telemark.
12. Addis Black Widow – Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics
Music to rob banks by. Secure Swiss banks, not like amateur banks. Banks with goddam standards.
13. 99 Luftballons – Nina
This is the song that plays in my head as it all comes down. Montage. Flashback. Finale. Fade to black.
Aidan Truhen lives in London. He worked in commodities of one sort or another until he was thirty, which is an age when a man wants his positive achievements to outnumber his acquittals. He’s trying to reinvent himself as a writer. We’ll see how it goes.