By themselves, neither the minor continuity errors nor the infrequent tense shifts would make Swann’s Down by Charles Salzberg lose a star from me. Other than that, the prose is highly readable and concise, smooth and compelling. The plot is gripping – who wouldn’t want to find the scam artist who bilked a young woman out of her inheritance and make that scammer pay it back?
Prose and plot are there, so why did I find Swann’s Down not as satisfying as I might have liked? I think it is the characters. Goldblatt is hard to get into. He seems almost a comic figure, but then he’s supposedly former-CIA and all other kinds of seriousness. It just didn’t fit with how Swann sees him.
I found Swann himself fairly unlikable. He is grumpy and closed-minded. He has a lot of misguided views about the fairer sex, and we get everything through his perspective, so that may be why the female characters felt predictable and a little two-dimensional.
Contradictions in Swann’s character abound. For example, he sits two feet away from his (female) client on a bench, so their relationship isn’t misconstrued. Then he reaches over, squeezes her shoulder, and leaves his hand there for a while. Doesn’t fit. Swann supposedly can’t get rid of Goldblatt fast enough and doesn’t want anything to do with the man, yet he’s so curious about Goldblatt’s love-life that it seems almost like there’s jealousy or repressed bromance going on there. That jarred for me.
To sum it up in one nice furry package, I see Swann’s Down as an English short-hair cat. When they get old (and I got the impression Swann was an older man in spite of his spry physique) they get grumpy. And, as much as I love cats, they can be jerks, as Swann can be. They’re also good hunters and somewhat mysterious – again, like Swann.
I debated whether to give the book three or four stars but ended up with four because the plot is very strong and (overall) the book reads very well. So, I do recommend it for fans of the genre, with some reservations, but nothing fatal. Read it and be happy!
When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who’s swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can’t say no. Although he doesn’t actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner’s mysterious past. His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortune tellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.
While working his partner’s case, he’s approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who’s scheduled to go on trial for murder he claims he didn’t commit in a week. Swann’s search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant’s girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the Bay from Mobile, Ala. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?
Praise for Swann’s Down:
“Psychics, double-crosses, missing persons–Charles Salzberg’s latest Henry Swann book has it all. Swann’s Down is a gritty, no-frills PI novel that brings to mind greats like Reed Farrel Coleman’s Moe Prager and Michael Harvey’s Michael Kelly. 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, author of Blackout and Dangerous Ends
“From Manhattan to Coney Island to the steamy shores of Alabama, Charles Salzberg delivers a top-flight mystery with his latest Henry Swann outing. Highly recommended.”
~ Tom Straw, New York Times bestselling author as Richard Castle
Swann’s Down gives readers two intriguing mysteries for the price of one, as skip tracer Henry Swann pursues a woman who might alibi a murderer and a psychic who swindled the ex-wife of Swann’s partner. Shamus Award-nominated Salzberg does a superb job cutting between the two investigations. I kept turning pages to stay with both chases as the suspense increased to the very end. Whatever is going on, Swann is at the center of this story. His wry wit, quotes from authors and philosophers, genius for questioning suspects, and dark past make him a character readers will follow anywhere as he seeks his quarry. This is another thrilling addition to this excellent series.
~ Rich Zahradnik, Lights Out Summer, winner of the 2018 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Private Eye Novel
Henry Swann dives in where others fear to tread in Swann’s Down: Fast. Funny. And Smart. This time out, Swann crosses paths with a psycho hitman, a phony psychic and Swann’s mysterious partner, a disbarred lawyer. Who could ask for more? I hope we’ll see a lot more of Swann in the future and that this isn’t Swann’s swan song.
~ Paul D. Marks, Shamus Award-winning Author of White Heat and Broken Windows.
Read an excerpt:
Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Redbook, The New York Times Book Review and other periodicals. He has written over 20 non-fiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times. He is author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair, nominated for two Silver Falchions, Swann’s Way Out, Devil in the Hole, named one of the best crime novels of the year by Suspense Magazine. He was a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing the New York Writers Workshop where he is a Founding Member. He is a member of the MWA-NY Board.
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Charles Salzberg. There will be 6 giveaway winners. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. There will be five (5) 2nd Prize winners of one (1) Print Edition of Swann’s Down (U.S. Mailing Addresses only). The giveaway begins on May 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.