Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: "The Second Girl" by David Swinson

Frank Marr is a retired Washington, D.C. police detective, revered for his investigative skills. He was good at his job, well-liked by his peers, but he decided that the job got to be a little too much to live with, so he retired early and does some work for a former colleague on the police force who is now a defense attorney.

Or so the story goes. Because only a few higher-ups in the department, know the truth behind his retirement. And only Frank knows his real secret: he is a (mostly) highly functioning drug addict. He does everything he can to feed his addiction, even if it means making some questionable decisions which could eventually put his life—and his freedom—at risk.

It is in the midst of one of these questionable decisions that he finds a teenage girl being held captive in a house owned by a D.C. drug gang. He knows he needs to save her from what will certainly be her fate, but he wonders how he can do that while also finding the drugs he so desperately needs. His conscience wins out (for the most part), so he rescues the girl, and is lauded for his heroics, although he'd prefer to remain out of the spotlight so he can continue avoiding suspicion.

When a second family from the same neighborhood asks if Frank can help them find their daughter after the police are unable to provide assistance, he's tremendously reluctant. He had vowed never to work a missing persons case, especially where a teenage girl is concerned. But his need to uncover the truth, and his ability to be one step ahead of the police because of his ability to bend the rules where necessary wins out, and it's not long before Frank starts uncovering an operation that could spell danger for more teenage girls—and could lead to the end of Frank's secret life.

Having lived in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly 30 years, I always love books that take place here, especially when they're not political in nature. Frank Marr is a terrific, complex character, one you can't help but root for even as he does stupid, risky things over and over again. David Swinson isn't afraid to expose Frank's vulnerability, showing the irony of his strong sense of right and wrong even as he does everything wrong in his own life. I also liked Frank's relationship with his boss-of-sorts/former colleague, Leslie, and his former buddies from the police force.

I enjoyed Swinson's style and the way he let action scenes unfold. The plot of The Second Girl may not be surprising, but the appeal of Frank's character definitely raises the quality of this book up a few notches. I look forward to seeing what's next in Swinson's career!

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