Home > Book Review, Uncategorized > Book Review- Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Book Review- Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

A few years back I discovered a pretty cool crime novel called “The Wheelman.” It was a gritty caper novel full of interesting characters and blasts of dark humor. I missed “Secret Dead Man”  the debut novel by book’s writer, Duane Swierczynski,  so I had no idea he was interested and capable of crafting a more fantastic  but just as entertaining tale. I soon discovered that was the case though. Hints of science fiction showed up in “The Blonde” the  author’s excellent follow-up to the “Wheelman”  and then Swierczynski’s affinity and flair for the fantastic really started to show when he started writing books like “Cable” and “The Immortal Iron Fist” for Marvel Comics. Swierczynski’s last novel “Severance Package” was more of a crime/espionage type thriller story, but in his latest novel, “Expiration Date”, the author embraces both the strange and fantastic and the gritty and the grounded. The result is his best novel to date.

In “Expiration Date”, Mickey Wade, a recently unemployed journalist, is forced to move into his grandfather’s former apartment where he can live rent free. On his first night in the apartment Mickey heads to the medicine cabinet searching for aspirin to cure a headache. He finds some mysterious pills, takes one and is mysteriously transported back to the 1970s. How and why this happening is one of the big mysteries of the book, so I won’t spoil it, but I will say it involves the mysterious death of Mickey’s father in the 1970s.

In Mickey, Swierczynski gives readers an enjoyable every man protagonist. The first person narrative of the novel means you feel for his plight at the beginning of the novel, and you really sympathize with Mickey when he gets caught up in the strangeness of travelling to the past.  You also feel Mickey’s sense of anger and moral outrage when he uses the unique conditions of his time travel to foil some shocking crimes that took place in the past.

Another intriguing character in the novel is Mickey’s grandfather. Like Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness” you don’t spend much time with the grandfather but his presence looms large throughout  the entire story.  When you have a character like that he has to be incredibly compelling, and thanks to Swierczynski’s prose Mickey’s grandfather is.

For me though, The most enjoyable thing about “Expiration Date” was the tone and feel of the novel.  At one point in the narrative Mickey uses the unique abilities he gains from time travelling to rescue a kidnapped girl. It’s a powerful and creepy scene that seems like it should come from one of the superhero comics that Swierczynski writes. Instead the author plays up the scene in a haunting and surreal sort of way. It reminded me of the scene in M Night Shyamalan’s best (and in my opinion only good) movie “Unbreakable” where the main character tries to save a family from a vicious killer.

And speaking of mood, “Expiration Date” features a number of spot illustrations from comic book artist Lawrence Campbell, which enhance the book’s creepy and strange feel.  They also add to some of the sweetness of the book too; because ultimately “Expiration Date” is about family and how the choices you make affect your family’s future.

So “Expiration Date” is an immensely satisfying mystery and science fiction novel about one of the most mundane and important things in the world, family.   I highly recommend it.

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Categories: Book Review, Uncategorized
  1. judy
    April 26, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Can’t wait to read it. I really like this author. Usually don’t like scifi but you can’t put his books down once you start one.

  1. May 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm

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