The Nazgūl were the rock band that had it all, but their career was extinguished at its peak when their singer was shot dead at a concert in '71. Now it's 10 years later and their erstwhile promoter has been ritually murdered in a manner that connects with that earlier killing. Sandy Blair, a failing novelist and ex-journalist, finds himself embarking on a quest to get to the bottom of the murder.
The journey takes him across America, interviewing the remaining members of the Nazgūl and meeting up with his old friends from the '60s. In everyone he meets he sees the disillusion and dissolution of the '60s dream, and he struggles to reconcile his life now with the idealism of his youth. Meanwhile he discovers that Edan Morse, suspected years ago of social agitation that verged on terrorism, is trying to engineer an unlikely reunion of the Nazgūl, for some dark and disturbing purpose.
The novel is a requiem for the 1960s: its hopes, its liberation, its friendships and most of all its music. I found myself wishing I was at the concerts Martin so thrillingly describes, and that I could go on amazon and order the Nazgūl's albums! But a bigger ambition than nostalgia becomes apparent, as the book edges into supernatural territory and Sandy Blair's fight to maintain his ideals becomes crucial to the future of the world.
Like everything George R R Martin writes, the novel is smoothly engineered, peopled with richly sympathetic characters, deeply felt and boldly imagined. A powerful and satisfying read.