Fun & Games
Duane Swierczynski
Mulholland Books 2011

Duane Swierczynski sure can write them. His quick, darkly comic, no nonsense style makes Fun & Games an enjoyable pulp thriller variation on the down on his luck hero saves damsel in distress. The most interesting variations in Fun & Games are who the bad guys are –their leader is a naked woman with great tits– and the hero and damsel hit, punch, stab, and kick each other almost as frequently as the bad guys try to off them. This is the first of three thrillers featuring ex-cop Charlie Hardie. I can’t wait for the next two.

Hardie is a washed up ex cop of sorts. He stumbled on a career of house sitting. This gets him a place to drink, watch movies, and live. His latest gig is a pretty cool house in the Hollywood Hills. Almost immediately after he moves in a cute B-movie actress whacks him on the head and then impales him with a mic stand.

The actress is Lane Madden and she tells Charlie a most incredible story about people out to kill her. They are The Accident People, a crew made up of Hollywood directors, writers, special effects experts and so on who create narratives that make someone s death look natural and then … execute … the script. The Accident People are smart, resourceful, and determined. They are also right outside the house and Hardie and Madden are inside with limited means. Both sides start to play a deadly cat and mouse game.

Fun & Games works. The set up is original, Dale Swierczynski is very adept at creating immediately recognizable characters, Charlie Hardie s somewhat mysterious cop past is slowly revealed and you want to know more, and Lane Madden is a pretty resourceful damsel in distress.

This being a thriller set in Hollywood featuring a Hollywood crew of hitmen there are a couple of plot developments from the Deus Ex Machina department but the author more than gets away with it.

Foremost though is Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski is a fast paced, well and not overly written, easy and pleasurable to read thriller.

Sort of SPOILER ALERT: This thriller sets up the next one.