Reading Uncategorized

52Books: Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Mickey Wade is an out of work journalist, formerly of the alt-weekly Philadelphia City Press, who is forced by economic times to move into his grandfather’s, who he wants little to do with, apartment in Frankfort, his old childhood neighborhood and now a seedier and dilapidated part of town. Mickey, named after Jagger, not the Mouse, literally only has dollars to his name and no prospects of work. The only bright spot in his life is Meghan, whom he likes but thinks only hangs around him because he’s a charity case.

It can’t get any worse? Right?

If you’ve ever read anything by Philly crime writer Duane Swierczynski, bad isn’t bad enough, there’s always room for worse. And fortunately for the reader Mickey hasn’t hit the bottom yet.

Expiration Date, Swierczynski’s latest, is in my opinion the writer’s best work in a limited bibliography. Unlike his prior books, Expiration Date focuses less on the gritty front story of crime and hard knocks, and slips the reader into an intriguing story where down and out Mickey Wade has a chance to change the worst event in his life. The murder of his father.

The catalyst for Expiration Date is a bottle of old, seemingly safe, Tylenol that Mickey finds in a locked bathroom cabinet. Locked for good reason. When he takes a handful he is transported back to the year he’s born. There are caveats, dangers, and Mickey must figure them out or he could die in the present. Through the discovery we learn more about Mickey and the perils of playing with time. Can Mickey change the one life altering event of his life and come out alive in the end?

Expiration Date, like Swierczynski’s previous books, is a thrill ride, racing all the way to the end. Yet somehow it slows down just enough to enjoy the little things.

Since I’m 20 books into my 52 Books and only 10 or so books behind on reading, this review and future one’s aren’t going to fall in order. I read Expiration Date in the second week of April, my 15th book of the year.

To learn more about Duane Swierczynski, check out his Secret Dead Blog. I hear he write some mean comics too.

Reading Uncategorized Writing

And life goes on …

Hey there. Who are you? Who am I?

Things have been a little crazy at the Casa de Phillips. I tore up my house. Took a week off work and was intent on improving the homestead. By the end of my reprise from work, I managed to get every bit of my office strewn across my house. I somehow went from straightening up and organizing my office to “man I really need to get rid of this wallpaper and it shouldn’t take more than a day.” A day? I place a curse on wallpaperers across the world. A pox on your families and future generations. Not really. I’d hate to have that kind of mojo power … unless it was beneficial to the world, and mostly to me. Anyway, I digress.

So I’ve had my home in practical ruins for a month. Not much getting done. I did manage to get the house in order, it’s just my office that is in ruins now, though the walls are paperless and Avalanche Blue. Some touch up left and then I can get the room together again. Let’s pray that happens this weekend.

Because of this ruin, I’ve not been motivated to do much work on the computer in the evenings. I work a little on the mess and then veg. Such is life.

It’s getting better though. I think.

I have been reading. Quite a lot of crime/noir fiction. Several Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski (man, I always have to hunt for the ‘c’ when typing his last name). This has had some influence on me. I’m going to shift priorities on projects and push Dimes For Dying featuring former Detective Charlie Novak to the top. Maybe revisiting Terminal later this year.

I’m going to publish Dimes For Dying free on my website after a couple three drafts, serialized over the course of about 20 weeks. Total length should be 60-70k words in length, broken down into fast paced segments posted three times a week. I may podcast it a week delayed, but really I’ll have to see how things roll. I really want to be in the business of writing and podcasting in my limited scope of experience is laborsome. So I have to give props to those who do serial podcasting.

Outside of Dimes For Dying, I will be writing several short stories in the same vein in the coming months and with luck they’ll appear in online zines and print publications. If not, it will be good practice.

I do have about 7 book reviews to write for 52Books, as it’s my only proof I’m actually staying on task. Those will pop up once the dust has settled at the home office.

Right now I’m reading I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. A quirky story about a 15 year old sociopath who fears he might become a serial killer.

General Uncategorized

52Books: Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski

It’s bad enough to work a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, but to be called in to a special meeting of key personnel on a Saturday really sucks. It can’t get much worse, but for Jamie DeBroux, a PR copy man, husband and new father, it’s going to be the worst day of his life.

Set in Philadelphia, Duane Swierczynski’s Severance Package hits you over the head in the first chapter by killing Paul Lewis, a non-essential character to events of the book, though essential to the underlying character of Molly Lewis. Then you are shuffled through the cast of characters who work for Murphy Knox & Associates, a front company for the hybrid intelligence agency CI-6. It’s a bit confusing as we are raced through the roster, but quickly comes together once the meeting convenes.

Murphy Knox & Associates is being liquidated and unfortunately in the world of CI-6 that means the employees, agents and civilians, are to be terminated.


Jamie DeBroux can’t believe it when David Murphy, their boss, announces that they must all die and there is no escape from the building. But when co-worker Stuart drinks the deadly mimosa at David’s suggestion, Jamie clearly understands this is no joke.

Swierczynski then proceeds to take our PR protagonist through an ultra violent ride with the help of his “office wife” Molly Lewis as his fellow co-workers are taken out one-by-one. With violence cranked up to 11, Jamie DeBroux’s only desire is to survive, escape the building and get back home with his wife and child.

Severance Package is hi-octane fiction that burns hot and fast. I could easily see it adapted into a movie by Guy Ritchie or the likes.

I enjoyed Duane Swierczynski‘s book well enough that I picked up The Blonde and pre-ordered Expiration Date.

Next up is J.C. Hutchins7th Son: Decent.

Reading Uncategorized

Level 26: The Digi-Novel

I just read a novel by J. C. Hutchins called PERSONAL EFFECTS: DARK ART. It was dubbed a transmedia novel and essentially not only came with bundled with physical clues, but clues to uncover through phone numbers and website references through out the book. It was a great read and a fascinating way to expand the experience of the story.

Another writer I follow who write crime fiction and comic books, Duane Swierczynski, is involved in something similar. LEVEL 26: DARK ORIGIN is the first of at least 3 books coming out over the next 3 years. These books, conceived by CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, canvas the serial killer known as Sweegle or the “Level 26 Killer” who leaves no forensic evidence. Pretty cool to take Zuiker’s bread and butter and turn it around.

Like PERSONAL EFFECTS: DARK ART, the series, dubbing itself a “digi-novel,” will have clues leading back to the website where you can register to see related material. Given the extensive trailer I’m going to guess they will be short webisodes reinacting scenes pertaining or within the book.

I enjoyed the transmedia experience of J. C. Hutchins’ book so I’m on board to check out the first volume of LEVEL 26 and see how the experience is broadened. I hope to be pleased.

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