Created by David Swinson
“I certainly wouldn’t want to put my lifestyle on someone else. It ain’t for everyone.”
— Frank in Crime Song
A former Washington, D.C. narcotics cop turned P.I. with a serious coke habit, FRANK MARR is the lead in The Second Girl, which turned out out to be one of the more promising series P.I. debuts of 2016, drawing raves from everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to The New York Times Book Review, and drawing comparisons to David Simon, George Pelecanos and Richard Price. Heady stuff, indeed.
The fluke rescue of a kidnapped teenage girl drags Marr out of the shadows and into the spotlight, where his nasty little cocaine problem may be discovered — although Frank doesn’t necessarily see it as a problem. But that’s not the worst of it — in the wake of his newfound celebrity, he’s reluctantly drawn into the high-profile search for a second missing girl, whose disappearance might be connected to the first.
What saves this from being yet another knee-jerk wallow is that the author imbues Frank with a vulnerability and decency (and a hard-boiled pragmatism about drugs that would warrant a nod from Keith Richards) that transcends the stereotypes, and then keeps things moving so fast you’re drawn into Frank’s hellscape version of the world, with little time to do more than hang on. Frank may be an addict, but he’s handling it– by ripping off the same dealers he used to arrest. Of course, he thinks he’s got it completely under control, but his grip on things in tenuous at best. The moral and ethical push-and-pull makes his one of the more intriguing private eyes I’ve come across lately, and The Second Girl one of my favourite debuts of the last few years. Itwas followed the next year by Crime Song, and Trigger, the conclusion of the trilogy, is set for publication in early 2019.
The author is a former D.C. police detective, but before that was a record store owner, concert promoter and a music video producer and independent filmmaker in Southern California. He currently lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, bull mastiff, and bearded dragon, and is known to hang around with Canadians at various mystery conventions.
- “An auspicious, and gleefully amoral, series debut… (Swinson) brings the neighborhood and its criminal underworld to gritty life. . . . Marr may be a disaster on legs, but he gets inside a reader’s head with ease. . . . It’s good news that this is merely an introduction to a character who plans to return.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Second Girl
- “David Swinson steps into the mean streets of American fiction with an unforgettable character, Frank Marr, and that journey takes readers into realities most people never see. The Second Girl is a non-stop drive through American crime, punishment and even an alley or two of justice. It’s bracing to see fiction created by an author who paid his dues to learn our hidden truths.”
— James Grady, author of Six Days at the Condor
- “… as good as it gets. Deeply compelling crime fiction that is gritty, authentic, and with an anti-hero you end up rooting for. It reminded me of The Wire and I enjoyed it every bit as much. A great read; close to perfect.”
— Peggy Blair on The Second Girl
- “…Swinson is one of ther best dialogue hounds in the business…”
— Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times Book Review
- The Second Girl (2016) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- Crime Song (2017) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- Trigger (2019) | Buy this book | Kindle it!