Set in London and Cornwall, The Swap is the story of, Harvey, a slacker comic book store owner who, as a teen, traded a first edition Superman One comic to Bleeder Odd, a school outcast for a length of plastic tubing and then spent the next 20 years regretting that decision.
Harvey decides to attend his upcoming high school reunion in hopes of running into Bleeder and seeing if he can obtain this comic book, now worth thousands of dollars. All seems to be going as Harvey hoped until Bleeder’s mother is found dead in her basement and Harvey finds himself, not only a suspect, but feeling and acting guilty of this murder.
Antony Moore’s style, at times, reminded me of a 1950’s paperback murder mysteries. Told from the point of few of Harvey, the writing is a bit sparse and slightly noir. Just short of the half-way mark, however, the point of few suddenly started shifting, first to Harvey’s new girlfriend and then to the police officers investigating the murder. At first, this shift bothered me, I think because it was so far into the book before it began, but then, I found it added to the pulp mystery feel by following these characters independently from the others, especially the police.
Unfortunately, the main character of The Swap is not at all likable. It’s one thing to be a slacker but he is also rude to absolutely everyone, especially his parents and his assistant. I found the relationship between Harvey and his girlfriend, Maisie, completely unbelievable.
The mystery of the story, however, is quite well thought out and is an interesting twist on the genre. There were a couple of spots before the end of the book where I felt the story could easily be wrapped up and was surprised to see how much book was still left and Mr. Moore made good use of those pages. But when the story did come to an end it was quite abrupt and I felt it could, actually, have continued. A sequel in the works, perhaps?
Title: The Swap
Author: Antony Moore
Publisher: Bantam Dell