When rare photos, a scandalous diary and a beautiful woman all go missing at once, the stage is set for Henry Swann's most challenging act of detection. In Swann's Lake of Despair, the wise and world-weary skip tracer tries to avoid a dance with death. It starts with an offer to become partners from his slovenly and unreliable frenemy, Goldblatt. In a new agency, the disbarred lawyer would provide the leads and muscle, while Swann would do all the fancy footwork. While Swann's bank account gives him no choice but to leap in, their first cases make him fear he's taking the fall. A lost diary by a free-loving Jazz Age flapper is worth enough to someone that Swann takes a beat-down on an abandoned boardwalk. Pilfered photos of Marilyn Monroe propel him deep into the past of an alcoholic shutterbug. In the midst of this Swann must fly from New York to Florida to Texas to help a lovelorn writer locked in a tormented pas de deux with his elusive lover. The cases all collide in a finale that lifts the curtain on crucial, deadly facts of life for everyone--including Swann.