Swann’s Way Out: Charles Salzburg
Henry Swann is a unique guy with a sarcastic sense of humor. His humorous quips and hilarious retorts will not only endear his close friends to him but also make you wonder just why he’s not into something other than finding people for a living. In a poker game some players bluff, other bid hoping to win the pot while some wait until everyone folds knowing that if he holds out he might become the big winner in that hand. Henry Swann found himself at a friendly poker game with players that were inept, poor at the game and wondering why there was nothing much to munch on. Game played, disgruntled losers left and Stan Katz pulls himself wanting to have him come to his office in the morning. Henry was hired to find a man named Rusty Jacobs for Stan. Stan claimed that he embezzled, stole, borrowed, laundered or somehow made one million dollars vanish and he wants it back ASAP. Rusty is the one that took the money and when you meet him you might wonder how Swann kept his cool for the most part, didn’t take him out and not called the cops. Something about Rusty is quirky, ridiculous, naïve and definitely at times annoying as he tries to convince Henry that somehow the money was really not just Stan’s and that he used it to get into the film business to become a film producer. Thinking that he had a perfect hit on his hands he not only invested and used Stan’s money so to speak but had two other investors also. One named Terry who wanted his latest conquest in a starring if not pivotal role or no money and the other a foreigner named Ibrahim who seemed to have lots of money and claims he was the backer but when you finally meet him and hear the entire story about his million dollars your head will whirl, and you will wonder just how poor Henry was going to explain it all to Stan. Stan only wants the money back but being smart in his own way, patient to a rare extent Henry realizes that he’s being played, swindled and even though he’s getting paid for his efforts somehow the finder’s fee for the money just might slip out of his hands.
Stan is not too bright and he is trying to convince Swann that the money was just his and that Rusty took it from him. But, when you meet Rusty and the rest of the cast of this Christian film you will think that you are either in an Abbot and Costello episode or Laurel and Hardy. Rusty is not too bright and his light bulb is dull but basically he actually believes what he says and although he too was fleeced and lied to the end result of the entire caper is nothing short of the Odd Couple with Felix and Oscar. Added in poor Stan swears he was robbed. Added in we have his landlord and good friend Klavan whose wife is into art and this brings us to the second problem in his life his so-called partner Goldblatt.
When Goldblatt enters the scene it’s a whole other story because his goal is to eat himself into oblivion, torment poor Swann into thinking the way he does and creating another deal or case for them that will include some dangerous people. Someone or group of people are scamming people that buy what they think is a priceless painting and then getting conned into thinking it’s a fake. Entering the world of art in New York City takes him to try and get justice for another poor unsuspecting client who is being fleeced thinking that the painting he bought might be a fake. But, when the sting is on and the reality of the situation comes to light you won’t believe the history behind this painting and where it really belongs. The man who owned it wants the money back that he lost but when Goldblatt has Henry pose as an art collector and uses someone’s loft that has expensive paintings as a front, the situation gets even more complicated and the end result hilarious. But, will the client think so and what about Goldblatt when he learns the truth behind the painting.
If this isn’t bad enough poor Henry Swann keeps traveling back and forth from New York to Los Angeles hoping to get Stan’s money back but instead winds up hunting down Ibrahim for Rusty and the low rate of 1000 dollars a day no less than 2000 in cash upfront. Charlie Schulman is the man whose loft they want to use for the con and yet he does not tell them the worth of the paintings hanging or the market value of any of them yet Swann does his research and learns what he has to know but will the deal go through. Watch and join in when the seller comes into the room, wants the check and Henry leads him to the nearest bank to hold the check hoping it will be delivered the following day in return for the money. But, when the authenticity of the painting comes to light and something else that Klavan’s wife uncovers the end result will be one con vs. another con and who knows where the painting and the money will wind up.
If that is not enough Henry learns that his teenage son, Noah, who he has not set eyes on since he was four, has disappeared from his grandmother’s home. They are frantic. Poor Henry has no idea where to start but his sleuthing skills kick in and when he gets in contact with one young teen who leads him to another young girl that he is coo coo eyed over the pieces just might fit into place. Meet Delilah a rich, overbearing, into herself, self-absorbed would be actress that has entered a cult thinking that the leader can help her get centered and find her inner self or inner peace. With Swann finding himself trying to climb out of this New York City art deal, getting the million back for Stan and dealing with his missing son, it’s amazing that he finds time to even have a cup of coffee. But, wait until you meet the other would be star of Rusty’s film named Jolene who has them all convinced that she is a dumb blonde but instead knows her way around her own form of scam or con by pretending to be not too bright and getting what she wants from anyone that will give it to her at the moment including making a pass at Henry. If that isn’t enough wait until you meet Ibrahim’s wife, kids and see the rich environment he lives in. His wife lets the cat out of the bag with where she thinks the money might be and the end result when he finally meets him and learns the fate of the million is once again out of a mob movie with poor Henry as the mark. But, smart, astute, showing no fear what he does to convince the two men following him and blocking his way turns the tables in another direction. So, will he get back the million? Who knows? Will he find Noah and learn why he ran away or is Delilah now his main squeeze in his own mind? What about the painting? All three questions and cases can only be solved by Henry and of course author Charles Salzburg. To learn the hilarious endings to all three you need to read this mystery book, figure out who is telling the truth and who is really great at making it up and meet Raucher the guy in the middle of the art scam claiming he has this great painting for sale. But, wait until you learn more about its secret.
Poor Stan will he ever recover? Poor Rusty will he ever learn to check things out and people before venturing into a deal? What about Ibrahim will he come clean and return the money? What about his wife will she go after Henry since she really is in this marriage for the money? An ending that is so well crafted, vividly depicted and one private eye that gets the job done even with his wild and wacky partner Goldblatt, their ridiculously long meals, no office, no business cards and no formal agreement but for those of us that love Henry Swann we can’t wait to see what antics he and Goldblatt will be up to next. Seligson what will happen when learns about the painting? What about Stan will he have to close his doors? Author Charles Salzburg once again leaves us wanting more.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine