Sunday, June 01, 2008


I was going to say that I don't think I've ever read a novel quite like this one but then I'd have to correct myself immediately. I KNOW I've never read a novel quite like this one.

Seven employees are gathered on the roof of a skyscraper for a boring Saturday morning meeting with their boss. Well, since this is Duane Swierczynski-land we should know better than to think it will actually BE boring. Because said boss informs them that they are all to be killed. And since the building is in lockdown, good luck.

What follows is an ingenious spin on high-concept Hollywood as the employees flee through the building to escape. Not counting on traps only a sinister secret government agency (the real force behind this erstwhile "business firm") could plant.

Swierczynski's skill in playing out his relentless story (I had to put the book down a few times to kind of let my mind rest for a few minutes) is masterful and dazzling. He plays can-you-top-this with himself throughout the books and always wins.

This novel is so much fun that it is easy to dismiss it as nothing but a confection. But before I read Severance I reread his previous novel The Blonde and I tell you that what Swierczynski does is so cunning and artful that it puts to shame many of the betsellers that claim to be thrillers. This one REALLY thrills.

I doubt many other writers will imitate Swierczynski's books because what he does is so difficult to pull off. But I will say that whether he's purloined or not, he is single-handedly overhauling the modern thriller with wit, style and extraordinary skill.

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