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The Wheelman Hardcover – September 22, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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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

Review

"Duane Swierczynski is one of the best new things to happen to crime fiction in a long time. A kick-ass writer with wicked cool skills and the instincts of a seasoned veteran. Keep your eyes on him. He's going places."
--Victor Gischler, Edgar-nominated author of Gun Monkeys

"I canceled 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, Shamus Award-winning author of The Guards

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312343779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312343774
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,695,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE 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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title caught my attention and then when Duane Swierczynski's name kept popping-up in most the places I surf the internet (Mainly over at [...] where I'm a reviewer and his book Expiration Date was reviewed), I snatched it up as soon as the copyrights allowed for the USA Amazon Kindle publication.

I thought it was going to be a story about fast cars and robbing banks, but it's not that exactly. It's about a really good getaway driver, who has a long string of bad luck after a very successful bank heist. That is if you can call bad luck befalling a professional criminal "bad".

The Wheelman is not for the soft-hearted. Some really bad things can and do happen to everyone in this book, to include an innocent bystander or two. Think of a Quentin Tarantino movie and if you like that sort of thing, which most likely you do if you're even considering this book, take a ride with The Wheelman.

Mr. Swiercznski is great at this! Each short chapter begins with a quote from a real-life crook and it's obvious he knows more about the criminal underworld than a law-abiding citizen should.

I sped through this book like I was burning rubber. It's an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that took me places that I'm not sure I should admit I enjoyed on the grounds that it could incriminate me.

In fact, Swiercznski suckered me in so much that The Wheelman wasn't enough. After finishing it, I had to have more. I read the excerpt for his next book, The Blonde, and immediately, purchased/uploaded it(Amazon Kindle, nuff said).

I almost feel like I could be a criminal suspect for just admitting that I'm now a Duane Swiercyznski fan through and through.
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