Mulholland Books/Little Brown and Company, $26.00, 354 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-26421-1
Last winter, in MBR No. 275: The Second Girl, we introduced our audience to an ex-Washington D.C. cop turned crime-fiction writer named David Swinson, who’s created one of the best anti-heros to come down the pike in, I dunno, like forever. He’s a retired D.C. cop turned private investigator named Frank “Frankie” Marr. The fictional character is a man with a habit, a former Narc, now a narcaholic, always jonesing for a snort or a swig, or a 1 mg Klonopin to even things out. He’s a man who’s living a lie. He wants to stay on the side of the angels, but he’s made a deal with the devil, and Frankie’s in league with him. Now, we’re happy to report that Frankie’s back, in a second installment.
Crime Song, finds Frankie getting perilously low on cocaine, just as his addiction to it is growing larger. He’ll have to score soon, or run out. That’s unthinkable. He needs to identify a dealer . . . and rob him. But before he can do it, his Aunt Linda calls with a request for him to check up on his cousin Jeffrey, who’s been cutting classes at George Washington University, and now has to attend summer school. Although reluctant to mix family and business, Frankie agrees, because his aunt was his surrogate mother after his own mother died and Jeffrey is like a little brother. Although worried about replacing his rapidly diminishing stash of cocaine, Frankie focuses his attention on the nephew, tracking him to a popular nightclub run by a moonlighting cop named Willie Jasper . . . where Frankie watches his cousin Jeffrey engage in some low-level drug trafficking. Then Frankie’s home is burglarized. All of his electronics are stolen, including his collection of vinyl albums that belonged to his deceased mother, but worse than that a .38 caliber pistol is missing from his bedroom and used to murder Jeffrey. His dead body left in a pool of blood on the floor of Frankie’s ransacked house. It then becomes a race against time as Frankie tries to prove his innocence, find his cousin’s killer, defend his life against some crooked cops who’re determined to kill him, redeem himself with his Aunt Linda, girlfriend Leslie and cop buddies . . . while at the same time concealing his addictions and duplicitous double lifestyle. And, oh yeah, somehow, somewhere, some way . . . replacing all that illegal white powdery stuff he’s been sticking up his nose like a madman. Frank Marr is a man without a plan, on a collision course with disaster, unless he can somehow slip out of the ever-tightening figurative noose he’s got around his neck. If you like ‘em hard-boiled and then some, Frankie’s your guy for awesome summer reading!