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The Wheelman

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,592 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Meet Lennon, a mute Irish getaway driver who has fallen in with the wrong heist team on the wrong day at the wrong bank. Betrayed, his money stolen and his battered carcass left for dead, Lennon is on a one-way mission to find out who is responsible--and to get back his loot. But the robbery has sent a violent ripple effect through the streets of Philadelphia. And now a di ...more
Trade Paperback, 223 pages
Published November 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 2005)
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Caught Stealing by Charlie HustonAlready Dead by Charlie HustonL.A. Confidential by James EllroyGalveston by Nic PizzolattoThe Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski
New School of Noir
5th out of 149 books — 128 voters
The Godfather by Mario PuzoHeavy Duty People by Iain ParkeGangster by Lorenzo CarcaterraThe Sicilian by Mario PuzoLayer Cake by J.J. Connolly
Best Gangster Novels
9th out of 48 books — 73 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Mute getaway driver Patrick Lennon thought it was a routine bank job until the black van rammed them and everything went to hell. Amidst a maze of murder and double crosses, can Lennon recover the $650,000?

Wow. I'd been aware of this book for a couple years before I finally picked it up and now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long.

The Wheelman has more twists and double crosses packed within its slim 250-ish pages than any four other crime books on the racks. More twists than a snake trapped o

I've made a habit of downrating books that rely too heavily on violence, on explicit gore and on foul language. But I feel it would be disingenuous to claim I didn't enjoy the journey in the company of Pat Lennon - a getaway driver in a bank robbery gang. I read the book practically in one sitting, morning to mid-afternoon, compulsively turning the pages and rushing to find out what crazy twist of fate, what terrible doublecross will fall into the lap of the fortune challenged Irish born gangste
Yowza! What a ride!
This book has twists and turns and nasty sudden stops.
Look out for that windshield!
It's the kind of book where things go from bad to worse,
just when you think they can't possibly get any worse.
Impossible to put down? Yeah.
It's the kind of book that can lead a devoted mother to snarl at her youngest son,
"I don't care if the cat IS on fire! Can't you see Mommy is READING!!!"
James Thane
This fast-paced debut novel opens outside of a bank in Philadelphia where Lennon, an apparently mute Irishman, is waiting patiently for the rest of his team. Lennon is not a bank robber exactly, but for a share of the take, he drives bank robbers to and from the job.

This particular job has been carefully planned and Lennon knows his exit route down to the last inch. But at the last possible second, the heist goes sour and the proverbial excrement hits the fan. Lennon finds himself betrayed, lef
Jeffrey Keeten
I'm still trying to comb my hair back down and brush the grit out of my teeth after jumping in the passenger side with "the wheelman" Lennon. The plot snaps along at a breakneck pace setting I'm sure the world record for the most double dealing, double crosses in the history of literature. The prose is muscular, the dialogue is crisp, the plot is intriguing and all of this unfolds in 231 pages. A very impressive debut novel, I will definitely be picking up more books by Duane Swierczynski which ...more
The fiction debut of Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman borrows from his previous non-fiction endeavour about bank robbers and pre-empts his fast paced adrenaline rush style that would become his trademark. There's this guy, not quite Ryan Gosling, he drives getaway cars for bank robbers, he doesn't talk, he doesn't wave guns, he just drives. For 240 pages he is put through the physical and mental wringer in the aftermath of a Philadelphia heist gone south.

For a debut novel this is excellent work;
Lennon is an accomplished wheelman. Escaping by the skin of his teeth from a successful bank job, Lennon wants to avoid causing injury to any bystanders, but while leaving the bank in a hurry, a woman pushing a stroller walks in his path. Braking and wrestling with the wheel was out of the question. The risk of fishtailing was too great, and Lennon worried that he would broadside both the lady and the stroller. Steering clear out of the way was impossible. Immediately to the right of the woman a ...more
Man, this took me a while to finish. It certainly had nothing to do with the plot, the characters or the author’s pacing; I just picked the wrong times to read. Almost every time I picked this book up, I dozed off. What had made this experience so frustrating was that I really liked it and I would find myself getting angry and wondering if I was suffering from narcolepsy. Trust me, if you’re unable to find a story about a mute, Irish getaway driver at least a little interesting, there may be som ...more
Jason (RawBlurb)
Dear Mr Swierczynski:

I hate you for being such a good author. By hate, I mean envy, and by author I mean sheer awesome dude. So, to recap, I envy you for being a sheer awesome dude.

I read The Wheelman over a couple day span on the local transit system. It was less polished than your later novels such as Severance Package or The Blonde. It is weird to describe pulpy books as polished, but I am sure you are picking up what I am putting down.

I know it is your book and as such, you already know the
The Wheelman is a post modern black comic take on the classic caper gone wrong. Alongside Allan Guthrie and Charlie Huston here is another writer of no holds barred, punk rock neo-pulp. Duane Swierczynski. comes off more knowing than Guthrie with a fiercely modern sensibility. This book is all pure bravado storytelling with twists, complications, betrayals, endless new characters, death at every turn (what was the body count?), and lots of surprises (try to guess who makes it, you might be wrong ...more
4.5 stars..

The title caught my attention and then when Duane Swierczynski's name kept popping-up in most the places I surf the internet (Mainly over at where I'm a reviewer and his book Expiration Date was reviewed), I snatched it up as soon as the copyrights allowed for the USA Amazon Kindle publication.

I thought it was going to be a story about fast cars and robbing banks, but it's not that exactly. It's about a really good getaway driver, who has a long string of bad
Jennifer Wardrip
I had the privilege of reading Duane Swierczynski's THIS HERE'S A STICK-UP, his non-fiction tome of bank robbery facts and figures, a few years back when it first came out. In THE WHEELMAN, Mr. Swierczynski takes fact, mixes it up with a whole lot of fiction, and comes up with a thrilling crime debut that's well worth the read!

We first meet Lennon, a wheelman or get-away driver, waiting outside a Wachovia bank in Philadelphia as his two associates, Bling and Holden, get caught on their way out
Duane Swierczynski The Wheelman (2005)

A while back I read Duane Swierczynski’s non-fiction book on American bank robberies and robbers, This Here’s A Stick-Up (2002). So clearly he brings a certain authority to this novel centered around a bank robbery in Philadelphia. He isn’t shy about reminding us of his knowledge, and after awhile I found the intermittent chapters with quotes from real bank robbers a bit annoying. I get it, he’s qualified, but I suppose some will enjoy the quotes from Mach
The Wheelman is Stark (any Parker caper) meets Vachss (‘The Getaway Man’) in a fusion by which all heist novels should be measured henceforth. The protagonist, mute getaway drive Patrick Lennon is instantly likable showing compassion, loyalty and willingness to participate in violence only as a last resort. For a guy who claims to be nonviolent, a hell of a lot of people are caused a great deal of grief at the hands (or instruments wielded by said hands) of Lennon – all justified of course. The ...more
What a fun, fun book. This is the story of Lennon, an Irish born criminal getaway driver (Wheelman) who is unable to speak. He is involved in a robbery that, as often happens in books like this, goes horribly wrong. He finds himself chased by a variety of other criminals and corrupt police in Philadelphia. Madcappery ensues.

WHEELMAN is a lot of fun, very cinematic in its structure and impossible to put down. Highly recommended for heist novel fans.
Anirban Das
There is one perfect reason why I consider Agatha Christie as one of my favourite authors, because she was not pretentious and knew that what she wrote was crime fiction with the sole purpose of entertainment. Her books were not commentaries on racism, on human psychology or something
“much deeper than just a crime novel”. Then smartass writers started criticising Christie and started writing Crime fiction with a “Broader Perspective”, and managed to make the crime, twist and solution take a bac
Aug 15, 2013 Col rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008, s, 2013, re-read
Meet Lennon, a mute Irish getaway driver who has fallen in with the wrong heist team on the wrong day at the wrong bank. Betrayed, his money stolen and his battered carcass left for dead, Lennon is on a one-way mission to find out who is responsible--and to get back his loot. But the robbery has sent a violent ripple effect through the streets of Philadelphia. And now a dirty cop, the Russian and Italian mobs, the mayor's hired gun, and a keyboard player in a college rock ba
Michael Allan Scott
One Kickass Crime Novel

I had to put down one of Stephen King's long-winded tales, as well as a Dean Koontz self-absorbed Oddity because I didn't want to stop reading "The Wheelman." I'll get back to those guys later, but for now I'm going to hunt down the next Swierczynski crime novel—way more fun.

The Wheelman, Lennon crashes his way through the bank's front doors only to suffer a highly imaginative menagerie of violence, betrayal and pursuit. For the mute getaway man everything goes wrong all
Rob Kitchin
If I had some spare cash waiting for an investment opportunity I would have sought to buy the movie rights to The Wheelman within the first thirty pages of starting. The novel starts at a ferocious pace and never lets up, driven by snappy dialogue and taut action, with almost every scene containing a twist. In fact I can’t remember a story with so many twists and turns, with double, triple and more crosses, as every character seeks to get the better of the others in the hunt for the stolen money ...more
Though I loved the Charlie Hardy series (See my review on those) I thought this novel was way too fragmented and ultimately finished with a whimper. It's as if the author simply got tired of writing it and decided to wrap up the story as quickly as possible...literally. All characterization was thrown out the door, plot was thrown out the door, half the story line was left unfinished and the wrap up literally was the author telling us what happened? I mean, really! I do not recommend this book.
Raving review blurbs give me pause. "...kept me up all night," "a writer to watch," "...look out so and so..." and other boilerplate comments writers give others rarely pan out for me. However, with The Wheelman, I did read it in one day and it DID keep me up until midnight finishing it. What a hoot. Take a dash of Gun Monkeys (Victor Gischler), add a dose of Pest Control (Bill Fitzhugh) and shake on ice with the body count in the movie, True Romance, and you've got one heck of an entertaining r ...more
This is a non stop grab you by the throat action packed little book. A mute wheel man gets double crossed on a bank job right off the bat and now the fun starts. Lets throw in a rotten retired cop, the Russian Mafia and the Italian Mafia and a whole cast of nefarious characters and shake well. I really cannot say enough good about this book. The only bad might have been that this reader wanted more. Definitely a good read worth your time.
Tim Niland
Lennon isn't a bank robber, he's the getaway car driver. So when the robbery goes pear-shaped and his crew is double crossed, he finds his battered and near-dead body being shoved into a drain pipe for disposal. Fighting his way out, Lennon has to find out who crossed him... the Russian mob? The Italians? Was it the crooked cop, or even his own mentor? This is a wild and ultra-violent pulp noir where the bullets and bodies fly fast and furious and the loot is on the line. Swierczynski keeps the ...more
Debbi Mack
Patrick Selway Lennon is a wheelman. He doesn't rob banks – he drives the getaway car. And he's about to help pull a bank job in Philadelphia that will be the worst mistake of his career.

Lennon's perfect plan for stashing the money and laying low until the heat's off goes awry when someone tries to horn in on the action. This sets a string of events in motion that pit the Russian Mob against the local Mafia, inflames the greed of a crooked ex-cop and brings a woman named Katie, waiting for Lenno
Jeff Nesbit
This was terrible.


No, really. I should preface this review by saying that I'm not a frequent reader of crime novels, and so perhaps some of the things that bothered me about the book are just tropes of the genre. If that's the case, I will continue to not be a frequent reader of crime novels.

Brief summary: A mute Irishman named Lennon is a professional wheelman: the guy what plans out escape routes for bank robberies. Things go horribly wrong within the first few pages of the book, and then t
The Wheelman is quick paced and fun, but the characters are not quite filled out enough for my preferences. It was difficult to really like or dislike any one character, which makes it difficult for me to really feel there is meat to the book. It was definitely fun to read, filled with criminal mischief, violence and intrigue, but the thrill ride of the pace wasn't enough without fleshing out the characters. It would be a good book to read on a long bus ride.
It's rare that I read a book where literally around each corner I think, "Holy shit, I did not see that coming." This book keeps up the surprises right up until the end, and still leaves you wondering a little. Fast, action-packed, but doesn't sacrifice characters to pace or throw in gimmicky plot twists - it's just sheer originality.
Aaron Martz
This piece of fluff is entertaining up to a point before its style detracts from its momentum. The problem I had with The Wheelman is the same problem I had with some of Kurt Vonnegut's books - the books themselves are short, but they contain about a hundred and thirty chapters, and the constant starting and stopping takes you right out of the story. Add to that Swierczynski's need to give each chapter a cute name. The plot is derivative of any one of the Parker books, and if that's not obvious ...more
Sparse noir full of double and triple crosses...
Michael Emond
Oh my, this was a disappointing book. It started off with all the excitement and promise the majority of the other reviewers had spoken of. And yes, this was supposed to be my Parker fix since I had finished reading all the Parker novels. The author makes no secret of his love of Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) who wrote the Parker novels since he has a character mention the author at one point in the story. My quick review is: what started off as a promising heist that goes wrong book ends ...more
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Pulp Fiction: August 2013 - The Wheelman 22 61 Oct 02, 2013 04:30PM  
  • The Deputy
  • Six Bad Things (Hank Thompson #2)
  • The Hunter (Parker, #1)
  • Bust (Max & Angela, #1)
  • Beautiful, Naked & Dead
  • Hardcase (Joe Kurtz, #1)
  • Queenpin
  • Money Shot (Hard Case Crime #40)
  • Getting Off (Hard Case Crime #101)
  • The Cold Spot
Duane Swierczynski is an American crime writer who has written a number of non-fiction books, novels and also writes for comic books.
More about Duane Swierczynski...
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