Last week the Winnipeg Free Press ran a negative review of Swap:
Torontonian John McFetridge shook the manicured trees of Hogtown complacency with last year's gritty cops-and-bikers saga, Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere. But he seems to have lost his GPS in Swap (ECW Press, 240 pages, $25), a grimy sequel that seems designed only to set off another round of "oh-we-bad" titters among the overreaching Big Smoke glitterati.
The corps of ethnically hued cops is back, but this time they're little more than aw-shucks narrators on the sidelines of a greasy show that's all about the bad guys.
McFetridge strives for whorehouse/grow op-in-the-burbs shock value, but it all just seems like a low-rent Sopranos episode, full of suburban mob angst and endless reminiscing about gang warfare past.
An unrelieved dumpster-dive into Canada's criminal underclass, Swap is just too earnestly exploitive, a sleazy travelogue for dirtbags.
I think it's good to get some bad reviews. In this case it's tempered by the fact the reviewer also didn't like the new Dexter or the new Kathy Reich (full reviews here), but also I think I tried to write a book that didn't please everyone. If the book is going to be something that some people really like, it's also going to be something that some people really don't like.
Of course, that review is also tempered by a starred review in Canada's book magazine, Quill and Quire:
In Swap, John McFetridge gives readers an in-depth look into the world of organized crime in the form of outlaw biker gangs, and the difficulties law enforcement faces trying to quash them...The tension is palpable and the reader waits for the one spark that will ignite a bloody turf war...Swap’s dialogue displays much of [Elmore] Leonard’s sparkle, and the novel’s terse, staccato prose evokes [Ken] Bruen. But Swap is more than just the sum of its influences. It grabs you by the throat and squeezes until you agree to read just one page, just one more page.
You gotta take the bad with the good, right?