cover image Crime Song

Crime Song

David Swinson. Mulholland, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-26421-1

Swinson’s second Frank Marr novel (after 2016’s The Second Girl) starts strong but loses focus. The former police detective turned PI is tailing a cousin, George Washington University student Jeffery Baldwin, because Jeffery is skipping classes and his mother is worried. Frank learns that Jeffery is dealing drugs and follows him to a meeting with his supplier at a D.C. nightclub. Rather than confront Jeffery, Frank—an addict whose stash is getting low—decides to rob him, but when he breaks into Jeffery’s apartment, he can’t find the goods. Back at Frank’s house, the cops are waiting. His electronics, vinyl collection, and handgun are missing, and Jeffery is dead in the kitchen. The police suspect that Frank murdered Jeffery and staged the burglary to cover it up, forcing him to launch his own investigation. A dearth of action, a surplus of surveillance, and unconvincing stakes make for a saggy middle, and though the final stretch is adrenaline-fueled, the ending is too pat. Agent: Jane Gelfman, Gelfman Schneider/ICM. (May)