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The Wheelman Paperback – November 14, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The man who wrote the book on robbing banks--This Here's a Stick-Up: The Big Bad Book of American Bank Robbery (2002)--here indulges his fascination from a fictional angle. Lennon, the untalkative Irish hero, doesn't technically rob banks, but he does drive the getaway car for guys who do. Though he is a consummate pro, the job is unpredictable by nature, and when we meet him--waiting outside a Wachovia bank in Philadelphia--he is about to find out exactly how unpredictable. The heist goes horrifically wrong, and in the adrenaline-charged pages that follow, Lennon is betrayed, beaten, and befuddled as he relentlessly tries to recover his loot and get out of Philly intact. Fast-moving and funny, The Wheel Man is a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in an R-rated amusement park. It's cartoonishly violent, but fans of pulp fiction won't bat an eyelash. The book sports a blurb by Ken Bruen (Vixen, 2005), which makes sense: despite their different milieus, fans of one writer should enjoy the other. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"If you are partial to past-paced thrillers that present this world as an unforgiving, blood-soaked wasteland, you should love Duane Swierczynski's first novel. Swierczynski's novel, like those of [Elmore] Leonard, offers an undertow of humor beneath the churning sea of man's inhumanity."-The Washington Post
"Swierczynski has an uncommon gift for the banal lunacy of criminal dialogue, a delightfully devious eye for character and a surprisingly well-developed narrative for a beginner." -The Chicago Tribune
“[A] promising debut… the gripping tale of a heist gone wrong.” -Robert Wade, San Diego Union-Tribune
“A great heist story in the rich tradition of Richard Stark's Parker novels and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing… keeps readers holding their breath to see what’s going to happen next. It is clearly the work of a maturing writer who is possessed of a keen style and abundant talent.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
“Adrenaline-charged… fast-moving and funny, The Wheelman is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in an R-rated amusement park.” —Booklist
“I cancelled a night out and stayed up all night reading. That’s how much I loved this book… at every turn, I was blindsided. Hilarious and bloody violent.” –Ken Bruen, author of the Shamus Award-winning The Guards
“Dark stuff… hilariously funny at the same time. Swierczynski has come up with his own twisted and thoroughly enjoyable genre. Bring on some more, sir.” -Rocky Mountain News
“Astonishing! Duane Swierczynski has written one of the great all-time heist novels and this guy’s just getting started.” -Jason Starr, Barry Award-winning author of Twisted City
“Oh, what style!”—Kirkus
“The plot twists of Richard Stark novel but the style of Ken Bruen’s non-series work. Very noir and highly recommended.” -Black Orchid Bookshop
“Duane Swierczynski is one of the best new things to happen to crime fiction in a long time.” -Victor Gischler, Edgar-nominated author of Suicide Squeeze

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312343787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312343781
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,284 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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This slim crime debut from Philadelphia City Paper editor Swierczynski, starts with an awesome Michael Mann-like set piece, proceeds at breakneck pace through some rollicking Quentin Tarantino-like pulp fiction turf, before petering out with a bit of a whimper in a rather unsatisfying ending. Having previously written a non-fiction book (This Here's a Stick-Up) about bank heists, Swierczynski is primed with plenty of info about how they go down. This shows in the opening portion of the story, where a pair of thieves and the titular getaway driver knock over a Wachovia in downtown Philadelphia. The writing is simple, crisp, and intensely cinematic, as their carefully laid plan hits a speed bump or two, but seemingly comes off.

But sudden reversals are the running theme of the book, and all does not go quite as expected. We next find the driver, Lennon, in a body bag, about to get tossed into a construction project pit, along with his fellow dead heisters. In a comical and bloody scene somewhat reminiscent of Elmore Leonard, he manages to free himself and get away, setting off a chain reaction of double and triple-crosses, as all manner of people start chasing after the missing money. A drunken ex-cop, remnants of the Italian mafia, the new Russian mafiya, dirty cops, half of a bad cover band, a fixer (like the Jon Voight character in Heat), an annoying college girl, Lennon's lady, and a mysterious man in black. All get into the dizzying mix, and at the center of it all Lennon, a mute Irishman who knows cars, books, and survival, and that's about all. (Rather oddly though, there are no car chases, and other than the very beginning, Lennon's driving expertise is left untapped.)

The story is built on fast pacing and pulling the rug out from under characters and the reader.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 29, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Wheelman is a great example of how the publishing industry feels about eBooks. Swierczynski has written a fantastic, roller-coaster crime novel that is actually deserving of it's blurbs, but the publisher MacMillan has completely ruined it with an inexcusably bad eBook edition.

The story itself is excellent. As a long-time fan of crime fiction, I have been more than anxious to pick up one of Swierczynski's books. I found The Wheelman to be very deserving of the hype ti has received. The author has crafted a story that contains all of the best elements of crime fiction - a likable anti-hero, a big score, and plot that twists and turns unlike anything I've read the past couple of years. Every time you think you have this book figured out, Swierczynski drives the plot off of another cliff and you soon realize you're not even halfway though it yet. Five Stars for the writing!

The eBook/Kindle version is a mess, though. It's obvious human eyes had never laid eyes on it before getting put up for sale. Whatever software was used to import/scan the book did an incredibly poor job. The insanely large number of errors makes the book nearly unreadable. For example, the first chapter is in all italics. Whatever was used to do the conversion could not distinguish the letter p from f so you end up with sentences like "Had he been a smoker, Lennon would have savored the last few fuffs before fressing the window button and and fliffing out the butt." This was the first paragraph of the book. Did ANYONE read this before selling it!? Other errors include dozens of misspellings, random letters and numbers appearing in the middle of words, and incorrect capitalization.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MJQ on October 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Everyone I know is getting a copy of Wheelman for the holidays. I picked up this book thinking it was going to be a quirky read because the protagonist is a mute getaway driver named Lennon, which sounds goofy at first. But instead I was treated to the most fun any media - book, tv show, movie, etc. - has provided me all 2005.

Sleepy, charismatic Philadelphia is the perfect backdrop for the non-stop action and violent twists and turns. It reads like a film, except it never stoops to the predictability and hokiness of Hollywood flicks. It's authentic and funny as hell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wayne C. Rogers on January 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been fortunate during the past few months to discover several excellent writers in the action/suspense/mystery genres, whose work I'd never read before (Don Winslow, Charlie Huston, and Brent Ghelfi), and I'm happy to announce that I'm now adding Duane Swierczynski to my list of must-read authors. These are writers who know how to tell a great story with strong, solid characters in them that you either love or hate, and enough surprises to keep you sitting on the edge of your La-Z-Boy recliner right up till the last page.

The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski is the novel that made me an instant fan of this relatively unknown author. Like Charlie Huston's "Hank Thompson" series, the lead character (Patrick Lennon) in this fast-paced novel quickly discovers just how bad a day can get when one simple mistake causes a bank heist to head south in a big way.

Lennon, an Irish Mick who came over to the States as a child, is a wheelman, who drives for crews that take down banks. He's probably the best wheelman in the business and never enters an unknown situation that he can't get out of. The clock starts ticking for Lennon in downtown Philadelphia at a Wachovia Bank the moment Holden and Bling find themselves trapped inside a bank's vestibule with $650,000.00 in stolen funds, and unable to get out before the police arrive. Lennon knows exactly what to do to save his cohorts and hammers the gas petal of the getaway car and then drives the rear end of it straight into the bank's entrance, shattering the glass door and enabling the two robbers to get out through a gap and into the car for the getaway. Then, as Lennon, floors the accelerator and shoots the car across the street to their escape route, a lady with a baby carriage magically appears in front of him.
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