THE SECOND GIRL by David Swinson

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Click to purchase

Frank Marr isn’t on an official case when he saves the girl. But he knows he can’t leave her behind. So he makes up a story, one that he thinks is fairly believable and will keep the cops off his back. But then the parents of another missing girl hear about the case. And now they want to hire Frank to find their daughter too.

Frank Marr is a junkie PI and ex cop. And he’s pretty much the most unlikable character I’ve come across in some time. And yet, I couldn’t tear myself away from the story.

When we meet Marr, he’s casing a stash house for the purpose of stealing their drugs. But when he breaks in he finds a girl chained in the bathroom – and considers leaving her. Just considers, fortunately for her. But what to do with her? If he breaks her out, he can’t bring her straight to the cops. He has to have time to come up with an excuse to be there. Plus, he wants to go back and get the coke he’d planned to steal in the first place.

See, not necessarily the kind of hero you’re going to put your faith in and get behind. And yet, Marr has kept his habit a secret from almost everyone who knows him. Which is how he ends up officially hired to find the second girl. And, as it turns out, he’s the best and only guy for the job. His insight into the drug world, both from his police days and now from his current position, puts him in a position to weed out information that has so far eluded the police.

Swinson, an ex cop himself, cleverly builds a story that is pretty impossible to step away from once you’ve started. Marr is dragged into a case he wants no part of but takes on for two reasons: one, the attorney he sometimes works for and sometimes sleeps with has faith in him, and two, he actually wants to help find the missing girl.

And it’s these two reasons that start to make him someone you kind of root for in spite of everything.

All things considered, I think Swinson has created a character readers will definitely want more of. Marr’s gray moral code and willingness to break all the rules put him in line with some of the genres favorite bad boy detectives and his habit makes him unpredictable to the extreme. I’m not sure if this is the first in a planned series, but I have to say I certainly hope so.

9/16 Becky LeJeune

THE SECOND GIRL by David Swinson. Mulholland Books (June 7, 2016).  ISBN: 978-0316264174. 368p.



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