Monday, September 12, 2016

The Second Girl - David Swinson

Book Details

Book Title: The Second Girl

Author: David Swinson

: Mulholland Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 354

Format: Paperback

Genre: Crime/Thriller

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 9781473618169

Audience: Readers who enjoy fast paced, drug fuelled thrillers with a little bit of heart.

Summed up in one word: Paradoxical 

Author Bio: David Swinson is a retired police detective who served 16 years with the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department. The Second Girl is Swinson's second novel, his first being A Detailed Man.

First Impression: If you are looking for a non-nonsense thriller that features an unpredictable, drug addicted, ex cop turned private investigator then this is the book for you. A fast paced plot, questionable moral choices, guns, drugs and a P.I with some heart is what you get in The Second Girl and I enjoyed my time within its pages. It doesn't break any new ground, I have read other books with addicted, trouble and heartfelt cops, but it is well written, entertaining, insightful and at times incredibly brutal and intense. 

Summary of the Story:
Frank Marr may be a decorated former cop and the best private investigator Washington DC has ever known, but the city doesn't know his dirty secret.

A high-functioning drug addict, Frank has devoted his considerable skills to hiding his
habit from others. But after accidentally discovering a kidnapped teenage girl in the home of a drug gang, Frank becomes a hero and is thrust into the spotlight.

Reluctantly, he agrees to investigate the disappearance of another girl - possibly connected to the first - all the time knowing that the heightened scrutiny may bring his own secrets to light...

The Second Girl is a raw, real and incredibly gripping thriller from a former DC Major Crimes detective. You won't regret meeting Frank Marr...but his enemies will.

(Synopsis from The Second Girl by David Swinson) 


Plot: Frank Marr is an ex cop turned private investigator with a serious drug addiction and a mild grapefruit/oyster obsession. Frankie is a top of the range P.I but with hard drugs always in the back of his mind, he gets side tracked often. One particular attempt to score drugs leads him to a house run by Latino drug dealers. Upon searching the house for drugs he can take home with him, Frankie also finds a 16 year old girl chained up in the bathroom... his saviour instinct kicks in, he scoops her up and takes her to safety.

The family are ecstatic to have their daughter back. Frankie finds the money and drugs he was looking for and manages to stay out of the way of the local police. Everyone wins. Until a friend calls in a favour and asks Frankie to assist another family in finding their missing girl, fuelled by the hope that if the other daughter is still alive, they believe their daughter must be too. Frankie agrees to take the job but does not give them any hope. Not bound by the same rules and regulations that the police have to battle every day, Frankie soon uncovers the How/Why these girls have started to go missing, along with the people involved. All he has to figure out is the Where....and he will find out. 

Fast paced, brutal, gritty plot with some heart and a lot of hell. 

Writing Style: Choosing the first person perspective and having the reader deep inside Frankie's head for the duration of this story works really well. The reader goes through all the feelings of addiction, anger, happiness and stress with Frankie and time flies when your in that man's head. Brief chapters was also a great idea and intentionally speeds up the readers pacing and makes it feel more intense and speedy. The tone of The Second Girl switches rapidly and frequently, I think trying to mirror the mood swings that Frankie suffers from constant drug use. We get tension, relief, fear, anxiety, happiness and anger, each in rapid succession over the entire course of this novel. I enjoyed it, keep me on my toes. (While I was sat down reading...). I also enjoyed the fact that DS choose not to fuel the cliche that the good guy has to run in guns blazing all the time, but can be smart and methodical too.

Setting: Being from Norwich, England and not from anywhere in America or Washington DC itself, I did not really appreciate the setting as much as I should. That said, Swinson put a lot of effort into including his setting into the story/action and making it feel real. There are places, street names and reactions to the landscape that a citizen from DC would appreciate, that to me is a great additional touch.

Characters: There is only one main character in this book. Frankie Marr. Leslie Costello and Scott Davidson are secondary characters with Costello being a kind off love interest and Davidson being a sort of adversary. Frankie is the showcase here and he is a decent one. He is smart, effective, brutal, frenzied at times and a ruthless interrogator. He definitely has a conscious though, so much so that he starts making promises to people that he is not even sure he can fulfil.  

Themes: The biggest idea/theme this book has to offer in my opinion is that you should never truly give up if you want answers, there is always another way of looking at a situation. TSG also lays it on thick that drug abuse is 100% bad and only complicates lives or even destroys them, a view I happen to completely agree on. Other themes include protecting the weak. Persistence and truth. It also sends the message that if you cannot get things done the official way, bending some rules may do the trick.

Likes: Pacing. Decent Lead Character. Solid Plot. Realism. Humour. Entertaining.

Dislikes: Some American cop cliches. Does not break any new ground.

Thoughts on the cover art: Great colour. I like the black sketchy look to the detail. 8/10

Overall: The Second Girl is a great addition to the genre, I feel that David Swinson can go a lot further with his writing and I am seriously looking forward to his next book. If you want to be entertained, faced with questionable moral decisions and live inside the head of a high functioning drug addict for a few hours then you will enjoy this book! Thank you David Swinson, Mulholland Books and Bookbridgr for the opportunity to read this book. 

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