Crime Song

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

Frank Marr was a star narcotics detective with the DC police until his addictions to alcohol and cocaine forced him into early retirement. Now barely eking out a living as a PI, Marr gets a call from his aunt and agrees to check up on his cousin Jeffrey who has been cutting classes at George Washington University. Marr tracks Jeffrey to a nightclub and quickly sees him engaged in some low-level drug dealing. But then Marr's own home is burglarized and the dead body in the kitchen is Jeffrey's. 

Marr searches for Jeffrey's killer and his missing property by doggedly and tenaciously searching in pawn shops and thrift stores, and calling in some favors. Marr's discovery of a few stolen items leads him to a cab driver who is very reluctantly enlisted in his search and then leads to a junkie, some drug dealers and one crooked cop. As a high functioning addict, Marr also needs to replenish his dwindling drug supply and is willing to commit plenty of violent and illegal acts to get his way.

This is a gritty story with plenty of action and violence and is another strong entry in the Frank Marr series.

I received an eARC via Netgalley and Mulholland Books with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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Retired Detective turned PI Frank Marr is asked by his aunt to keep on eye on his cousin Jeffrey.  She is worried and has good reason.  Frank tracks him  and finds out he is working as a dealer.  He wants to know more for a variety of reasons, one being that he is an addict and this could lead to him replenishing his stash.  Shortly after he returns home to find that his house has been broken into and a dead body is found in the kitchen. He soon discovers that he has stepped into something, but will get to the truth even if it lands him in a place he doesn't want to be.  Frank is a flawed character that at times is hard to like, he tries to do right, but his methods aren't always honest. A great follow-up, with plenty of action, to the first book The Second Girl
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I started reading Crime Song only a few hours after finishing The Second Girl, Swinson’s superb first Frank Marr novel. I’m very happy to report that Crime Song is yet another excellent crime novel, easily cementing Swinson among the ranks of favourite crime/thriller authors. This is a must-read series.

Crime Song picks up pretty soon after the end of The Second Girl. It’s probably not essential to have read the first novel to follow and enjoy this one, however there is some overlap in cases and plot — certain events during The Second Girl, while adequately covered, do have repercussions during Crime Song.

As with the first novel, Crime Song hits the ground running. Marr is once again thinking about his next score, while also having to deal with his nephew, a student at GW who seems to have landed himself in a spot of bother. After conducting some investigative work, he returns to discover that his home has been burglarized.

As the personal and professional collide, he decides to help the DCPD in their investigations — tracking not only his lost property, but also trying to find out who was responsible. Perhaps to pass on information to the cops, perhaps to mete out some justice of his own. As events spiral out of control, he must contend with suspicious former partners, gang bangers, corrupt cops, and his own cocaine addiction.

I won’t discuss the plot anymore than that. Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning, and ended up reading this quicker than the first novel. Swinson’s prose is superb — tightly composed, with authentic dialogue; his attention to detail is excellent, but not exhausting (I have it on good authority that his procedural detail is all spot-on, which no doubt accounts for how well it reads). His characters are all interesting and well-rounded. Returning characters have grown and been altered (in a couple of instances) by their experiences in the first novel.

Marr himself continues to battle his inner demons, while also managing to accidentally cause a lot of collateral good (I can’t think of any other way of describing it, but it has a nice ring to it). He’s a fantastic protagonist — familiar as a ‘type’ in crime and thriller fiction, but with enough original twists to make him feel wholly new. This is true of the series as a whole: as I mentioned in my first review, the novel is faithful to a number of the genre’s tropes and standards, but a combination of the excellent writing and plotting, as well as just enough twists and tweaks makes it feel very fresh and original.

I am extremely impatient for the next novel. Just brilliant. I find it very difficult not to wax hyperbolic about this series. To repeat myself: easily one of my favourite new authors and series. A must read of the year.

Very highly recommended.
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