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Henry Swann Mystery Books In Order

Publication Order of Henry Swann Mystery Books

Swann's Last Song (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Swann Dives In (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Swann's Lake of Despair (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Swann's Way Out (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Swann's Down (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

“Henry Swann Mystery” series is a set of novels by journalist, acclaimed writing instructor and author Charles Salzberg. His debut novel was “Swann’s Last Song” that was the first of the series. The debut novel made the shortlist for Best First PI Novel for the Shamus Award. Salzberg has also written several single standing novels that include “Devil in the Hole” and “Second Story Man” among several nonfiction works.

The New York City born author went to the Barnard School for Boys, before attending Syracuse University where he graduated in 1967 with a degree in English. He was not yet done as he immediately proceeded to Boston University School of Law where he studied for two years between 1967 and 1968. For several years now, he has been a Visiting Professor at Syracuse University’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communications. He has also been a lecturer and tutor at several colleges, seminars and workshops including the Sarah Lawrence College, the Writer’s Voice, Hunter College, and the New York Writers Workshop. Among the people he has taught include Stephanie Klein, Linda Yellin, Sally Koslow, Lauren Weisberger, Susie Essman, and Joy Behar. He is also the cohost of Trumpet Fiction alongside Jonathan Kravetz and works on Ducts.org as a consulting editor. Charles Salzberg’s works have been featured in the likes of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Esquire, The New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, GQ, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook and Elle.

The lead character of the “Henry Swann Mystery” series is a repo man who loves to think of himself as a private investigator and skip chaser. Henry Swann is an interesting character as he is a philosophical man that has vowed never to live with regrets about his past. Well read, self-deprecating and smart, he often quotes literature though he often plays dumb to fool people into underestimating him. As a student of human nature, he knows that almost everyone is hiding something and so he always comes armed with the expectation of being lied to, combined with a cynical sense of humor and hard work. He is an old school hero who prefers to fight with words and avoids violence if he can, which makes him a refreshing hero. His favorite activity is putting pieces together and solving puzzles and this often results in him chasing all manner of mysteries, adventure, and exploration. While he often gets into hot water that makes one sympathize with his situation, you end up hoping to see more of his escapades. Nonetheless, when it comes down to his motivation, he is all about finding missing pieces of himself from the separation-related feats and complex attachments. Swann lost his wife to a freak accident and has never been the same man since, As such, he is often looking for objects and missing people that would make his life whole again. This is what keeps the man going even when things get really tough.

“Swann’s Last Song” the debut novel of the Henry Swann series is a pulp detective novel featuring a detective that is a mish-mash of the old school and modern detective. It opens to a derelict office in a bad neighborhood in town, where private investigator Henry Swann operates his business. He is looking through some papers when a high heeled woman struts in and takes his breath away. Her husband is missing and she wants Henry to help track him down since he is the best skip tracer and repo man in town. He thinks it would be a simple case, only to discover that Harry Janus had been involved with something big or sinister enough that someone believed he had to die so that it would not get out. But tracking down the man that had killed him proves difficult as he soon finds himself in a world of deceit, multiple identities, antiquities and drugs that sees him travel to Mexico. He has to navigate the dangerous environment where slithering, crawling, and walking creatures threaten his life at every turn. The detective barely gets away and goes to Berlin only to find the city even more dangerous. It is a layered story that seems more like an onion as each revelation reveals even more mystery and danger.

“Swann Dives In” the second novel of the series opens to the lead character Henry Swann now having taken a job as a cable guy. He had long left his skip tracing business because of a tough case that had gotten him thinking about the existential issues of life. But he is getting tired of walking up apartment stairs and dealing with cranky customers. Swann used to work with a bail bondsman known as Jake Stein who now calls him with what he believes are simple cases that would earn him a little cash. He quickly completes the first and Jake hands him the second. He has to find the daughter of a rich lawyer who is offering $10,000 if he is successful. Things get complicated fast and he is soon knee-deep in the world of rare manuscripts and books. Marcy the lawyer’s daughter is with Sean her boyfriend, an expert at tracking down first editions with original autographs. There is a lot of money in the business and the couple is always on the move and this sees Swann follow them from New York, across the ocean to London and back to the US. He has to deal with eccentric book dealers, university professors, and thugs that have an uncanny ability to track him down. Almost everyone he meets is hiding something and he cannot believe anyone. He finally manages to track down his mark but then things become very complicated.

The third novel of the Henry Swann series “Swann’s Lake of Despair” opens to a scandalous diary, rare photos, and a beautiful woman going missing all at the same time. This sets the stage for Henry Swann to come in and showcase his exceptional skills. He gets an offer to partner with Goldblatt, an unreliable and slovenly frenemy of his. The disbarred lawyer is now working as a facilitator and wants to provide the muscle and leads while Swann does the legwork. It seems that the diary of a Jazz Age flapper is valuable enough since his investigation leads him onto a remote boardwalk where he gets a beat down. Stolen photographs of Marilyn Monroe sees him go back in time to investigate his wife who is an alcoholic. He also gets a job to track down a lonely writer’s girlfriend that he suspects has run away. The cases collide and converge to ultimately reveal the deadly and crucial facts of life for everyone involved.

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