David Swinson served with the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington, D.C.) for sixteen years before retiring as a highly decorated detective. With tours of duty in uniform, tactical, plainclothes/undercover, investigations, as a detective and with the Special Investigations Bureau/Major Crimes, he brings not only deep law enforcement experience, but also a real sense of authenticity to his crime novels. His newest book, Trigger, is the final installment in the Frank Marr trilogy and has been called a “pulse-pounding, stripped-down excursion into the badlands of the nation's capital.”

Stay Thirsty Magazine was thrilled to visit with David Swinson at his home in Northern Virginia for this Conversation.

STAY THIRSTY: Your latest book, Trigger, is the third installment in your Frank Marr trilogy. Who really is Frank Marr and how has he evolved in these three books?

DAVID SWINSON: Frank Marr is someone, I hope, who is the exact man I wrote him to be. I was drawn to his character because I wanted to step away from police procedural and have someone who would break the rules. I also wanted a flawed, broken man, but not someone who complained about everything. He is a man who is content with the way he is, even enjoys the lifestyle. You can only take a character like his so far before he self-destructs so that is why it’s a trilogy. Even though Frank doesn’t use cocaine in Trigger, he’s still messed up and the only thing he occasionally complains about is missing cocaine. By the third book he did develop more of a sense of humor, but much of that has to do with his new working partnership.

David Swinson

STAY THIRSTY: As a former police detective, how do you view the circumstances when a police officer shoots someone?

DAVID SWINSON: Even though I have been to several officer-related shootings over the course of my career, I have never investigated one. That was up to Internal Affairs.  Unfortunately, it happens, most of the time (based on my experience) that they were justified. Of course, I am relieved when an officer is put in a life-threatening situation and survives. I don’t know any law enforcement officers who go on their tour and want to get in a terrible situation like that. Taking a life, even when it’s justified is a terrible thing, and it’s something they have to live with.

STAY THIRSTY: Why do drugs play such an important role in the underground economy? How has the drug culture contributed to the stigmatization of underprivileged neighborhoods and to crime?

DAVID SWINSON: It’s easy money for crews, organized gangs, and suburban high school kids. It’s not just restricted to poor urban neighborhoods anymore. It’s everywhere.

STAY THIRSTY: How did you view the forces of good vs. evil when writing about Frank Marr and the other characters in Trigger?

DAVID SWINSON: I didn’t think about good or evil, just characters who make decisions. Sometimes they make mistakes, but other times they just make stupid decisions. It was an awful mistake with respect to what Al Luna did. It was neither good or evil.

STAY THIRSTY: How prevalent are alcohol and drug addiction in the police forces around the country? How are vice cops able to resist the temptations and stay clean?

DAVID SWINSON: I know that it exists. I’ve seen it on the news, not only with local jurisdictions, but with federal agencies. I’ve never seen it on the job at my department, but I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I never associated with officers or detectives who did that kind of stuff. Quite honestly, the majority of us would turn another officer in if we found they were using illegal narcotics on the job or getting drunk on the job. That could, and probably would jeopardize a life, not just their own.

STAY THIRSTY: What role does race play in Trigger? Is race destiny in the eyes of your characters?

DAVID SWINSON: Race doesn’t play a part in my books. I’m playing on the readers assumptions as they read the characters. Marr could be African American or Caucasian, but certain characters, based on description (not dialogue) are identified by race.

STAY THIRSTY: Which prevails in your book – justice or loyalty and why?

DAVID SWINSON: Both, justice and loyalty. Frank did his best, but despite his moral ambiguity, he won’t cross certain lines even for his friend. Al Luna could face indictment for manslaughter, or the prosecutors and the department might find the shooting justified. Those answers in real life will often take months and so that is why I chose not to go there. It would have taken an epilogue, and made the book something else.

STAY THIRSTY: Will Frank Marr be back?

DAVID SWINSON: Yes, but not as a Frank Marr book. He’ll be a character, though.

(David Swinson photo credit: Jeffrey Baldwin)

David Swinson    


All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.