The Second Girl by David Swinson

I had heard this book being described as gritty, which immediately caught my attention. I like stories that capture the violence that is prevalent in society and I enjoy reading books that have a “raw” feeling to them. Based on the description, I felt that this book would be right for me. So here is my review:

Frank Marr was a decorated police detective before he retired early. Now, he makes a living as a private eye for a defense attorney. Most think that Frank retired early because he was burnt out. Little do they know that he actually left because of his drug addiction – an addiction that he is still fueling. Frank has been skillful at hiding his drug use from others – until now. When he accidentally discovers a kidnapped teenage girl in the home of a drug gang, Frank is thrust into the spotlight and is then asked to investigate into the disappearance of another girl, whose case is eerily similar to this one. But with the status of a hero comes heightened scrutiny that could reveal his dirty secret to the world.

I will begin by saying that I had very high expectations for this story. Unfortunately, it did not live up to them.

At first, I was intrigued by the language and the description of the scene. Frank is a gritty character, and he is definitely NOT your traditional hero. However, he doesn’t seem to really have a moral bone in his body. After rescuing the first girl, all he can think about is how annoying of a situation this is for him. For someone who was once on the force, he sure doesn’t act like it! As the story progressed, I found that the dialogue got cheesier and cheesier, to the point where I really couldn’t take it seriously. I mean…. bro? Really????

I did enjoy how realistic the story was. I could see how an investigation would proceed in the manner that it was depicted here in this book, and I could also envision the different interactions between all of the different characters. But there were still events that were quite ridiculous, like how Frank pretended to be a girl’s uncle and beat up a kid. It doesn’t matter if the teenager in question is a bad seed or not, you can’t just make your character do something completely random and out of the ordinary, if you have spent the whole novel trying to paint a realistic picture!

I also had an issue with the love interest that was included. It really wasn’t necessary, and it didn’t seem believable. Why the author included it is the real mystery here.

Now onto the drug addiction itself. I thought there would be an interesting backstory that would explain how Frank got addicted, and perhaps there would be a good reason why he never tried to get out of it. Nope. The author didn’t broach it at all; instead, he just kept on mentioning what drug was taken when and in what amount. It ended up having no relevance to the story, and was actually more of a nuisance than anything else.

Overall, this story left me wondering what was the point of it all. I understand that the world isn’t a nice place and that sometimes nothing really changes even if you catch the bad guys. But this novel just went in a circle, where the ending was just as unfulfilling and depressing as the beginning. There were too many random and scattered elements that didn’t add up. In the end, I’m going to have to give this novel a 2/5 stars.

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