From: Duane Swierczynski (
Date: 01 Nov 2005

Hey, fellow Rara-Avians--

Coming out of lurkdom to respond to a few questions...

Duane Spurlock writes:

> I'm still not sure how a reviewer can describe a novel that
> "present[s] this world as an unforgiving, blood-soaked wasteland" as a
> "bittersweet slice of noir." Is that a back-handed compliment? For
> some reason, "bittersweet slice of noir" brings to mind some notion of
> a "cozy noir" novel -- and THE WHEEL MAN certainly doesn't strike me
> as that sort of novel (whatever the heck that might be).

I certainly didn't take it as a back-handed compliment, Duane. I think Anderson was having a little sport with the first description
("unforgiving, blood-soaked wasteland") but he goes on to note there is some humor and humanity along with the mayhem. Which absolutely thrilled me, because that's what I was going for.

Bill Crider writes:

> THE WHEELMAN is good reading, for sure. I posted a review on my blog a
> while back. If by some bizarre quirk of fate you missed it, it's here:

I'm a little late, but check your PayPal account for that $50, Bill.

Mark writes:

> Duane Spurlock noted today's Washington Post review of Duane
> Swierczynski's THE WHEEL MAN. Odd that the reviewer, Patrick Anderson,
> called it Duane's first novel, which overlooks his previous novel,
> Secret Dead Man (unless they were published out of sequence). Of
> course, SDM was not listed as a previous work or included in the
> author's bio of Wheel Man, either.

Mark, that was the *other* Duane Swierczynski...

I'm kidding, of course. You're absolutely right. SECRET DEAD MEN was my first novel. But you can't blame the reviewers; the press release for THE WHEELMAN calls it my crime fiction debut, and I only saw it long after it had been sent out.

I'm actually of two minds of this. WHEELMAN, while undeniably a second novel, is my first straight-away crime thriller. (SDM was a hybrid of mystery, horror and sci-fi.) And since they were written about six years apart, WHEELMAN did *feel* like a first novel. As Al Guthrie has said before about his own work, I feel like I had the opportunity to write two first novels.

That said, I'm still intensely proud of SDM, and would like to think that people who enjoy novel would dig the other.

(Speaking of Al, I think SDM would have still been languishing on my hard drive if he hadn't asked to see it. So we can all blame him.)

> By the way, Duane, was that tidbit in the bio true, about a receipt for
> your non-fiction book on bank jobs being found in a getaway car? How
> did you find out? And was your book good enough that the crook got
> away?

Absolutely. Here's a clip about his sentencing last year:

I found out a few weeks after the fact, when a friend e-mailed me the Associated Press clip with the subject line, "Did you see this!?" I thought it was a joke until I dig some Lexis-Nexis searching, and found out that it was true.

As for the book being a good instruction manual, let's put it this way: Buchanan had robbed something like 30 banks before he was caught. The day before he was caught, he bought my book, thereby ending his streak. At the very least, I think THIS HERE'S A STICK-UP served as a jinx...


Duane Swierczynski

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