Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Blonde" by Duane Swierczynski

It sounds like a joke gone bad: guy walks into a bar...and meets a beautiful blonde, who proceeds to inform him that she's poisoned his drink. Should he believe her or not? Is she worth the trouble? Is she crazy? Will he be paying for this in the morning?

Yeah, in spades, baby, in spades.

This is a fast-paced, white-knuckle kind of read, a pulse-pounding thrill ride, and any other jacket-worthy blurb you can think of. The author starts the book with that line, "I poisoned your drink" and that's it - you're hooked until 226 pages later. Our man in the bar is Jack Eisley, a news guy from Chicago, who has traveled to the city of brotherly love for a decidedly un-lovely reason - a meeting with his soon-t0-be-ex-wife's attorney. He's sucking down some liquid encouragement when he meets Kelly White, aka The Blonde. She's the one that delivers that infamous opening line; once these two start talking, it's non-stop chaos until the end.

Kelly is no bubble-headed bimbo, though. She's actually a scientist on the run; she was working on a top-secret project in Ireland when the you-know-what hit the fan. Yes, young Kelly was a do-gooder with stars in her eyes, until the wool was pulled away from them, that is. Now she's living on borrowed bodies, one at a time, trying to get to someone, anyone who will not only listen but believe her story of nanotechnology gone bad.

Woven into this is Mike Kowalski, a hitman for Homeland Security; you won't find him on the payroll, though. He's in the part of HS that no one talks about, and his newest assignment is to track down a scientist that has the same out-of-control nanobots in his system that have infected Kelly. He doesn't need to bring in the scientist, just his head. And yes, his quest is taking him to Philly and eventually to Jack and Kelly.

It's a wild book, a wild premise, but somehow, it all works. I really enjoyed the "oh my gawd, what's next?" feel of it, a bit different from the other fare I've been reading lately. I look forward to tracking down other works by Mr. Swierczynski. Check out "The Blonde" today!

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