cover image Sweet Thing

Sweet Thing

David Swinson. Mulholland, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-52861-0

Set in the final days of 1999, this terrific standalone from Swinson (City on the Edge) finds Washington, D.C., homicide detectives Alexander Blum and Kelly Ryan called to investigate the murder of a low-level heroin dealer named Chris Doyle. While searching the crime scene, Blum finds a Polaroid of Doyle with Arthur Holland, a confidential informant from the detective’s previous stint in narcotics. He pockets the photo and, while trying to find Arthur, discovers his old C.I. has been missing for days after a conversation with his fragile, heroin-addicted girlfriend Celeste, of whom Blum feels immediately protective. When Blum and Ryan team up with narcotics detective Frank Marr (from an earlier Swinson series), they turn up evidence that points straight to Celeste, and before long, Blum crosses a line to protect her, spiraling downward until he’s in the middle of a desperate plot involving a drug kingpin, a corrupt cop, and a strip joint. Drawing on his experience as a D.C. cop and writing in clipped, terse prose, Swinson transforms the turn of the millennium into a distant noir-tinged era that feels both tougher and simpler than the present. This is sure to please fans of George Pelecanos and Richard Price. Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents. (Nov.)