23 December 2008

The Blonde

Duane Swierczynski's 2006 novel The Blonde has an identity crisis. Is it crime fiction? Noir? Suspense? Thriller? Sci-fi? It doesn't matter. This book is one hell of a ride and the credit goes to Mr. S for humor, non-stop action, and great characters. Not to mention a trip to Philadelphia. The premise is a little ridiculous: high-tech nano-machines that mess with your head created by a shadowy international terrorist called "The Operator." Our heroine, the aforementioned blonde, is not very heroic, ensnaring our hapless Everyman ("Jack Eisley") in a wild hunter-and-prey scheme involving a professional killer. This killer, "Kowalski," has his own agenda, wreaking personal vengenance on Philly's Cosa Nostra. Kowalski supposedly works for The Department of Homeland Security, and he carries a flashy badge with holographic eagles that dazzle everyone he deals with. Kowalski's bosses aren't sure whose side he's on, and he soon decides the same about them. Jack, our unfortunate protagonist, spends the story trying to survive the night so he can meet his wife's high-powered divorce attorney in the morning (hence the trip to Philly), where he's certain he will be legally and financially castrated and forever barred from seeing his young daughter. The blonde, meanwhile, has a heap o'problems, not the least of which is a hopelessly far-fetched (but true) story that no one believes. She has to delude, deceive and manipulate everyone she encounters not only to save her own life but also to outwit the bad guys. If it sounds like a juggler running out of hands, that just points out Swierczynski's skill managaing all the plot threads and loose ends. Grab a copy and hold on for dear life!

I got this book--a new hardcover--for a few measly bucks at Edward R. Hamilton. If you don't get the print catalog, you are missing out.

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