Pulse: 60-Second Critic: Thriller: Severance Package

Severance Package
By Duane Swierczynski
(St. Martin’s Minotaur; $13.95)

I blame City Paper. Certainly nothing in his years here at Philly Mag could have prompted former CP editor Swierczynski to set his latest novel — a cheerily sanguineous tale of workplace mayhem — in an office on the 36th floor of “1919 Market Street.” (I mean, come on: We’re on the 36th floor of 1818 Market. Pure coincidence.) The head of Murphy, Knox & Associates gathers his employees to tell them two things: The branch is being terminated, and so are they. The staff, naturally, doesn’t take kindly to the company’s new direction — phones have been cut, elevators are halted, and fire doors are rigged with sarin gas. “Meeting from hell” doesn’t begin to describe what ­follows — let’s just say the guy whose fingers come to resemble “burst hot dogs” gets off easy. Wildly violent and way funny, the book’s a summer blockbuster waiting to be filmed. Grade: A-