From Publishers Weekly
At the start of this violent and intense noir and espionage hybrid from Swierczynski (The Blonde
), David Murphy, the CEO of a Philadelphia financial company, summons his seven staffers for an important Saturday meeting, where he informs them that the business is being shut down, and that unfortunately he has to kill them all. Every escape route from the 36th-floor office has been sealed off or rigged with lethal sarin gas. Suddenly, mousy Molly Lewis pulls out a gun and puts a slug in Murphy's head. The resulting chaos sets off a panicked scramble, as the reader gradually learns that the business is a front for a covert intelligence group called CI-6. Thousands of miles away in Scotland, two men monitor Molly Lewis, who's actually a highly trained Polish operative named Ania Kuczun, as she performs her own private audition, which involves the systematic elimination of her co-workers using a truly imaginative array of methods. This action fest moves swiftly to its darkly satisfying conclusion. (May)
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Swierczynski (The Blonde, 2006) writes a brand of thriller whose pacing forces us to reexamine our casual use of the word breakneck. (His books are sometimes literally breakneck, toofor the characters.) His usual mode is to take a Hollywood high-concept idea and a Hollywood-ish cast of characters, then hit the panic button so we can watch them scramble for safety. In Severance Package, some seeming office drones come to the office on Saturday for a special meetingonly to have their boss inform them that they're about to be terminated. Literally. The ensuing fight for survival recalls the now-old joke about Die Hard in a building: though there's some backstory about warring, top-secret agencies, this is essentially one long action scene that begs for the next Tarantino to direct. But if that sounds like faint praise, it isn't: there are both enough cliché killers and comedy to make us raise two thumbs up. If you want your thrillers to be, well, thrilling, pop a big bowl of cornyou won't leave your seat until the end. Graff, Keir
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