Duane Swierczynski,
The Blonde
(St. Martin's Griffin, 2007)

Just suppose that government scientists were working on a secret project to create microscopic, self-replicating robots called nanobots that could ... yeah, nanobots, microscopic robots. Just let me finish. These nanobots can thrive in the human bloodstream and when a cute girl scientist gets infected she goes on the run ... well, why can't scientists be cute blondes? Are you sexist? Anyway, these nanobots can make the infected person's head explode ... I don't know how, exactly, it's just the way these nanobots work. She meets this guy in a bar at Philadelphia International Airport and poisons his drink. Kinda funny, the first line in the book is "I poisoned your drink." Why? Because she's promised him the antidote if he stays within 10 feet of her ... because if no one is within 10 feet of her, her head will explode. See? She's got the nanobots.

Meanwhile, there's this Homeland Security black ops agent named Kowalski ... Why can't black ops guys be Polish? Watch your step, my mom is Polish. Anyway, he's after the girl scientist and needs this dead guy's head ... What? Oh, he needs the head because, uh, I forgot. Oh, and did I mention this black ops guy has a vendetta against Cosa Nostra kingpins. He's murdering them one by one. ... Well, you see, it's because he had this girlfriend....

I liked this blistering-paced pulp novel, and you will too if you can keep tongue firmly planted in cheek. This is 100 percent calories, 0 percent nutrition. You shouldn't eat it every day, but once in a while is a treat.

I seem to be reading Duane's books backwards. I started with Severance Package, which is a better book than this one. I want to check out Wheelman, too. I used to live in Lancaster, Pa., and my ex-wife is from the Germantown neighborhood in Philly. Got to like the city ... but you have to not mind seeing razorwire everywhere.

If you liked this novel and haven't yet introduced yourself to Charlie Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy, starting with Caught Stealing, you owe it to yourself to take the plunge. Huston's plots move just as fast and are just as violent, but there's more furry animals.

Both these guys need Hollywood contracts, big time.

book review by
Dave Sturm

13 November 2010

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