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Monday, May 26, 2008

"Severance Package" by Duane Swierczynski

Official Duane Swierczynski Blog
Order “Severance Package
Read Reviews of “Severance Package” via Bookgasm

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Duane Swierczynski is the author of six non-fiction books including “The Big Book O’ Beer”, edited “Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir”, and has written four crime novels including his latest, “Severance Package”. Until recently, Duane was the editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia City Paper and has authored two interactive mysteries: The Crimes of Dr. Watson and Batman: Murder at Wayne Manor (July 2008). He is also under exclusive contract with Marvel Comics and is currently penning the new ongoing Cable series and will be taking over Immortal Iron Fist this July with more comic book projects on the way…

PLOT SUMMARY: For media relations director Jamie Debroux, what begins as a Saturday managers’ meeting takes an interesting turn when the head of the company announces that Murphy, Knox & Associates is the front company for a covert intelligence agency. One that the higher-ups want shut down and swept under the rug. Which means everyone at the meeting has to die.

Before the boss can even finish making the announcement, bullets have started flying and poison gas starts spraying. Some of the employees don’t like the new direction the company is taking. Some employees have secretly been working for another Company all along. And one particularly enterprising employee wants to turn this crisis into any opportunity for promotion. But Jamie Debroux, aware for the first time of the true nature of his employer, just wants to call it a day and head home to his wife and newborn son. All he has to do is survive an especially rough day at the office…

CLASSIFICATION: Blending together noir, espionage, and dark office humor, “Severance Package” is like Alias meets The Office meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith as imagined by Quentin Tarantino. Also possesses the accessibility and lightning-quick pacing of a Dean Koontz thriller.

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 265 pages divided over twelve chapters, which are preceded by office/business-related quotes. Narration is in the third-person via several different point-of-views including the boss David Murphy, the seven employees that David has been ordered to terminate, a private guard, an agent in Scotland, etc. “Severance Package” is self-contained, but a few questions are left unanswered and readers will be hoping for a sequel ;) Interspersed throughout the novel are eight stark black-and-white illustrations by comic book artist
Dennis Calero (X-Factor, Legion of Super-Heroes) that vividly portrays the book’s noirish vibe, as well as a ‘list’ that continuously gets updated as people are terminated :)

May 27, 2008 marks the North American/UK Trade Paperback publication of “Severance Package” via
St. Martin’s Minotaur. The eye-catching cover artwork is provided by Tom Coker.

ANALYSIS:Severance Package” is my first Duane Swierczynski novel. Before that, I had only heard of the author in passing through his comic book work, specifically on Moon Knight which I’m a huge fan of. Coincidentally, the current Moon Knight series was relaunched in 2006 with pulp fiction writer Charlie Huston at the helm, an author that I was reminded of when reading “Severance Package”. I was also reminded of Tarantino, but the person that I was most reminded of when reading Duane’s new book, was Dean Koontz. Koontz is a master of the contemporary breakneck thriller and Swierczynski shares many of the same qualities including silky-smooth prose, crackling dialogue, witty humor, and an eye for building adrenaline-inducing suspense. They also share an ability to write memorable characters with distinctive personalities and quirky traits like David Murphy’s sex/eating binges, the security guard’s extreme fear of being assaulted, and Nichole Wise’s workmanlike willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Granted, the violence and language is a little more hardcore in “Severance Package” than in a Dean Koontz novel, you won’t find any horror / supernatural elements in Duane’s new book, and action sometimes overshadows suspense, but the resemblance is there :) In other words, like a Dean Koontz novel, “Severance Package” is a thrill ride, engrossing, and massively appealing, and if this is the kind of fiction that one can expect from a Duane Swierczynski novel, then I think I’ve found myself a new favorite author :)

CONCLUSION: What’s there not to love about “Severance Package”? The concept is wild and insanely entertaining involving everything from sarin gas, poisoned champagne, and tracheotomies to Kevlar-reinforced pantyhose, popcorn tins, and assassinating your co-workers as part of a job interview ;) The plot is unpredictable; the female characters are sassy, sexy and badass; and the novel boasts the perfect mix of intrigue, comedy and hard-boiled action that grabs you by the throat while kicking in your teeth. Basically, “Severance Package” is tailor made for the big screen, and if the book doesn’t get made into a film, and soon, then somebody in Hollywood needs to get fired…


SQT said...

This totally sounds like a movie. And one I'd go see in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Robert, what's up!?

Nice review. I was eager to read your thoughts on this one. I finished reading THE BLOND last week and was really blown away simply for it's enjoyment level.

Can't wait for this one to hit the shelves tomorrow so i can snatch up a copy for myself.

Tell the family "rean said hi!" ;)

later dude

Chris, The Book Swede said...

Good review :) I'll have to get this as it sounds great. The publishers link, by the way, for me, isn't working! ;)

Hope you're having a good holiday (long) weekend if that is indeed what's happening in the US!

The Book Swede

Robert said...

Theresa, it definitely reads like a movie :)

Reanimated, all is good :) Let me know what you think of "Severance Package" when you get a chance to read it. I wasn't sure which Swierczynski book to read next, but I think I'll go with "The Blonde"!

Chris, which link wasn't working? I checked them out and they seem to working okay for me...

Anyway, it's a fun book and I'd definitely try and get a copy :)

Not much of a holiday, at least for us. Not only did Annie go into work today, but she worked Saturday & Sunday! So I figured I might as well work as well :)


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