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Friday, 3 May 2019

☀ Swann's Down: Henry Swann Mysteries [5] - Charles Salzberg

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Swann's Down, a Noir Detective Mystery by (, Down & Out Books, 227 pages).

This is the fifth book in the Henry Swann Mysteries series.

Don't miss our guest post by author Charles Salzberg about Swann's Down.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and the excerpt below, as well as full details of the series.

Author Charles Salzberg will be awarding a $20  Amazon gift card, and five print copies of Swann's Down to six randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).


|| Synopsis || Teaser: Excerpt || The Series || Author Guest Post || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

Synopsis

When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who’s swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can’t say no. Although he doesn’t actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner’s mysterious past.

His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortunetellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.

While working his partner’s case, he’s approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who’s scheduled to go on trial in a week for murder he claims he didn’t commit.

Swann’s search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant’s girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the bay from Mobile, Alabama. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?

Teaser: Excerpt

1

The Age of Aquarius


“We’re partners, right?”
       Nothing good can come from that question when it comes from the mouth of Goldblatt.
       “I mean, all for one and one for all, am I right?” he quickly added in an attempt, I was sure, to seal the deal.
       “I think you’re confusing us with the three musketeers. May I point out there are only two of us, and I’m afraid that’s not the only fallacy in your declaration. But you might as well finish what you’ve started.”
       We were having our weekly Friday lunchtime sit-down to discuss what Goldblatt likes to refer to as “business.” I have another name for it: waste of time.
       Our venue changes from week to week but the concept is always pretty much the same: a cheap diner-slash-coffee shop somewhere on the island of Manhattan. Today’s eatery of choice (Goldblatt’s choice, my destiny) is the Utopia Diner, on Amsterdam, near Seventy-second Street. And as for the business we’d just finished discussing, well, to be honest, there never is much actual business to discuss and today was no exception.
       At this particular moment, we were going through a bit of a dry spell, which always makes me a little nervous because no matter how much I banish it from my mind, the rent is due the first of every month and at least three times a day I seem to develop a hunger that must be quenched. Still, a good fifteen, twenty years away from Social Security, and with precious little dough in the bank—okay, let’s be honest, no dough in the bank—and no 401(k) to fall back on, I need to keep working. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, lately it’s been my “partner,” as he likes to refer to himself, as opposed to my preferred “albatross,” who’s brought in the bulk of our clients.
       We’d already finished eating—though technically, Goldblatt never actually finishes eating which means a meal can easily turn into an all-day affair if I don’t apply the brakes—and we were just waiting for the check to arrive. This is a crucial point of any meal with Goldblatt because it is the opening gambit in what has become our weekly routine of watching the check sit there in no-man’s land somewhere between us until I inevitably give in, pick it up, and pay. Otherwise, I risk one of two things: either we’d be there all afternoon or, worst-case scenario, Goldblatt will decide he’s still hungry and threaten to order something else. Neither of these options is the least bit appealing.
       “I’ll get right to the point,” he said.
       Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the waiter, like a white knight, approaching with our check in hand. If I acted quick enough I might be able to get out of there before being sucked into something I don’t want to have anything to do with.
       “That would be nice,” I said, reaching for my wallet. “What is your point?”
       “I need to hire you.”
       I was stopped in my tracks before I got my wallet halfway out of my back pocket.
       “Really? To do what?”
       “I want you to find someone for me. Well, to be more precise, it’s not really for me. It’s for my ex-wife.”
       Wait a minute! Goldblatt married? Goldblatt with a wife? Goldblatt a husband? This was a new one on me, something I’d never even considered.
       “You…you’ve been married?” I stammered.
       Truth is, I never pictured Goldblatt being in any relationship other than with, yes, as irritating as it might be, me. I mean the guy isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of Don Juan, although I suppose in theory there are women who might find him if not attractive in the conventional way, at least interesting in a specimen-under-glass way. Or maybe as a project. Women love a project. They love a challenge. They love the idea that they have the opportunity to remake a man in their image. Maybe that was it. But whatever it was, my world was shaken to the core. And what would shake it even more would be to find that he was a father, too. But one shock per meal is more than enough, so there was no chance I was going to pursue that line of questioning.
       “Unfortunately, the answer is yes. More than once, in fact.”
       “Holy cow,” I blurted out, channeling the Scooter. “You’re kidding me?”
       At this point the same bald, squat waiter who seemed to serve us in every diner we patronized, reached our table and dropped the check right in front of me.
       “This is not something a man usually kids about.”
       “How many times?”
       He held up three fingers.
       “Three times! You’ve been married three times?”
       “Yeah.”
       I gulped.
       “Are you married now?”
       He shook his head. “Nah. I’m kinda between wives. Giving it a rest, if you know what I mean. But chances are I’ll be back in the saddle again soon enough.”
       “Okay, so let me get this straight. You’ve been married three times and now you’re single but you would consider getting married again?”
       “Man is not meant to be alone, Swannie. You might consider the possibility that your life would be enriched if you found your soul mate.”
       You’re fortunate if you find one soul mate in life and I’d already had mine. She was yanked from my life as a result of a freak accident, a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t know if Goldblatt knew the circumstances of her bizarre accidental death, but I wouldn’t have been surprised because he seemed to know a lot of things he had no business knowing.
       “Some men are meant to be alone, Goldblatt. I’m one of them and after three failed marriages, maybe you should consider the possibility you are, too.”
       He smiled and puffed out his chest. “What can I say, Swann? I’m a friggin’ babe magnet.”
       I would have laughed, should have laughed, but I was still processing the scary fact that he’d been married three times. That meant there were three women in the world who not only were willing to marry him but did marry him. I wanted to know more. Much more. Everything, in fact. But this was not the time and certainly not the place to delve into Goldblatt’s mysterious, sordid past. Nevertheless, I promised myself I would revisit this topic in the not too distant future.
       Still in shock, I avoided our weekly “who’s paying for this meal” tango, grabbed the check and reached for my wallet…again.
       “So, wanna know the story?” he asked.
       “Which story would that be?”
       “The story of why I want to hire you?”
       “Desperately.”
       “It’s for Rachel. She was my second wife. The best of the lot, actually. Sweet kid. We had our problems, that’s for sure, and maybe I should’ve stuck with it. You know, like given it more of a chance.”
       “It’s a little late for regrets, isn’t it?” I said, but Goldblatt wasn’t listening. His head was cocked to one side and his eyes rolled up in their sockets. It was obvious his mind was off in the ether somewhere, strolling down Memory Lane, I assumed.
       “How long were you married?”
       “Let’s see.” He closed his eyes and started counting on his fingers. His eyes snapped open. “Technically, I guess it was a little more than six months.”
       “Six months? You call that a marriage?”
       “It was legal, if that’s what you mean.”
       “And exactly what do you mean by ‘technically’?”
       “I mean we were together for a few months before we actually got hitched, and then we were legally married for maybe three months before the annulment…”
       “You got an annulment?”
       “Not me. Her. I woulda stuck it out a while longer. You know, I’m really a traditional kind of guy. But she needed an annulment. Something to do with the church. It woulda looked bad on her record if she got a divorce. I guess Jesus don’t much like the idea of divorce. Mumbo jumbo, as far as I’m concerned. But I went along with the annulment thing. What’d I care? Remember, I’m a lawyer. I know all about legal fictions.”
       “Why?”
       “Why what?”
       “Why’d she dump you?”
       “I’m really not fond of the word ‘dump.’ I prefer, parting of the ways. Or, better yet, we had different priorities. It’s complicated and kind of personal.”
       “Of course, it’s personal. That’s why I want to know.”
       “Yeah, well, maybe some other time.”
       “Man, this is a little too much to digest all at once, so we might as well skip to the part where you need to hire me.”
       “Yeah, right. None of the rest is important. Anyway, Rachel, that’s her name. Did I already say that?”
       I nodded.
       “She’s a real sweet kid, but she’s always been kinda, shall we say, naïve…you know, trusting. Too trusting, if you ask me. And she’s also a bit woo-woo, you know, out there.” He waved his hands and rolled his eyes, aiming them up toward the ceiling that was blocking the way to heaven, which I presume was what he was shooting for.
       “What’s that supposed to mean?”
       “You know, like what do they call it?” He snapped his fingers. “New Agey. That’s it. She believes in all that bullshit like astrology, tarot cards, tea leaves, all that spiritual garbage. She wouldn’t marry me while Mercury was in retrograde. I don’t even know what the hell that means but hey, it wasn’t like I was in a hurry to tie the knot.”
       “I thought you were a traditionalist?”
       “That doesn’t mean I was stupid. You gotta get to really know a person before you take a step like that.”
       “You took it three times.”
       “No one’s perfect, Swann.”
       I’m sure we could have gone on like this all afternoon, but I had better things to do, which meant just about anything else.
       “Let’s get on with it,” I said, tossing my credit card on top of the check. It’s always a crapshoot as to whether or not I’ve reached my credit limit, but since I’d uncharacteristically paid it off a couple weeks earlier after a minor payday, I figured I was in the clear. Goldblatt had been making noises for several weeks about getting a “company” card, “for tax purposes,” he explained. But I didn’t see him making a move to apply for one and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sign on for a card where I’d be on the hook for any expenses he chalked up.
       “So,” he continued, “not long ago, she goes off on this trip to San Francisco. You know, one of those things where she’s gonna find herself. Anyway, she’s hanging out in that old hippie district…”
       “Haight-Ashbury.”
       “Yeah, that’s it. She meets this guy. Nice guy, she says. Turns out he’s into the same shit she is and he’s even from back here. He’s out there for the same reason she is: to find himself. I guess there are lots of lost people out there, right? Anyway, she likes him a lot and he likes her well enough so when they get back here to the city, they start to go out. After a couple dates she falls for him. Hard. According to her, he falls hard, too. One night they have this date to go dancing downtown only he doesn’t show. She gets worried, ’cause she says that’s not like him. She keeps calling, but he doesn’t answer. She leaves messages. He doesn’t call back. What can she do? She figures he skipped out on her. She’s heartbroken, of course, but what can she do? A week or so later she gets a call from some woman. Says she’s his sister. Kate something or other. Tells Rachel her brother died.”
       “Died?”
       “Yeah.”
       “Murdered?”
       “Nah. She says natural causes. Heart attack or something sudden like that. She tells Rachel he went just…” Goldblatt snapped his fingers, “like that. Poor kid. She can’t even go to the funeral because it’s already over. They cremated the body, so she doesn’t even have a grave she can visit.”
       “Sad story, but would you please get to the point where you tell me why you need to hire me.”
       “Keep your shirt on. I’m getting there. So, he croaks and she’s heartbroken, I mean really torn up. Bad. She’s an emotional chick anyway but I’ve never seen her that bad. She loses weight ’cause she’s not eating. She can’t get out of bed and when she does she barely makes it to the couch. She sleeps most of the day. You know the drill. She’s so depressed she goes to a shrink. He gives her a prescription for one of those anti-depressants. Doesn’t work. She don’t know what to do with herself so she winds up wandering the streets. Day, night, it don’t matter. She’s out there looking for something but she doesn’t know what it is.”
       “There’s an end to this story, right?”
       “Yeah. I’m getting there. Anyway, she figures the only way to snap out of this is to maybe reconnect with him in some way, so she calls his sister. She talks to her and it seems to help a little ’cause Rachel starts to feel connected to the dead guy. They call back and forth a couple, few times. You know, like they become telephone pals. One day, when she tells his sister she’s still feeling really down about the whole thing, the sister mentions this fortune teller named Madame Sofia. She tells Rachel how she went to her when their father died and how she really helped by giving her closure. Don’t you fucking hate that word? Like it’s some kind of real estate deal. Anyway, Rachel, who believes in this kind of crap, decides she’s gonna try it too.”
       “You mean going to this fortune teller?”
       “Yeah, that’s right. Like I told you, Rachel’s not only a little spacey but by this point she’s pretty desperate. I mean, when better living through chemistry doesn’t work, what else is there? She’s willing to try anything to get rid of the pain, right? Even something like this. So, she goes to this fortune teller and this chick tells Rachel she can make contact with the guy.”
       “The dead guy?”
       “Yeah. Right. The dead guy. Now you gotta understand this about Rachel. She believes we don’t really die when we leave this mortal coil. She believes in an afterlife. Like, we don’t really die we just move on to ‘another room.’”
       “Another room?”
       “Yeah. Like another dimension, maybe. You don’t really die, according to Rachel, you just move to another place. It can be a better place or it can be a worse place. But it’s a different place. So, this fortune teller supposedly finds the ‘room’ this guy has moved on to and she supposedly makes contact with him.”
       “Makes contact?”
       “Yeah.”
       “And Rachel believes this?”
       He nods. “She believes, all right. Now Rachel may be woo-woo, but she’s not stupid. She had to be convinced, but she was. Evidently, according to Rachel, this Madame Sofia knows stuff about the dude and about her and him that she couldn’t possibly know.”
       “Like what?”
       “You’ll have to ask Rachel. But evidently it was enough to convince her that the chick really has made contact. At the end of that first session she tells Rachel she can only continue if Rachel can come up with some dough.”
       “Big surprise.”
       “Yeah.”
       “How much?”
       “Like twenty-five grand.”
       “You’re kidding?”
       “I wish I was.”
       “For what?”
       Goldblatt, the man of a thousand faces, made one of them. “You’re gonna love this one. It’s for a fucking ‘time machine.’”
       I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. But Goldblatt, dead serious and not too happy about the situation, wasn’t laughing with me.
       “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
       “Like a heart attack. You and I know it was for that trip around the world and a Rolex watch and maybe a diamond pendant but Rachel, by this time she’s under some kind of spell. She’s bought everything this gypsy woman told her, hook, line, and sinker.”
       “Didn’t she question the money thing?”
       “Nope. She rationalizes. Tells herself, ‘everyone has to make a living.’ Me, I look at it as a killing, not a living.”
       “And Rachel was able to come up with the dough?”
       “She was. And a lot more. Because you know the drill. Once you’re on the line, they’re not about to let you off the hook.”
       “Where was she getting the money?”
       “Inheritance from her father. He was some kind of big-shot lawyer. He died before I met her. That’s probably why she married me. You know, what with me being a lawyer and all. Maybe she connected me with her dead father.”
       The idea that Goldblatt could remind anyone of their father struck me as odd at best, but women are a strange lot. As Freud said, “women, what do they want?” In this case, at least for a few months, I guess it was Goldblatt.
       “What was this so-called time machine supposed to do?”
       “It wasn’t an actual time machine. You know, one of those H.G. Wells thingies that’s supposed to send you back in time. It was some kind of otherworldly apparatus that was supposed to make a clear connection between them while he’s in this other ‘room.’ I’m sure you know what comes next.”
       “The time machine isn’t quite enough, right?”
       “Bingo. She asks Rachel for another twenty-five grand.”
       “For?”
       “Now that she’s made contact, she needs to build what she calls a ‘golden bridge’ across the dimensions, so Rachel can ‘visit’ the ‘room’ where this guy is parked, probably for eternity.”
       “Give me a break.”
       “Yeah, real Twilight Zone stuff. But Rachel bought it. She believed she could actually communicate with the dead guy.”
       “So, she came up with the dough?”
       “Yeah. But now when she sees nothing’s happening, she starts getting a little suspicious.”
       “About time.”
       “You’re telling me. So, she tells me the whole story and wants to know if I think maybe something’s fishy. I practically have a fucking heart attack…I mean, that’s a shitload of dough.”
       “And here I would’ve bet it was food that was gonna get you.”
       “Very funny. Anyway, she starts crying, because in her heart she knew all this was just a load of bullshit. But the poor kid was lonely and she wasn’t thinking straight. She feels worse now that she was taken for such a sucker so she makes me promise to get her money back.”
       “Which is where I come in.”
       “Right. I could probably do it myself but if I found this quack I’d probably kill her.”
       “What do you mean, ‘find her’?”
       “You don’t think after taking Rachel for all that dough she’s gonna stick around, do you? Rachel goes back to the storefront to confront her to try to get her money back and abracadabra,” he snapped his fingers, “she’s gone.”
       “Storefront?”
       “Yeah. She worked out of one over on First Avenue, ...

Swann's Down
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The Series: Henry Swann Mysteries

|| [1] || [2] || [3] || [4] ||

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.
     

Swann's Last Song [1]


Skip tracer Henry Swann cares little about anything but money, so when a beautiful Upper East Side woman shows up in his office and hires him to find her missing husband, he smiles and takes the cash.
     But when this seemingly simple missing-person case turns into homicide, Swann finds himself trapped in a complex web of connections and multiple identities that takes him out of New York City and across two continents.
     [Published 1 September 2008, 290 pages]

Swann Dives In [2]


Millionaire lawyer Carlton Phillips has lost track of his daughter Marcy. Her last known whereabouts were at her school, Syracuse University. While trying to track down Marcy and/or her geeky boyfriend Sean Loomis on a quick trip upstate, Swann follows the clues to a sorority house, a pizza joint, and the office of a literature professor who is clearly hiding something.
      Armed with more questions than leads Swann flies up to Boston where he narrowly avoids the arms of a seductive and secretive librarian. Finally back in New York City, Swann tries to sort out the details of the case.
      Is Marcy Phillips a victim? What is the nature of her relationship to the sexy and cagey Elizabeth Lawson? Is Carlton Phillips somehow involved in this story? How are all of these people connected to the rare book world, and who is really trying to get away with something?
     [Published 19 October 2012, 308 pages]

Swann's Lake of Despair [3]


      When rare photos‚ a scandalous diary‚ and a beautiful woman all go missing at once‚ the stage is set for three challenging cases for Henry Swann.
     It begins with an offer to partner up with his slovenly‚ unreliable frenemy‚ Goldblatt. The disbarred lawyer-turned-"facilitator" would provide the leads and muscle‚ while Swann would do all the fancy footwork.
     A lost diary by a free-loving Jazz Age flapper is worth enough to someone that Swann takes a beat down on an abandoned boardwalk. Pilfered photos of Marilyn Monroe propel him deep into the past of an alcoholic shutterbug‚ his wife; and he's hired to search for a lonely writer's runaway girlfriend.
     The cases converge and collide in a finale that lifts the curtain on crucial‚ deadly facts of life for everyone — including Swann himself.

[Published 24 Jan 2017, 308 pages]

Swann's Way Out [4]


**For a limited time only! Purchase SWANN’S WAY OUT for just 2.99 and get a link to download the first book in this series, SWANN’S LAST SONG, for FREE!**

A friendly poker game leads Henry Swann out to Hollywood where he tries to find the man, Rusty Jacobs, responsible for embezzling $1,000,000 from his client, and then bring back the dough. Swann finds Jacobs, but the mercurial wannabe film producer is involved in a “surefire” movie project aimed at the growing Christian market. And the money? Well, it seems to have vanished into thin air.

At the same time, thanks to his irrepressible partner, Goldblatt, Swann finds himself knee-deep in the New York City art world, as he tries to get justice for another client who’s possibly been defrauded on the purchase of a valuable painting that may or may not be a fake.

As if this isn’t enough to keep him busy, in the midst of these two troubling cases, Swann finds that the teenage son whom he hasn’t seen in a dozen years has run away from his grandparent’s Minnesota home and, chasing after a girl, has possibly become involved with a cult. And so, a guilt-ridden Swann has to take time out from his paying cases to find his son.

[Published 4 February 2017, 278 pages]

About the Author

Charles Salzberg is a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer.

He is the author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann's Last Song, and the sequels, Swann Dives In, Swann's Lake of Despair and Swann's Way Out. His novel, Devil in the Hole, was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. His latest novel is Second Story Man. He is co-author of Triple Shot, with Ross Klavan and Tim O'Mara (three crime novellas).

He teaches writing in New York City and is on the board of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

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