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Expiration Date Paperback – March 30, 2010

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Swierczynski (Severance Package, 2007) originally planned to write this beguiling, pulp-style mix of fantasy and mystery as a magazine serial, but when the New York Times Magazine bowed out of the fiction business, he turned it into a stand-alone novel. Mickey Wade, an unemployed journalist, moves into his grandfather’s apartment in the family’s old Philadelphia neighborhood and, after gobbling a few aspirin to fight a hangover, finds himself beamed back to the day of his birth in 1972. Turns out those weren’t your garden-variety aspirin but, rather, the pills a crackpot scientist had created as part of a government-funded plan to investigate out-of-body travel. Only, in Mickey’s case, he can only go back to the early 1970s. But there’s plenty to do there: if he can somehow divert the young boy who will eventually murder Mickey’s father, he can change his family’s history. Swierczynski cleverly melds the thriller and fantasy elements (especially the notion of nonlinear time), producing a thoroughly readable, suspenseful romp that evokes John D. MacDonald’s pulp classic The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. --Bill Ott


Duane Swierczynski continues to carve out his own unique literary presence in a fascinating fusion of mystery, suspense, and sophisticated dark fantasy fiction. Expiration Date is a skillful, fast-paced, rock'em, jolt'em, spook'em, leave-em-laughin' story with believable characters and a pedal to the floor narrative drive. Top of the line entertainment. (Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season)

Duane Swierczynski is one of the best thriller writers in America, and probably my favorite. I blazed through Expiration Date in one sitting and I loved it. (James Frey, New York Times bestselling author of Bright Shiny Morning and A Million Little Pieces)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312363400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312363406
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Duane Swierczynski is the author of several crime thrillers, including the Edgar-nominated and Anthony Award-winning Expiration Date, as well the Charlie Hardie series (Fun & Games, Hell & Gone, Point & Shoot), which has been nominated for Anthony, Shamus, Macavity and Barry awards and optioned for TV. He currently writes Birds of Prey for DC Comics, Godzilla and the forthcoming Judge Dredd for IDW Comics, Bloodshot for Valiant Comics, and has written about the Punisher, Cable, the Immortal Iron Fist, Werewolf By Night, Black Widow and Deadpool for Marvel Comics. Duane has also collaborated with CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker on a series of bestselling "digi-novel" thrillers which include Level 26: Dark Origins, Dark Prophecy and Dark Revelations. In a previous life, he worked as an editor and writer for Details, Men's Health and Philadelphia magazines, and was the editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia City Paper. He lives in Philly. You can say "yo" to him at or

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nemo on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you haven't heard of Duane Swierczynski, you're in for a treat. This guy's one of the best writers I've read in years.

It's not straight up pulp noir, no, it's better than that. Pulp noir with a sci-fi/fantasy twist. Expiration Date is the story of a down on his luck guy who happens upon a means of going back in time, and then happens upon his father's murderer. The story is one of the few time travel stories I've ever read that doesn't fall into a time travel plot hole.

You will find this book especially entertaining if you're from Philadelphia. The gritty detail brings some familiar locales to life.

Get it, read it, love it, and then check out his other books: The Blonde, The Wheelman, Severance Package, or Secret Dead Men.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Horsley on April 14, 2010
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I've been a huge fan of Swierczynski since reading SECRET DEAD MEN and THE BLONDE. He's a writer who gives you something new and surprising with every book. Things I especially loved about EXPIRATION DATE were the feeling of childhood nostalgia and the vivid sense of time and place. The artwork by 2000 AD and Marvel artist Laurence Campbell was an added joy!

The opening sentences are a great hook into this story:
"See that body sprawled on the hardwood floor, marinating in a pool of his own blood?
"That's me."
After getting that far, I couldn't put the book down. And my high expectations weren't disappointed with this original - and often touching - thriller about a down-on-his-luck journalist, Mickey Wade, who takes four Tylenol and travels back in time. Trapped in a wraithlike and disempowered state, Mickey must unravel a murder mystery from the past. Cue twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.

Another reviewer has compared Swierczynski to Charles Bukowski - a great way of describing his supremely readable prose, which combines human warmth with unpredictable quirkiness. I've been on a Swierczynski jag since I picked up THE BLONDE and I highly recommend this particular brand of awesome noir kool-aid. If you're already a fan, pick up EXPIRATION DATE for your next fix. And if you've not discovered him yet, just buy the bunch and treat yourself!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Dobie on May 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Mickey Wade loses his job as a journalist and moves into his grandfather's unoccupied apartment in a run down section of Philadelphia. He takes some pills that he thinks are Tylenol, but which end up transporting his spirit back into the 1970's. Once he figures out the connection with the pills, Mickey starts to make repeated trips into the past, and starts to learn more about his family history and the murder of his father. His spirit can only interact with the world in limited ways, but Mickey starts looking for a way to save his father.

This is a good story with a number of twists, but it never really pulled me in. The story never really built up much suspense, and most of the interesting revelations are crammed into the end of the book. I didn't care that much for the character of Mickey so I wasn't too concerned about what happened to him. Expiration Date is interesting for a slightly different look at time travel, but not a must-read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fan of Duane Swierczynski, I couldn't wait to read Expiration Date. Now that I have read it, I'd love to see the movie! It was engaging and just a good read. Hubby read it too, and says, "It's a fantastical romp," and "Unexpected and fun." More!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on May 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Expiration Date is a weird blend of science fiction and noir that would have struggled to find a home with New York publishers. I've read it and enjoyed it, but I'm tempted to call it a literary novel as well because the story does so much with characters and fate and an overall view of the writer's world.

Duane Swierczynski explains the books conceptual origins in the editorial matter in the book, and I found that to be pretty fascinating reading as well. In the beginning, the story was slated to be a magazine serial for the New York Times, which would have been awesome. Then they went and cut those pages and the author was left with an orphan that truly wasn't animal, mineral, or vegetable.

What Expiration Date is, bottom line, is an engrossing read that had me flipping through the Kindle "pages" pretty darn quick. I got caught up in Mickey Wade's story. I mean, the guy just got fired and basically had his family turn their backs on him. The only thing he's got going for him is his grandfather's old apartment, and the place is pretty much a dump.

Oh yeah, Mickey has one other thing going for him, too: his well-to-do girlfriend who sticks by him even when his prospects zero out. After they get him moved into his "new" apartment, they celebrate with a little drinking. The hangover the next morning leads Mickey to find some old aspirin in his grandfather's medicine cabinet.

Only it turns out that the "aspirin" isn't really aspirin. They're cutting-edge biochemical, out-of-body time travel pills. Or something like that. They aren't ever really given a name, and their origins are pretty much left unexplored. But the past gets explored pretty thoroughly.

See, Mickey has a dead dad, too.
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