Home > 21st Century, American Literature, Beach and Public Transports Books, Book Club, Crime Fiction, Pulp, Science Fiction, Swierczynski Duane > 20 Books of Summer #2: Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski – Take a walk on a wild timeline

20 Books of Summer #2: Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski – Take a walk on a wild timeline

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski (2010) French title: Date limite. Translated by Sophie Aslanides

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski was our Book Club choice for June. I’ve read enough Swierczynskis now to be –almost—able to write his name without mixing the letters up or putting too many Ys. I’ve read The Blonde and the Charlie Hardie series, Fun and GamesHell and Gone and Point and Shoot.

All books mix Noir, thriller and SF with a huge dose of humor. Imagine the cocktail. I love it. For French readers, Swierczynski’s translator is Sophie Aslanides and it’s published by Rivages Noir. That’s enough for crime fiction lovers to pick the book, IMO.

So, what happens in Expiration Date?

We’re in Philadelphia. When the book opens, it’s present time. Journalist Mickey Wade has just been fired by his newspaper. Since he earned just enough to survive with his wages as a journalist, he’s now flat broke. He’s moving from his upscale neighborhood to a bad one, Frankford. That’s where he grew up and where he’s going to stay rent-free in his grandfather’s apartment while he’s at the hospital.

First night in the building, there’s a bodega downstairs but not a lot of neighbors. His friend Meghan helps him moving in and when she’s gone, Mickey feels tired, lonely, a bit desperate and headachy. He looks around Grand Pop Henry’s apartment and is intrigued by all the boxes he sees. But now is not the time to go through Pop’s stuff. He hunts down pills to fight his headache, finds what he thinks is Tylenol, pops two in his mouth, washes them out with some water and is thrown back to Frankford on February 22, 1972, his date of birth.

And I can’t tell you more about the plot without truly spoiling it. It sounds like Back to the Future but it’s by Swierczynski, so there must be murders, an investigation and bad guys. The plot is gripping and takes you for such a spin that sometimes you don’t know where you are or when. That’s the entertaining side of the book.

The more serious side is that, through these journeys into the past, Swierczynski takes us to Frankford street and shows us how it was a working-class neighborhood in the 1920s, moved to a middle-class one in the 1970s when Mickey was a kid to a run-down neighborhood. It’s now dangerous and the territory of gangs and drug dealers. The decline of industrial jobs in the US happened. It is the same implacable scenario that Roth describes for his hometown Newark. There is always some social commentary in good crime fiction.

A word about the American edition. Swierczynski writes for Marvel Comics and this one is published by Minautor Books. It includes black-and-white illustrations like in old fashioned books. It gives them a wonderful vintage feel.

Do I need to add that this is a great holiday read?

PS : A big thank you for this book to Guy, from His Futile Preoccupations.

  1. June 27, 2020 at 9:24 am

    SF/Crime/Noir. That sounds like a perfect combination – not one I’ve run into though, yes when you think about it, that’s the space many comics are in. If I’m home I write down the names of authors other bloggers recommend, now I just have to work out how to have the list with me when I go out buying (or borrowing) books.


    • June 28, 2020 at 8:50 am

      Swierczynski’s books are good to listen to while driving.

      I use GoodReads to keep track of books I hear about on other blogs. I’ve created a “Virtual TBR” shelf where I store them.


  2. Vishy
    June 28, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    Wonderful review, Emma! I want to read this now. Swierczynski looks like a wonderful author from what you have said. I don’t think I can spell his second name correctly ☺️ I can spell his first name though 😁 Which is your favourite Swierczynski? Which book would you recommend that a newbie start with?


    • June 28, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Vishy. I’d recommend The Blonde. If you like his style, go for the Charlie Hardie trilogy.


  3. June 30, 2020 at 3:59 am

    You’re welcome. Not his best but still good. He’s a unique writer

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 2, 2020 at 7:19 am

      That’s why I’d recommend to start with The Blonde.


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