Swierczynski, Duane. Canary.

NY: Mulholland Books, 2015.

I’ve been a big fan of Duane’s idiosyncratic crime novels for some years now and this one may be his best. There’s a reason it was nominated for an Edgar. Serafina Holland is a very straight-arrow 17-year-old college freshman in an honors program and her future looks very bright. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and she’s at a party (pretending to drink beer and smoke pot), taking a break before term papers are due and then finals. A guy she barely knows begs her to give him a lift down to South Philly, supposedly to pick up a book and, being a nice person, she agrees.


Published in: on 10 May 2017 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Swierczynski, Duane. Revolver.

NY: Mulholland Books, 2016.

I stumbled on one of this author’s earlier crime novels a few years ago and became an almost instant fan of his rather noir style. He’s a Philadelphian through and through and the seamy side of the city he knows so well becomes a character in his books, too. And this time, he indulges in an unusual sort of narrative strategy.


Appel, Allen. Twice Upon a Time.

NY: Carrol & Graf, 1988.

This is the second book of a very above-average time travel series, featuring New York history professor Alex Balfour, who can’t control when he will be yanked back to an earlier time or when he will return. But he has come to look forward, rather guiltily, to the alive-ness he feels adventuring in the past. There’s also the matter of his girlfriend, Molly, a New York Times reporter, with whom he has reestablished a relationship after a ten-year gap.


Swierczynski, Duane. The Blonde.

NY: St. Martin, 2006.

Jack Eisley, Chicago newspaperman, is drinking boilermakers at the airport bar in Philadelphia, trying to find the energy to go find his hotel and the backbone to face his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s high-powered divorce lawyer in the morning. And then the attractive blonde with whom he’s passing the time says, “I poisoned your drink.”


Swierczynski, Duane. The Wheelman.

NY: St. Martin, 2005.

Overall, this is one of the best noir thrillers I’ve read in a long time. But it’s not the sort of thing you want to hand your grandma who’s a fan of Miss Marple and who believes in happy endings.


Published in: on 29 November 2013 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Swierczynski, Duane. Expiration Date.

NY: Minotaur Books, 2010.

I can’t remember the last novel I read that opens with the first-person narrator describing his own death by gunshot. And it just gets weirder from there. Mickey Wade (real name Wadcheck, which is why he changed it) is a Philadelphia journalist in his mid-thirties who has just been laid off in the middle of a recession. He’s broke and immediate re-employment is unlikely. He has to give up his nice apartment and retreat to his grandfather’s one-room efficiency back home in Frankford, one of the least desirable parts of the city, where he had sworn he would never return.


Published in: on 27 November 2012 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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