Henry Swann is back. Both smart and smart talking, he embodies the voice and spirit of the classic hardboiled detective, a bit down on his luck but ethical to a fault. In the third book of the Henry Swann Detective Series by Charles Salzberg, Swann partners with his on-again, off-again friend Goldblatt, a gluttonous former lawyer who plays the angles. Swann knows his limits but Goldblatt pushes past them and before Swann realizes what he’s gotten into, the former cable installer turned skip tracer has taken on three disparate cases.
The first involves the search for the missing diary of one Starr Faithful, a woman of questionable virtue who died under mysterious circumstances in 1931. The diary purportedly contains details of Starr’s more notorious dalliances. Information that certain individuals want to keep hushed up even now. The second case involves a woman who seemingly vanishes into thin air and whose boyfriend Jack wants her back, no questions asked; and the third, a search for a treasure trove of long lost photos and negatives rumored to be worth a fortune.
“You’re good at finding things,” Goldblatt tells Swann who grows increasingly wary of the new business arrangement that has him ducking out of harm’s way on an icy Long Beach boardwalk, crisscrossing his beloved New York and hopping a plane for Texas.
Like a good detective, Swann looks past the obvious and follows the plot twists to their unexpected conclusions. As he clips through his paces, Swann takes the reader on an enjoyable ride sprinkled with plenty of sass and vinegar and illuminated by the bright lights and dark underside of the Big Apple. He’s a hero who grows more endearing with each book and whose capers ultimately beg the question: What’s next for Henry Swann?
Salzberg, a founding member of the New York Writers Workshop, is the author of Devil in the Hole, a haunting, fictionalized account of a true-crime story. His first Swann mystery, Swann’s Last Song was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.