If you like your protagonists flawed with baggage, then Frank Marr is your man! He is the very epitome of an anti-hero. An ex-cop turned private investigator in his mid-forties, Frank is also a high-functioning cocaine addict.
Frank is single. He does some investigative work for Leslie Costello, a defense attorney who was also once a cop. They went through the police academy together and have remained close. In fact, some nights after a few drinks, they are ‘very‘ close.
Costello does not know about his addiction, no one does. As he becomes more and more dependent on the cocaine to give him courage and clarity, Frank finds himself having to tell some convincing lies. He is getting so good at it that he half believes them himself.
The first girl.
While casing out a house in the Adams-Morgan area of D.C., where known drug dealers live, Frank aims to break in while they are gone to replenish his stash of cocaine. His plan is foiled somewhat by the teenage girl he finds handcuffed to a ring in the floor of the bathroom. She had been injected with heroin and gang-raped by the crew. Frank is a druggie, but not without a soft heart. He rescues the girl and takes her to Costello, who in turn reunites her with her parents.
Afterwards he returns to the house where he meets up with one of the crew. It is then that Frank’s life becomes even more complicated.
Back when Frank was a cop, he bought a row house on 12th St. NW. Always handy, with good D.I.Y. skills, Frank gutted the building and remodeled. Now it is worth much more and the area has become gentrified. While remodeling, Frank built a false wall in the laundry room. It is here that he keeps his stash and anything else he wouldn’t want anyone else to find.
The second girl.
The parents of the first girl are overjoyed to have their daughter returned to them. When word gets out, another set of parents turn up and request Frank’s help in finding their daughter, who is also missing. She attended the same school as the first girl and they speculate she might have met the same fate… Although Frank does NOT usually get involved with missing persons cases, his soft heart coupled with the ‘clarity and courage’ derived from his cocaine seduce him into taking the case – against his better judgment.
Because he is no longer a cop he has an advantage over the police as he doesn’t have to abide by all the rules and regulations that they do…, though he has his own, rather warped, standards. He is, by his own admission, weak, broken, and lonely. As Frank becomes immersed in his search for the second girl, his own welfare and his dirty secrets are in jeopardy.
“The second girl” is the first novel in a proposed series featuring the anti-hero Frank Marr. The fact that the author was a policeman himself assures that the police scenes and procedure are of the utmost accuracy. The suspense coupled with the beguiling rogue himself, ensure that the series will be a resounding success.
The Washington, D.C. setting lends itself to a noir crime thriller and the author’s intimate knowledge of the city enhances the reader’s enjoyment of the novel. The reader gets to see a seamier, more gritty D.C. than we see on television. It had the feel of a police procedural coupled with the action and tough guy scenes of an action novel. This makes it appealing to both genders, but I think it would especially appeal to a male audience.
The next book in the Frank Marr series, “Crime Song“ is due for release in the summer of 2017 by Mulholland Books. “Crime Song” has just been added to my TBR! I have to find out if Frank gets his act together someday…
I’m grateful to Mulholland Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel.
David Swinson is a retired police detective, having served sixteen years with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Before joining the D.C. police, Swinson was a record store owner in Seal Beach, California, a concert promoter in Long Beach, California, and a music video producer and independent filmmaker in Los Angeles, California. Swinson currently lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, bull mastiff, and bearded dragon.