NC Literary Hall of Fame



A Dredging in Swann by Tim Garvin

Blackstone Publishing
$25.90, hardcover / $Kindle: $9.99, e-book / $26.68, audiobook
ISBN: 978-1-9825-5084-4
January, 2020
Fiction: Mystery / Crime
Available from your local bookstore or

"Tim Garvin’s muscular A Dredging in Swann offers two stories in one. The lawman Seb Creek must unravel a complicated murder. That’s the mystery. The suspense tale is whether Cody Cooper, a PTSD afflicted Marine, can extricate himself from his lunatic crime. As the narratives intertwine, they capture both the meanness and humanity of the rural South. The pages crackle with ironic observation and compassionate humor. This book is deadly serious. And serious fun.”
—Fred Chappell, former NC poet laureate and author of Farewell, I’m Bound to Leave You and many other books

"Tim Garvin’s shrewd debut novel churns with unsettled scores. His wily and disarmingly sentimental detective Seb Creek dredges the past of tidewater Swann County to settle them. Creek’s subtle interrogations make this novel a signal launch.”
—Kris Lackey, USA Today bestselling author of Nail’s Crossing and Greasy Bend

"I’ve never read half a book in one sitting, but this time I did. Early on, the twists of A Dredging in Swann gripped tight and kept me shackled to the page. The book is full of rich deep characters and an amazingly complicated weave of plot. It’s written in strong, colorful prose and with a pace that sucks you in and holds you. I couldn’t leave until Detective Seb Creek had aired all secrets, old and new. Highly recommended—but word of warning … hold on to something while you’re reading.”
—C. Hope Clark, author of the Edisto Island Mysteries

"Tim Garvin delivers the goods with his first Seb Creek novel, A Dredging in Swann. Sharp and insightful, this story of a former Marine MP turned small-city cop is a welcome addition to the canon of southern mysteries, and sets the stage for great things to come. Well done, Mr. Garvin! "
—John Hart, winner of two Edgar Awards and author of The Hush

Twenty-two people die on the same day in Swann County, North Carolina. Twenty-one are lost when two Marine helicopters collide over a swamp on a military base. The twenty-second corpse is Leo Sackler, found hung inside the ancient well he had been digging out. Sackler had just been released from prison and is famous in Swann county, not only because of his forty-year-old crime, an axe murder, but because even before the governor granted him executive clemency, he inherited more than fifteen million dollars from a reclusive spinster.

The Leo Sackler case falls to Seb Creek, a former Marine recovering from PTSD, now a detective on the sheriff’s investigation squad. What falls to Cody Cooper, a Venus flytrap poacher camping in the swamps, is a case of stinger missiles. In a stoned haze, Cody, a formerly homeless soldier also ravaged by PTSD, sees the missiles drop from one of the choppers’ cargo nets and buries them on an island.

As the investigations proceed, one by Seb Creek, the other by the frantic federal government, Seb finds himself drawn into both. The trail involves the forty year old murder, drone surveillance of a hog farm, an outdoor gas chamber, a mystery object at the bottom of Leo’s well, and finally a third murder and an ancient testament. In the end, both investigations connect and resolve together.

A Dredging in Swann is a page-turner that deals with themes of war, love, justice, and, in the end, with healing.

Tim Garvin grew up in Arizona, then the Alaskan wilderness north of Juneau (where, he is fond of saying, he lived with whales in the front yard and bears in the back yard).

Now he lives beside a creek outside Durham, North Carolina, with his wife, Cynthia, and dog, Blue, both excellent companions. He built a cabin beside the creek, and in the mornings goes down there to write. In the afternoons, he throws pots, gardens, reads, discusses life (and plot, character, and pace) with Cynthia, and sometimes lures her and Blue to the coast to float around the Outer Banks in a little sailboat. He just finished a second Seb Creek novel, Four Evenings.

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