Henry Swann

Created by Charles Salzberg

“I’ve put in for a personality transplant but evidently I’m way down on the list.”
— from Swann’s Down

Unlicensed Big Apple skip tracer (calling himself a detective would raise too many expectations) HENRY SWANN works out of a beatdown office in a beatdown Manhattan building full of Salvation Army furniture, which is fine with him.

Since his wife was killed, the eternally grumpy Swann has few ambitions, and as he makes perfectly clear in the opening of his debut, Swann’s Last Song (2008), no illusions left either… Or “at least none that’s (he’s) aware of.” He himself boils his life down to: “No delusions, no pride, no romantic notions of  what the future might bring, and absolutely no sense of the great adventure of life.”

He goes on to admit that most of his cases, he muses, are “a royal pain in the ass,” but every now and then he and his, uh, peculiar, enigmatic sometime-partner, a disbarred lawyer named Goldblatt, land a gig finding someone nobody else wants to look for: a psychic scam artist,  a hitman’s girlfriend, a globetrotting missing husband, a lonely writer’s runaway girlfriend

What puts the series over the top for me, though, is Henry’s motormouth first person narration. One moments he’s pompously dropping quotes from Sartre and Epictetus or reciting Shakespeare like an erudite Eeyore,  the next he’s riffing away on a tangent, swinging from high-brow to potty talk and back again, like a last chance stand-up comic with the spotlight sweats. He needn’t worry — with a routine like Swann’s, he could be a headliner..

Besides the Henry Swann detective series, novelist, journalist and writing instructor Salzberg has written several non-fiction books involving sports, including On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place: Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century and From Set Shot to Slam Dunk: An Oral History of the NBA; and the co-author of Soupy Sales’ My Zany Life and Times. His freelance work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, Elle, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, The New York Times Book Review, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. The book which introduced Swann, Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. Also nominated for a Shamus was Second Story Man (2017), a terse standalone featuring a cop, a retired investigator and an infamous cat burglar.


  • “I’m afraid that’s not the only fallacy in your education.”
    — Swann had his doubts about Goldblatt’s story (Swann’s Down)


  • “Whether this is your first Swann adventure or the latest, you won’t want to miss the brass-knuckle punch that is Swann’s Down. Trust me.”
    — Alex Segura
  • “If you like your PIs sexy, well-read and wise-cracking, Henry Swann is your man.”
    — Rosemary Harris on Swann Dives In


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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