Review by John McFetridge

You’re going to read a lot of reviews of The Blonde that say it’s an action-packed, fast-paced thrill ride, that it’s a real page turner, that it’s original, clever, stylish, and that Duane Swierczynski has topped The Wheelman. And they’ll be right.

But it’s actually a lot more than that.

The Blonde begins in an airport bar in Philadelphia where a woman tells Jack Eisley she poisoned his drink and she’ll give him the antidote in the morning as long as he stays within ten feet of her until then. Of course, she’s being hunted by relentless, ruthless bad guys. Of course, she’s smart and resourceful. Of course Jack doesn’t believe her.

It even seems like a simple thing – stay within ten feet of another human being in the big city. Hell, for most people the tough thing is to get more than ten feet away from other people.

And that’s what makes The Blonde so much more than a terrific action-packed thrill ride. If you can just slow down just a little while you’re reading (and that won’t be easy as there are no cliches and you never know what’s going to happen next and you really want to know) you’ll get a great story about how hard it is for people to get close to each other. Jack Eisley is in Philadelphia to meet with his soon-to-be ex-wife’s divorce lawyer. Their marriage is failing because, as she says, he was hardly ever home and when he was, he wasn’t ‘really there.’ The Blonde is estranged from her own family. The guy trying to kill her has lost the love of his life and is all alone – except for his ‘handler’ from a shady government department that’s itself only tenuously connected to anything official. The evil mad scientist is not just a derranged and greedy bad guy, he’s also so bad with people he has to blackmail women to date him. At the weird sex club (you’ll see) people only touch themselves. Hell, even the cabbies are obsessed with staying within the ‘flat rate’ zone near downtown Philly.

And the McGuffin, the thing the blonde and the mad scientist were working on was a kind of nanotechnology they called ‘Proximity.’

Try this. Google “nanotechnology” and “danger.” In the million hits you get, one will say: "Nanotechnology, when it reaches the advanced stage of molecular manufacturing, could trigger a rapidly escalating arms race that spins out of control and ends in devastating war, possibly threatening the survival of all humanity. This may become possible by 2020, or perhaps even sooner. There will also be the threat of a nano-built self-replicating system (popularly called grey goo) that could in theory consume large amounts of the biosphere."

In The Blonde the goo is red and flows out of people's heads.

And the irony is that in this overcrowded world the toughest thing is to find just one person to get close to.


John McFetridge is the author of DIRTY SWEET and the upcoming EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE. Until now he knew nothing about nanotechnology but now he's hiding under the bed. Thanks Duane.

John’s website is

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