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Killer Bosses, Books

By Staff | Jun 20, 2008

Think your job is going to kill you with stress? For the employees of Murphy, Knox & Associates, the stress isn’t just out to get them — their boss and fellow employees are — in Duane Swierczynski’s adrenaline-fueled “Severance Package.”

It’s a hot Saturday in August and seven key employees have been called in to a special meeting. They go through their daily grind of getting ready — fighting hangovers, carpooling, trying to find a parking spot and even going through the drive-thru. Jamie DeBroux is a new father and struggling through sleepless nights, Amy Felton has a crush on fellow employee Ethan Goins, who had a bit too much to drink last night. Roxanne Kurtwood is the recently promoted, hanging onto mentor Nichole Wise. Stuart McCrane is the geeky computer nerd who just wants to impress the boss. And Molly Lewis is the boss’ latest secretary and “office spouse” to Jame DeBroux.

But one of them is planning a little something extra for the meeting.

When they all arrive at the meeting, they find their boss, David Murphy, has laid out a spread of Pepperidge Farm cookies and the ingredients for mimosas. And David tells them something that is unbelievable to some — they are a cover for an intelligence community. They are being shutdown, permanently, and they have two options. Drink the poison mimosas or take a bullet to the head. Escape is not an option, as the elevators have been shut down and the fire towers are rigged with chemical bombs.

One of the members of staff takes the easy way out, and then chaos ensues as one of them shoots David in the head. The rest of the employees scramble to find a way off of their floor and to safety little realizing that one of them is a former special forces agent, one of them is an undercover CIA agent, and another is a counter agent, going to kill them all one by one in an attempt to “interview” with another intelligence network that is watching their every move.

A high-octane thriller, this book twists and turns and ups the ante with each chapter. Combining crime fiction with a splashy blockbuster film style and a bit of dark humor, the story is a twisted blend of “The Office” meets “Kill Bill.”

Dwierczynski has also written “The Wheel Man” and “The Blonde,” two books I’m going to have to check out now, and is the new writer for the comic book monthly series “Cable.”

 “Severance Package” is published by St. Martin’s Minotaur. It is $13.95 and 263 pages long.

Contact Amy at amendenhall@graffitiwv.com‘>amendenhall@graffitiwv.com