Friday, 24 October 2014

Blog Tour: Review + Author Q & A: Swann's Lake of Despair by Charles Salzberg #CharlesSalzberg


Hardcover, $29.95
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2936-0
284 pages
Five Star Gale/Cengage
Oct. 22, 2014


When rare photos, a scandalous diary and a beautiful woman all go missing at once, the stage is set for Henry Swann’s most challenging act of detection. In “Swann’s Lake of Despair,” the wise and world-weary skip tracer tries to avoid a dance with death.


It starts with an offer to become partners from his slovenly and unreliable frenemy, Goldblatt. In a new agency, the disbarred lawyer-turned-“facilitator” would provide the leads and muscle, while Swann would do all the fancy footwork.


But while Swann’s bank account gives him no choice but leap in, their first cases make him fear he’s taking the fall. A lost diary by a free-loving ‘20s 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 girlfriend. In the midst of this Swann must fly from New York to Florida to Texas to help a lovelorn writer locked in a tormented pas de deux with his elusive lover.


The cases all converge and collide in a finale that lifts the curtain on crucial, deadly facts of life for everyone – including Swann himself.


Funny and philosophical, savvy and suspenseful, Swann’s Lake of Despair raises the bar on a unique mystery series, one starring a sleuth who chases those lost in order to find himself.
There was so much to love about this book. From its witty, charismatic protagonist to the mystery and suspense that drove this novel from start to finish.
This is the first time I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Swann, and I must say I was immediately drawn to him. He had a strong personality, was charming, and a smartass when he needed to be. I enjoyed his interactions with the many different characters who popped up during his investigations, but his time with Goldblatt really put a smile on my face. He had a way of totally ridiculing his friend and partner but in a way that was quite endearing.
This was a great mystery read with exciting twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. Never once predictable, Salzberg held me captive with his crisp writing and plotting. I enjoyed every minute spent playing detective alongside Henry Swann.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         
Marissa Curnutte



 “Smart, satisfying, even profound, this is exactly what every mystery reader is looking for: A terrific story, full of wit and originality, and a master class in voice. Charles Salzberg is a true talent, and his Henry Swann is a classic--complex, hilarious, and completely charming.”
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Higgins Clark award winner: THE OTHER WOMAN, Agatha winner: THE WRONG GIRL



Award-winning novelist Charles Salzberg releases ‘Swann’s Lake of Despair’ Oct. 22


NEW YORK CITY – Where mystery lurks, detective Henry Swann is not far behind.


The offbeat private investigator is back in “Swann’s Lake of Despair,” award-winning author Charles Salzberg’s newest installment in his successful mystery series. This time, Swann is charged with solving three challenging cases when rare photos of bombshell Marilyn Monroe, a scandalous diary and a beautiful woman all disappear. Salzberg’s latest book comes out Oct. 22, 2014.


The story takes off with an offer for Swann to team up with his careless, unreliable frenemy Goldblatt. The disbarred lawyer-turned-“facilitator” would provide the leads and muscle, while Swann would do all the fancy footwork. A missing diary penned by a free-loving jazz flapper is worth enough to someone that Swann takes a beat down on an abandoned boardwalk. Pilfered photos propel him deep into the past of an alcoholic photographer, 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.


With “Swann’s Lake of Despair,” Salzberg continues a tradition of weaving a web of intrigue and cerebral crimes that fans have come to crave.


“Swann’s got the smarts and hard-boiled cynicism of Sam Spade, but he’s also got a wicked sense of humor that keeps things cool even when the action gets hot,” says Brian Kilmeade, author and co-host of “Fox & Friends.”


Salzberg is a New York-based novelist, journalist and acclaimed writing instructor. He is the author of “Devil in the Hole,” chosen as one of the Best True Crime Novels of the Year by Suspense Magazine, and the Henry Swann detective series featuring “Swann’s Last Song,” which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel; “Swann Dives In;” and the upcoming “Swann’s Lake of Despair.”

 Check out all the stops in the tour on the JKSCommunications Virtual Tour Page 

Praise for Charles Salzberg’s Writing


“Devil in the Hole”

“Salzberg masterfully weaves together dozens of voices, including the killer’s, in an effort to find out why a man would murder his entire family and then disappear. ‘Devil in the Hole’ is a haunting meditation on the thin, wavering line between sense and senselessness.”

– Kaylie Jones, author of “Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir” and “Speak Now”


“The Devil isn’t in the details, but in a tiny Connecticut town. Charles Salzberg’s ‘Devil in the Hole’ is a fine piece of crime writing and a hell of a fun read.”

Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award-winning author of “Gun Church”



“Swann Dives In”

“I always love it when I come across a new private detective to admire and worship, someone who is brave where I'm weak, someone who gets his hands dirty while I keep mine clean. Henry Swann is such a detective and he tells a great story. For fans of hard-boiled mysteries or just plain old good fiction, I'm sure you'll love ‘Swann Dives In.’”

– Jonathan Ames, author of “Wake Up, Sir!” and creator of “Bored to Death”


“If you like your P.I.s sexy, well-read and wise-cracking, Henry Swann is your man. Swann dives into a case with a prickly millionaire, a missing heiress and some rare manuscripts in this literate and literary novel.”

– Rosemary Harris, Anthony & Agatha-nominated author of “Pushing Up Daisies”


“Henry Swann is the great tradition of American mystery heroes: world-weary, philosophical, tough, and competent. This novel is totally entertaining.”

– Laurence Klavan, Edgar Award-winning author of “The Cutting Room” and “The Shooting Script”


“‘Swann Dives In” takes you in all kinds of unexpected directions, not only giving the reader a fresh view of the crime novel but a fresh view of the nature of crime itself.”

– Lauren Weisberger, author of “The Devil Wears Prada”



“Swann’s Last Song”

“‘Swann’s Last Song’ is wonderful and original and has the feel of Hitchcock. Henry Swann is a delightfully appealing guy, and at times, laugh-out loud funny. The story is action packed while being remarkably charming. I can’t wait to read what case Swann is on next. I couldn't put it down the way I can't put down the ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Society.’”

– Patty Dann, author of “Mermaids” and “The Goldfish Went On Vacation”


“Swann's got the smarts and hard-boiled cynicism of Sam Spade, but he's also got a wicked sense of humor that keeps things cool even when the action gets hot.”

– Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox & Friends” (Fox TV), author of “The Games Do Count” and “How They Played the Game”


“Salzberg's a hell of a writer. He delivers thrills, insight and plenty of laughs. Swann is a very cool take on the classic PI.”

– Andrew Klavan, author of “True Crime,” “Dynamite Road,”“Damnation Street” and “Don’t Say a Word”


“You can’t help but be intrigued by a skip tracer who quotes poetry. ‘Swann’s Last Song’ sucks you in from page one, offering up taut prose, crisp dialogue and wry observations on the grittier layers of city life. Bravo to Charles Salzberg, who’s crafted a plot that moves as fast as a stolen car.”

– Sally Koslow, author of “Little Pink Slips”


“A veritable travelogue of suspense, ‘Swann's Last Song’ grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. Salzberg's anti-hero Henry Swann is a soulful, investigator and one of the most paradoxically endearing characters I've come across. I hope this isn't Swann's last song.”

– Joy Behar, co-host of “The View” and author of “Joy Shtick”


“In ‘Swann’s Last Song,’ Salzberg has devilishly toyed with the usual conventions of the detective novel and produced a mind-bending, literary joyride across two continents to find not only the identity of a murderer but of the victim.”

– Robert Hicks, author of “The Widow of the South”


“Funny, edgy, and surprisingly tender, ‘Swann's Last Song’ takes us on a voyage through a world that many of us are affected by, but few know as well as Charles Salzberg and his fast-talking narrator, skip tracer Henry Swann. We can all understand what it means to have something – or somebody – disappear from our lives, but it takes a colorful narrator like Swann to show us what it means to reclaim them.”

– Roy Hoffman, author of “Chicken Dreaming Corn”


Charles Salzberg is a New York-based novelist, journalist and acclaimed writing instructor.


His latest novel, “Swann’s Lake of Despair,” is the newest installment in the Henry Swann detective series, which also includes the Shamus Award-nominated book “Swann’s Last Song” and “Swann Dives in.” His novel, “Devil in the Hole,” is a work of literary crime fiction based on the notorious John List murders.


A celebrated and popular creative writing teacher, he has been a visiting professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, the Writer’s Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a founding member. He was chosen as one of New York’s Great Teachers by New York Magazine. He is a consulting editor at the webzine and co-host, with Jonathan Kravetz, of the reading series, Trumpet Fiction, at KGB in New York City.


Salzberg was the International Guest of Honor at the Crime and Justice Festival in Melbourne, Australia, in November 2013.  He has participated in New York Public Library/Mystery Writer of America Writer panels, a panel at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany, and has appeared twice at Men of Mystery, in Irvine, Calif.


Salzberg has written several celebrity profiles as well as roughly 100 magazine articles on an array of subjects ranging from sports to finance to health to entertainment to fashion. His freelance work has appeared in Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, Elle, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, The New York Times Book Review and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.


He is also the author of “From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, An Oral History of the NBA;” “On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place: Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century;” and co-author of “My Zany Life and Times, by Soupy Sales,” “Catch Them Being Good” and “The Mad Fisherman.”

Q&A with Charles Salzberg


Henry Swann isn’t your typical gumshoe detective. For people who aren’t familiar with the series, how would you describe him?

            First of all, he’s not really a detective; at least he doesn’t see himself that way.  An English major in college, was trained, if that’s the word for it, as a journalist and somehow wound up working as a skip tracer, which is someone who finds people who’ve skipped out on their bills or their spouses, or are missing.  He was married and has a son, but his wife was killed in a freak accident and he gave up his son to his in-laws who live somewhere in Middle America.  He exists on the margins of society, trying desperately to make a living and find some kind of meaning to his life.  What he’s good at is finding people and amassing information, like any good journalist, and from this he is often able to solve mysteries.  But he doesn’t carry a weapon, he avoids physical confrontations as much as possible, he’s erudite, cynical, sarcastic, iconoclastic and says he will do almost anything for money.



“Swann’s Lake of Despair” is like three mysteries wrapped into one novel. Was this a challenging story to write?

            Yes, it was a way to challenge myself.  In each of these books I need to do that in order to make them interesting to write.  Generally speaking, for instance, I’m not interested in murder or in the traditional kind of detective novel where there’s a dead body or bodies, the hero or heroine collects all the clues, rounds up all the suspects, and then points the finger at the guilty party.  How many murders can we possibly have and how many interesting stories can we weave around murder?  Besides, there are so many other far more interesting crimes that occur every day, and some of them aren’t even strictly against the law.  In Swann’s Lake of Despair one of the crimes has to do with a broken heart, another a possible lost diary that might shed light on a decades old death, and the third has to do with the world of photojournalism.  I like to write about what interests me or what could interest me, and so with each of the Swann books I’d like to set him in an unfamiliar world that both of us can examine.  But having three stories going at once is difficult and at the same time also fun, because when I would get bored or stuck with one, I could move on to the other and by the time I felt that way with that one I was energized for another.



What do you like about Henry Swann’s style of detective work?

            It’s cerebral and instinctual.  He thinks about things before he acts and he’s free to move about whenever he needs to.  He’s also on his own, which means he doesn’t have to answer to anyone, even his ostensible “partner,” Goldblatt.  He’s certainly not Sherlock Holmes; he uses common sense more than a keen sense of deduction, and he’s not Mike Hammer, using brute force. To me, he’s more Everyman, you or me if we were to find ourselves in a world of investigating crime.  We’d stumble around for a while but if we were smart enough, eventually we’d get the hang of it.


The first chapter of “Swann’s Lake of Despair” appeared in a slightly different form as a short story in Akashic’s Long Island Noir. How did the plot transform as you took it from short story to novel?

            I was asked to write a short story for Long Island Noir by the editor, my friend, Kaylie Jones.  It had to be quick, and so the easiest thing for me to do was to use Henry Swann as a character.  I had to pick a location on Long Island, so I chose Long Beach, where I go several times a summer to the beach.  Then I had to come up with a plot.  After I finished, I kind of liked what I’d written and thought that the story I’d started, which was based on a true Long Beach case, might work in an extended version and so I altered it slightly and made it the first chapter of Swann’s Lake of Despair.  In truth, it just kind of provided the impetus for another Swann book, like giving someone a little push down a hill.


Are any of the characters in “Swann’s Lake of Despair” based on real people?

Julia Scully is a friend and was in my writing class for a while. She really was a photography editor, really did date Eddie, and everything I wrote about him (and her) is true. I got the stories from her and her permission to use them. So, that plot-line is based on truth.

Also based on truth is the Starr Faithfull plotline. Of course, I just took those things and ran with them – fictionalizing everything else about that. But, once again, I’ve used the names of real people in the book (with permission, of course), so that Ross Klavan, who’s a good friend of mine, is real, as is Mark Goldblatt, and even Tony LaHood – he’s someone I’ve actually never met but he’s a friend of a friend. I saw his name on Facebook, was amazed by it, contacted him, asked if I could use it in my next book, and he said, of course. That’s kind of the way these things sometimes work.


How did your illustrious career in journalism prepare you for writing novels?

            I wouldn’t exactly call it illustrious, more workman-like.  I made a living at it because I was willing to write anything and everything for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers.  The truth is, I never wanted to be a journalist.  I used to look down on it because I thought who couldn’t just go watch something or research something and then write about it.  The real art is making stuff up.  Of course, the first time I had to write an article disabused me of that.  But journalism impacted my fiction writing in very useful ways.  First, I learned how to write to word counts, which made me learn to make every word count. Second, I learned the art of research.  Third, I learned how to listen, which in turn helped me create more realistic dialog, at least I hope it’s realistic. 

            But I can’t say that journalism or anything else for that matter really prepares you for writing novels.  The only real preparation you have is actually writing them, and I was doing that since the age of 12, when I wrote, or at least started to write my first one: a roman a clef about sleep-away camp.


Without giving too much away, what can we expect in the fourth installment in the Swann series, “Swann’s Way Out?”

            It’s hard for me to answer that because I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t write from an outline, nor do I have any idea where I’m going until I get there.  But since I’m almost halfway through it, I can tell you that so far there are two main plotlines.  One has to do with an embezzled million dollars that winds up being invested in a Hollywood film, which means Swann is swept into the world of movies. The other has to do with the New York City art world.  And if you ask me to divulge any more than that, it’s not that I won’t; it’s that I can’t. I’m just pleased that I was able to come up with another title with the word Swann in it.


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