Crime fiction author David Swinson discusses his favorite mystery & thriller readers from Graham Greene’s moralist thriller to adventure-bound spy novels. His newest international crime fiction book City on the Edge is on sale Tuesday, May 25th from Mulholland Books.
Graham Greene; John Updike (Introduction by)
My dad used to read Graham Greene to me as bedtime stories. I did not understand the book at the time but was taken in by the tone of my dad’s voice as he read. I also didn’t realize the book was considered one of Greene’s best works. I read it again in my twenties, and then several more times over the years. It had a great effect on me. The darkness, and how that darkness was made so beautiful. Especially the nameless protagonist and his extreme brokenness, but how you were drawn to him, still liked and rooted for him.
Maj Sjöwall; Per Wahlöö; Henning Mankell (Introduction by)
I first read these books around 1994, when I was still in the police academy. There are ten books in the series, which take place from 1965 to 1975. Even though the city was Stockholm, far from DC, it felt familiar. I was also inspired by the authenticity of the police procedure. I go back to certain books, like The Laughing Policeman or Cop Killer when I need to be reminded that simplicity is often the answer to a great story, as long as you have a strong, compelling protagonist, and are able to reveal both the beauty and the dark side of a city, almost like a character itself.
I’ve been a fan of Tana French for a long time. In the Woods, the first book in her Dublin Murder Squad series was the first book I read. I am always impressed with a book that gets the police procedure right, and French nailed it. I was also drawn to the cinematic quality of the book. I was heavily influenced by that, especially with The Second Girl, the first in my Frank Marr series, and in my stand-alone, City on the Edge.
John le Carré
When my dad moved up north, he left most of his books with me. Among them were several by John Le Carre, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The book seemed to be based on a lot of Le Carre’s experiences when he worked in intelligence. I have always wanted to write a spy novel but had never lived the life. My books are hugely based on my life experiences. City on the Edge is the closest I’ll get to a spy novel.
1972, Beirut, Lebanon. Young American Matthew lives with his father, a rising foreign service attache, and mother, in an exclusive community of ex-patriots. It is the summer Matthew becomes a teenager, falls in love, nearly dies, and watches his family, and the city, fall apart.
It is in this world of Western schemers and local merchants, of hoodlums and politicians, that Matthew begins to solve the mystery of who his father really is, and what role he is really playing in the upheaval that is shaking the city loose of its old, civilized and way and ushering in a new and frightening radicalism.