A Detailed Man


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The voice of Detective Simeon is also the voice of a man who reads books—he has hundreds of books on his shelves. The city is quiet for lack of sirens, horns, loud people and the sound of their bottles breaking in nearby dumpsters. I hate funerals. You can count on that. That was about four hours ago. I feel the loss but not the pain. The dead grieving the dead. First we hear the silence.

It matters as little as whether you decipher ANC or not. A weary lot is thine, Detective Simeon.

Yes, it surely is. I knew a lot of mothers too and a lot of kids like Grim who used to walk and talk like little kids should. I watched most of them grow, some not. They all learned how to walk like Grim and all the other big boys who trailed behind him who were slinging dope on the corner ever day. And talking to most of them, they all knew their time was short. Even the somewhat decent mothers knew it was bound to happen. He tells a great story that keeps you rapidly turning pages. There are several great interrogation scenes in the novel, none cleverer than the one when Simeon arrests a young drug-dealer on a lesser charge only to lead him in the direction of confessing to a greater crime.

Simeon is no do-gooder. Various unconnected cases run parallel through the novel—typical, I am told, of the police procedural as distinct from the traditional one-case detective novel. The novel comes to a strong conclusion, not only in the obligatory action-scene in which the detective is pitted gun to gun against the primary criminal of the novel, but in a strangely affecting postscript in which two officially unresolved cases leave us on the one hand with pity for another likely victim of the worst crime in the book but also with fellow-feeling for the perpetrator of another crime.

The last paragraphs of the novel encapsulate some of this and are a poetic masterpiece. But you would have to read the whole novel to see why. A reviewer may not tell you the end of a murder mystery. Murder mystery? This is a highly complex novel. At one point, Simeon is driving along and thinks of something he has just read. He had told us earlier that he was reading G. He was having trouble finishing it, he said, but a sentence from it comes into his mind: Our lives can be like a tangle of unfinished tales.

As always, Swinson drops the quotation into his text and leaves it there. Facts have at least to be sorted out into compartments, without this selection our life seems a tangle of unfinished tales, a heap of novels, all volume one. Detective Simeon certainly does not discuss this point. But what David Swinson does in his Detailed Man is to capture the fragmentariness of fact in an amazing piece of fiction.

Call it a police procedural if you will. Or a tangle of unfinished tales. Even at the district, everyone coming and going, like Union Station most of the time. If you have any questions for him, please let me know. I will post a longer bio at that time. For now, a few facts:. David Swinson began his career at the height of the punk rock movement in the early s.

He produced spoken word events with Hunter S. Thompson, Dr. In , Swinson pursued another passion — law enforcement. He returned to his home base of Washington DC, where he joined the Metropolitan Police Department and worked robbery, homicide and narcotics details. He currently spends most of his time with his wife and daughter in Northern Virginia, where he is working on his second novel. There are mistakes that could easily be corrected. Since I am sure this novel will go into other editions, I imagine the corrections will be made.

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Such a great review! I am a big fan of police procedurals in books and on tv. As for editing, I see so many books and newspapers now that suffer from lack of editing. Nan, so nice that you read this one! Let me know how you like it! You are commenting using your WordPress.


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You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Sign me up! Jan 21, Suzanne Williams rated it really liked it. My first impression of this book is that it reads like a cop is telling the story. After reading the bio of the author, I know why. I appreciate being drawn into a world known only to those who have worked it. The start of the story is a bit slow and drawn out.

It wasn't until halfway through that the action started. The main character was likeable; I was cheering for him to have a closer relationship with his "girl" friend, but that perh My first impression of this book is that it reads like a cop is telling the story. The main character was likeable; I was cheering for him to have a closer relationship with his "girl" friend, but that perhaps is not what the book was about.

In the end, this story is an interesting take on the standard crime novel, almost a day-to-day look at how a homicide detective's life would be. Good read and worth my time. May 15, Mike rated it really liked it Shelves: crime-fiction. Simeon was recently detailed to the Homicide Cold Case squad to give him a break and hopefully to give him the chance to recover from a persistent case of Bell's Palsy.

Simeon's break doesn't last long and he's soon on the homicide squad handling a well publicized case. Written with a dry humor and an intimate knowledge of the DC Police, Swinson has written a good first book that is impossible to pigeon hole into a particular genre. I look forward to his next book. In the spirit of full disclosure, I used to work with Swinson, who was an outstanding detective. Dec 07, Greg rated it really liked it. Initially put off by the present tense narration and slow opening, when i was expecting a fairly standard police procedural.

Went back later and got hooked in. An interesting narrator, and portrays the job of a detective that makes it feel like a real job: sometimes interesting, sometimes tedious, lots more paperwork than anyone wants. Turns out the author has some firsthand experience. Not my usual preference, but glad i picked this one up.

Feb 21, Heather rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed. The book takes readers on a wonderful journey through the life and trials of not only a cop, but the difficulties affecting someone that has a disease. Granted its not a quick read, but it was wonderfully written and well detailed.

Jan 17, Angela Alvey rated it it was amazing. This was a really good novel by a retired DC police detective. I hope he writes some more. This is free on Kindle right now. Mar 29, John Sheridan rated it it was amazing Shelves: , favorites. May 19, Dorothy James rated it it was amazing. He is that. He is also a first-rate writer, and his Detailed Man is not easily to be slotted into any sub-genre of crime-writing.

Yes, standard police-related topics crop up: forensics, autopsies, the gathering of evidence, the use of search warrants and interrogation. Of course they do. And it is Ezra Simeon that Swinson is writing about. Either we figure out things from the context, or we look them up. To read this novel is to hear the authentic voice of Ezra Simeon without narrative overlay. It is this authentic voice that penetrates your head from start to finish and stays with you when you have read the last line. No monotony here. The voice has an amazing range, playing on images that we do not always immediately recognize as images.

It is the voice of a detective who knows well how to write plain unadorned documents like a Death Report. But then it turns out that this particular location will echo through the novel—7th and O--accruing highly evocative connotations of street justice. Thus does a street corner become a poetic device, and a plot-turner. The voice of Detective Simeon is also the voice of a man who reads books--he has hundreds of books on his shelves. There is one woman whom he seems to love but whose friendship he does not want to lose through ill-advised declarations of affection.

But this thread does not set the keynote of the novel; it does not overwhelm the highly suspenseful plot-line. I watched most of them grow, some not. They all learned how to walk like Grim and all the other big boys who trailed behind him who were slinging dope on the corner ever day, And talking to most of them, they all knew their time was short. Even the somewhat decent mothers knew it was bound to happen. It paid the rent. It bought the food. It never lasts. Simple devastating truth. Not for fun. Not that he ever seems to be writing to educate the reader, still less to pontificate about crime.

He tells a great story that keeps you rapidly turning pages. There are several great interrogation scenes in the novel, none cleverer than the one when Simeon arrests a young drug-dealer on a lesser charge only to lead him in the direction of confessing to a greater crime. Simeon is no do-gooder. Various unconnected cases run parallel through the novel—typical of the police procedural as distinct from the traditional one-case detective novel. The novel comes to a strong conclusion, not only in the de rigueur action-scene in which the detective is pitted gun to gun against the primary criminal of the novel, but in a strangely affecting postscript in which two officially unresolved cases leave us on the one hand with pity for another likely victim of the worst crime in the book but also with fellow-feeling for the perpetrator of another crimes.

The last paragraphs of the novel encapsulate some of this and are a poetic masterpiece. But you would have to read the whole novel to see why. A reviewer may not tell you the end of a murder mystery. Murder mystery? Police procedural? Whatever you call it, this is a highly complex, first-rate novel, not to be lost to a wide readership through the folly of easy categorization. Feb 26, Nikmaack rated it it was amazing. I mean, I guess it's okay. Yeah, not the best but I guess I'll keep reading.

Gee, I've been reading it for four hours straight. What, it's over? Oh, man. The detective is delightful and dark, obsessive and weird, lonely and kind of crazy. The dialogue is fun. The internal monologue is killer.

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It gets a little claustrophobic, in our narrator's head. But that honestly is part of the joy of it. The book itself feels real, with a k "Man, this book's not so great. The book itself feels real, with a kind of rolling chaotic sprawling weirdness. Its realism is almost its downfall. Maybe there won't be any answers. Maybe there is no narrative. Maybe we're not going anywhere.

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That tension ends up working in its favour. I don't owe you anything. The book feels so self contained and a thing unto itself, so it's hard to imagine what other sorts of novels David Swinson has written. I will have to check those other books out. I hope he doesn't bring this same detective into his other books, because that would be heresy.

Jul 22, Patricia Duhon rated it it was amazing. Great Read!! Highly recommend. Looking forward to the next one Mr Swinson certainly knows his territory and expresses himself in an interesting and somewhat unusual way.

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I really enjoyed this story and finished it in two sittings. Can't wait for the next. Mar 08, Timothy M. Not as good as the Frank Marr series. But not bad. Jun 04, Moirad rated it liked it. Washington DC setting, police procedural, narrator a loner detective with a personal problem of course. OK, but not George Pelecanos. Oct 30, Ramon A Carabeo rated it it was amazing.

The more I read the better it gets Great book with an intimate knowledge of real police work and procedures, he is the real thing watch out Michael Comely. Mar 10, Heather rated it it was ok. This book moved so slowly I spent my time while I was reading it watching the kindle percentages go up and wondering when something was going to happen. It's about a policeman working on homicide cases but none of the cases are really compelling and the whole thing just crawls along at a snail's pace. When I read at the end that the author was a former DC cop, it made more sense because a lot of the book was the main character a DC cop going to different office buildings in DC to get reports a This book moved so slowly I spent my time while I was reading it watching the kindle percentages go up and wondering when something was going to happen.

When I read at the end that the author was a former DC cop, it made more sense because a lot of the book was the main character a DC cop going to different office buildings in DC to get reports and subpoenas.

The author seemed to take a lot of pride in knowing the exact floor number of the building where this certain office is located. That's great but it doesn't equal a plot.


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Unfortunately I'd have to say this is a book to skip. Jan 22, Caitlin rated it really liked it Shelves: A wonderfully gripping and well-written police procedural, as much a hero's journey as a mystery its writing held me in the grip of its story.

Detective Ezra Simeon has always been driven in his work - so much so that he has begun suffering from Bell's Palsy and is living with a partially paralyzed face. In a holding pattern waiting for retirement, Simeon is called by an old friend to take over a high profile case from their mutual friend who has been murdered. The course of the case, the discov A wonderfully gripping and well-written police procedural, as much a hero's journey as a mystery its writing held me in the grip of its story.

The course of the case, the discovery of the mystery, and the reclamation of a great detective makes for a super read. May 31, Bill Hart rated it it was amazing. Good story This was a somewhat dark but excellent read. We follow the course of a Washington detective who is been on leave and covers a cold case that links to a more recent case involves two men some prostitutes and a long simmering anger. Dark and long read but good nonetheless. Jan 20, Shelly rated it liked it. Reading this book felt like moving through a fog. The narrator is foggy - depressed, sleepless, and battling Bell's Palsy.

The title is appropriate - we get a lot of detailed, blow-by-blow descriptions of his investigations and daily routine. It's very well described but feels tedious. I'm sure it's realistic but it isn't always the most riveting reading. Jun 11, angela s thompson rated it it was amazing. Fantastic police detective thriller!

Keeps you on edge until the end. Jul 25, Catherine rated it really liked it. A dark thriller. The lead detective does not have a happy personal life but is likeable nonetheless. An enjoyable story with sort of a happy ending.

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