I wasn't sure that anybody could or would write a novel quite as crazed as Downtown by Ed McBain but damned if Duane Swierczynski hasn't done it.
In Downtown the hapless protagonist endures an unending series of con jobs and con artists on a winry Christmas Eve. In The Blonde journalist Jack Eisley meets his own kind of con artist, the lovely Kelly White of the title, who doses Eisley with the McGuffin that sets everything in motion, including a government agent straight out of Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. All on a single night in Philadelphia.
Swierczynski gets better every time out and his handling of what amounts to screwball spy fiction is masterful. The story keeps you flipping the pages, the characters are believable and unique and the construction extraordinary. Swierczynski really understands how to set up, pace and pay off a scene. One more thing he shares with the late McBain.
The Blonde is a straight shot of pure pleasure. You'll like it, too.
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And with the recent trade paperback, you get a brief sequel The Redhead which is also quite fun. DS is up there with Victor Gischler and Sean Doolittle at the top of my gonzo-crime-must-read list. Try Secret Dead Men which is absolutely undescribable.
Absolutely agree, Ed. Duane is the real deal and he just keeps knocking them out of the park. Wait until you check out his next one SEVERANCE PACKAGE, which is even more of a rip-snorter. Satirical, action-packed, and a wonderfully new take on totally gonzo spy fiction.
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