WASHINGTON - A retired D.C. police officer who spent years chasing drug dealers and burglars through the city’s mean streets has turned what he learned into a new series of books.
David Swinson grew up just blocks from where his novels are set. He remembers what 14th Street was like back in the day.
"This whole area was like heroin central and the prostitutes used to come up and read you a menu,” he reminisced.
After attending college in California, Swinson came back and joined the police force. He first worked patrol before matching wits with dealers and thieves.
"I specialized in burglary and I liked it just because the burglar has their ear to the track,” he said. “I mean, if there is a shooting right up the street, they know about it. If they are working this area, they can work you up the chain so you can get to the big dealers. I liked burglars.”
This led Swinson to come up with Frank Marr, the protagonist in his first book The Second Girl and his new book titled Crime Song. Marr is a retired D.C. narcotics cop turned private investigator who feeds his drug habit by targeting the corner boys.
"He uses the knowledge that he created in narcotics and he knows where a lot of the drug boys are, and so, he targets their homes and burglarizes them for the stash,” said Swinson. "He likes his lifestyle and I had fun with it and I think that is what made him likeable.”
The new book is a wild ride through familiar D.C. streets that feature the Shaw and Logan Circle neighborhoods as well landmarks like the 9:30 Club and the Florida Avenue Grill.
In the latest book, Marr is a music lover who gets awfully mad when his vinyl collection of Fugazi and Pixies records are stolen from his home. It is a turning point that is central to the plot.
Marr is a streetwise tough ex-cop who does a lot of drugs and he is also a news junkie who gets his news from the FOX 5 App.
Swinson has always wanted to be a writer. From the age of 17, he was putting words to paper.
He told us, "I had several rejections prior to The Second Girl and after A Detailed Man, and I had Frankie Marr in my head for the longest time. I just said I’m going to break away. I’m just going to do something and have fun with it and that is what happened.”
Swinson is now writing the third installment of a trilogy and knows Frank Marr, as we know him, may not be around for long.
"You can't take him real far – a character like this,” the author said. “You got to end it or it’s got to turn into something else and I would like turn him into something else because I really like him and I don't want to give him up.”
Crime Song went on sale this week.