Sunday, April 11, 2010

Books: Duane Swierczynski, C.J. Box

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski Mickey Wade is at the end of his rope. He's out of work, out of pocket and out of luck. Taking his grandfather's old apartment, he comes across a strange bottle of pills in the medicine cabinet. Thinking that they will cure his hangover, he takes a few, and is instantly transported back in time to 1972. But the Philadelphia of the early 1970's was just as dangerous as the one he lives in today, so Mickey must unravel the mystery of the grandfather he barely knows, the mysterious pills, and the way it ties together with his father's murder. Swierczynski has flirted with science fiction before, and this was a very successful amalgam of mystery, SF and comics (several illustrations are added throughout the book.) He describes the streets of Philadelphia very well, both the modern day city and that of 40 years ago are a big part of the narrative. The story rockets along very quickly and builds to a fast and exciting conclusion that should be enjoyable to both science fiction and mystery fans.

Nowhere to Run by C.J. Box Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is on horseback patrol in a remote mountainous section of the state when he comes across a lone man fishing in a secluded lake. Citing him for fishing without a license sets in motion a string of events he can scarcely imagine. Soon Pickett is in a fight for his life against two fugitive bothers hiding out in the remote wilderness. Barely escaping with his life, he is forced to return to the wilderness to try to learn the fate of a young woman who went missing years before and learn her connection to the brothers. This was a fast paced and well written story, with Box's descriptions of the rugged mountain territory both vivid and inspiring. What was particularly interesting about this story was his incorporation of some political issues that have been gripping the country like the role of government in society and individual liberty vs. law and order. Box doesn't take one side or the other, but presents a convincing story about divergent views about the nature of liberty and personal freedom.

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