Swann Dives In by Charles Salzberg

I have places in my home where I like to read. Another place to watch television. My wife and I have our favorite pub probably because they know our beer orders. Contentment is important. Is this why the mystery genre is filled with so many book series? These sets of books give us the satisfaction of the known, they give us the comfort of characters and the familiarity of setting.

After reading Charles Salzberg’s first novel about Henry Swann, Swann’s Last Song, I was ready to read the second in the series, Swann Dives In (Down & Out Books). The novel starts a few months after Swann solved the case in Swann’s Last Song, but we find that Swann is no longer a poor man’s PI, a skip chaser. He’s now installing cable in New York City, “a foot-soldier in the war against double and triple image ghosts and out of season, non-meteorological snow-storms.” But huffing it up five flights of stairs in Hells Kitchen gets tiring real fast.

A few pages into Swann Dives In, Salzberg does what the expect: an old friend/client reaches out to Swann to do him one last solid — take a case. Swann protests saying he’s out of the game and quite content being in the “entertainment business”. But Swann acquiesces and does one last skip trace for his friend “for old time’s sake. And for the money, naturally.”

Swann Dives In was exactly what I expected from the Swann series, a good PI novel with a believable mystery. Salzberg weaves a fast-paced plot based on the simple premise of Swann searching for a man’s daughter who doesn’t want to be found. When I finished Swann Dives In, I was left with one question: will Swann continue being a skip tracer in book three, Swann’s Lake of Despair? I don’t know, but I aim to find out.

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