FUN AND GAMES by Duane Swierczynski
“Said it was like someone pried off the lid and showed him how Hollywood really works.”
Review by Guy Savage Â (JUN 20, 2011)
Imagine a kick-ass action flick–say one starring that perennial crowd-pleaser, Bruce Willis, and then imagine the source material, and youâ€™d just about have an image of Duane Swierczynskiâ€™s latest book, Fun and Games. This is the first entry in the Charlie Hardie trilogy. Hell and Gone follows in October 2011, and the third novel, Point and Shoot is scheduled for publication in March 2012. Fun and Games delves into the old Hollywood story that studio fixers leap in to stabilize publicity nightmares. This legend has bounced around Hollywood for decades and still lingers over the deaths of notables such as Jean Harlowâ€™s husband, Paul Bern. Recently actor Randy Quaid and his wife fled to Canada and applied for refugee status on the grounds that they are in fear of their lives due to the â€śHollywood Star Whackers.â€ť They state that their claims are substantiated by the mysterious deaths of various Hollywood luminaries, including David Carradine.
In an art-follows-life sort of way â€¦ enter Fun and Gamesâ€¦.
The main character in Fun and Games is professional house sitter, Charlie Hardie. This is the latest gig for a man who hails from Philadelphia and has a shady past which includes a nebulous relationship with Philadelphia police and the FBI. But that was a few years back, and these days, Hardie is in danger of becoming a couch potato:
â€śYes, he sort of used to be something like a cop. But that had been three long years ago. A lot of drinking and poor eating and general sloth had atrophied his muscles. He was slower, larger. His liver wasnâ€™t talking to him anymore, and his heart gave him little friendly reminders every so often that he might want to get his ass up and move around a little. The mornings he felt good simply meant that heâ€™d passed out before he could have any more to drink.â€ť
House-sitting allows him to drift around the country while he lives out of a suitcase. Hardie likes to keep it simple, and he has a few rules for house-sitting: â€śHe didnâ€™t do plants, didnâ€™t do pets. He made sure people didnâ€™t steal shit.â€ť His dream gig is to stay in a house, alone, and watch old films. He has only one rule when it comes to film. He wonâ€™t watch anything made after he was born. Hardieâ€™s latest job is to watch the isolated Hollywood Hills home of Andrew Lowenbruck, a Hollywood music producer. Given that Lowenbruck has an extensive classic film library, it looks like a dream gig to Hardie, but he hadnâ€™t counted Them into the equationâ€¦.
When Hardie walks into Lowenbruckâ€™s home, he walks slap bang into a â€śnarrativeâ€ť about to be staged by The Accident People. This is a team of highly trained, and deadly equipped assassins who are about to snuff out bit part action flick actress, Lane Madden. The Accident People have tried and failed to kill Lane in a fake car accident, so when Hardie walks into the deadly scenario at Lowenbruckâ€™s home, he enters completely unprepared to meet a bruised, terrified, washed up-actress whoâ€™s fighting for her life against pissed-off, time-stressed assassins. Not good.
Fun and Games is breathless roller-coaster ride of non-stop action from cover-to-cover. There are simply no down times in the story, and Swierczynskiâ€™s comic book roots are evident in the plot and action sequencing. Hardie and Lane make a good team. Hardie is the laconic, practical sort who has walked away from a life he can no longer handle while Lane Madden is the bimbo bit player who discovers untapped reserves of courage and ingenuity. Itâ€™s no exaggeration to say that once I picked up this book, I was reluctant to put it down. Iâ€™ll hazard a guess that Swierczynski has a hit trilogy in his future.
Has Fun and Games been optioned for the film version yet? If not, Hollywood, what are you waiting for?
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 35 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Mulholland Books; Original edition (June 20, 2011)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Official blog for Duane Swierczynski|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Read our review of:|
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- The Wheel Man (2005)
- Severance Package (2008)
- The Blonde (2007)
- Expiration Date (2010)
Charlie Hardie trilogy: