cover image The Second Girl

The Second Girl

David Swinson. LB/Mulholland, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-26417-4

PI Frank Marr, the narrator of this highly original noir from Swinson (A Detailed Man), has a big problem: he’s a cocaine addict. When the former Washington, D.C., police detective breaks into a house in search of a stash he hopes to score, he finds Amanda Meyer, who can’t be more than 15, chained to the floor in the bathroom. Instead of calling 911 or taking Amanda to the hospital, per standard police procedure, he delivers the girl to his sometime employer and lover, attorney Leslie Costello, who ensures that the teenager is reunited with her parents. Frank becomes a hero, and Leslie refers him to another set of parents seeking help in locating their missing daughter, 16-year-old Miriam Gregory. As he searches for Miriam, Frank must spin an ever-murkier web of lies to conceal his activities from his friends and the authorities. Frank constantly makes bad choices, and Swinson keeps the outcome in doubt to the end. He also does a fine job portraying the varied neighborhoods of contemporary Washington. Agent: Jane Gelfman, Gelfman Schneider/ICM. (June)