When I pick up a Duane Swierczynski novel I expect certain things. Humor, an insane pace, a high body count, and an inventive spin on classic genre tropes. With novels like The Wheelman, The Blonde and Severance Package, Swierczynski has proved time and again that he’s one of the most entertaining and straight-up bugfuck writers in the pulp game today.
His latest, Fun and Games, is just as exciting as his previous work, but also features his greatest character creation to date in Charlie Hardie. Plus, you know, Fun and Games also has some great Hollywood shit going on in it as well, solidifying its place at the top of the Swierczy heap for me personally.
The novel starts with ex-cop and current drunk Charlie Hardie showing up for a house-sitting gig in Hollywood Hills only to find that movie star and infamous party girl Lane Madden has been squatting there. As she’s clearly on drugs, Hardie at first calls bullshit on her story about the “Accident People,” a damn-near untraceable contract killing organization, trying to, well, fucking kill her. But after the bodies start piling up, you better believe that Charlie loses his doubt toot-sweet.
Many of the reasons I dug Fun and Games so fucking much have to do with the Accident People and what you discover along the way about their methods, heirarchy, hiring process – everything about them absolutely captured my imagination. But as the teasing, gradual unveiling of what the Accident People are about is a good deal of the story’s fun, I will steer clear of spoiling that shit here and talk about shit that’s less…secretive. (Jesus, that segue sure shit the bed. I just gave up ¾ of the way through the sentence.)
Like I said up top, as per my higher than hell expectations, Fun and Games delivers at being funny, hyper-paced and full of fresh ideas, but it also has a great character in Charlie Hardie. The book is essentially a tale of redemption for our hero, a man burnt out and drunkenly coasting through life following his accidental in the slaughter of his ex-partner’s family three years ago. Now, with the opportunity to save another innocent in the form of Lane Madden, Charlie is finally coming out of his shell and being the badass he once was. The Nerd for one can’t wait to see what he’s up to in the next book in the series, Hell and Gone.
But you, dear reader, you’ve got catching up to do before you start daydreaming of that upcoming release. First you’ve gotta pick up Fun and Games and have your nuts stomped by Swierczynski’s insane imagination and storytelling chops, then you can join me in my desperate countdown to Halloween 2011. Speaking of that particular holiday, is it bad form to go as the same character two years in a row? My “Christopher Walken in Deer Hunter” costume was a hit last time, and all the ladies wanted to handle my…snub-nose…