Sunday, June 8, 2008

Severance Package is out!

Duane Swierczynski is a fairly new writer. He broke onto the scene a couple years ago with The Wheelman, then later popped up with The Blonde...but then we had to wait. And wait. And fucking WAIT. I had heard about Severance Package well over a year before it came out and I was pumped. But why didn't anything come out in 2007?

Being a crime fiction fan is pretty easy. You pick your favorite authors and just wait for them to throw shit at you once you've caught up. Allan Guthrie has been a steady one-book-a-year guy. So has Jason Starr and George Pelecanos...until 2007, that is. Ken Bruen seems to crap brilliant novels and the great Charlie Huston pops out two a year like the fucking champ he truly is. But Swierczy, the guy had too long a gap. Fucking St. Martin's.

But the good news is, I got to read his latest back around Christmas thanks to Richard Katz of Mystery One throwing an A.R.C. my way. It wasn't the cool one I saw on Swierczynski's site where the cover looks like a termination pink slip but it was still pretty badass. And I read that thing in a day - no shit.

I remember sitting in a restaurant with a friend that day and she had to take a call so I busted out Severance Package and she ended up making a few other calls. It's that good. Swierczynski has one of those styles that people are developing right now where it doesn't even really feel like you're reading a book but watching a kick-ass movie. And this high-concept craziness would be perfect for a midnight movie in a fucked up old theater with a big dank balcony.

The entire thing takes place one Saturday morning when a bunch of employees are called into work for a meeting. At the meeting the boss reveals that he has been given the orders from above that everyone in the small company is to be dead terminated. They can either drink the peaceful-time kool-aid or be shot. Try and get out via elevator or fire doors, you get hosed by the poisonous gas primed into the doorframes from the outside. Everyone must go, boss included, no exceptions. Doesn't get much more high-concept than that, right?

From there it is basically a bunch of hot chicks in business suits kicking the shit out of each other. Things are revealed things are withheld and everything is fucking brutal and a hell of a lot of fun. In other words, it's a movie just dying to be made.

But then again, his other two books were the same way and we have yet to see anything become of it yet. The Blonde was about a guy injected with nanomachines that will make him spontaneously combust if he is not within ten feet of another human being at all times. The Wheelman was abou a mute getaway driver trying to make it out of Philadelphia alive following the aftermath of a botched bank robbery. Swierczy is all about ridiculous and crazy and Severance Package might be his most entertaining yet. It is violent, funny, cinematic and, in its own warped way, very smart. And - one of my favorite things mentioned earlier - it takes place in his own universe (or Swierczyverse) that has been established over the course of the previous two books. You don't have to be familiar with the two preceding it, but if you are there are little connections and surprises ahead of you.

So the summer of noir has begun! All the way into September we'll be getting new books from Allan Guthrie, Victor Gischler, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Charlie Huston and the latest from the brilliant duo: Ken Bruen and Jason Starr!

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