Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski 2011. Sadly, it’s not available in French, so it goes into the Translation Tragedy category.

Swiercynski_Fun_GamesFun and Games opens with an amazing high-speed chase in the Hollywood Hills on Decker Canyon Road. It’s steep, full of hairpin turns and dangerous. The actress Lane Madden is driving like a maniac, trying to escape whomever is following her and trying to push her into a car accident. Her moonlight drive is a lot less romantic than Jim Morrison’s song.

At the same moment, Charlie Hardie is on a red-eye from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where he’s expected to housesit the mansion of a famous composer. Hardie used to work for the cops in Philadelphia until a tragedy changed everything. He’s now living a wandering life, going from one house-sitting job to the other, trying to forget and go by. When he arrives on site, the house isn’t empty and Lane is inside, bruised and battered, hiding from Them, who attempted to kill her.

As it happens, Them are The Accident People, a secret society with connections in the right places and specialized in rewriting events or erasing unwanted witnesses from embarrassing scenes. They are discreet, efficient and provoke death that look accidental and fitting with the victim’s background. With Lane Madden, they aimed at a timely OD in her car. Only Lane fought back, using what she learned when she trained for stunts in the action movies she’d been doing.

For Hardie, this is a bad case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. He should get away from this house and literally run to the hills. But he encounters the brain of this operation and realizes she knows about his past. And suddenly, things become very personal. Why do they want Lane dead? How did they manage to get info on him so quickly?

I won’t say more about the plot to avoid spoilers. This is a fast-paced pulp novel, one you don’t want to put down and it would make a fantastic movie. The characters are well drawn and their past is revealed slowly through the book. Don’t read the summary on Goodreads, it gives away too much of Hardie’s background. The man is a survivor and his survival instinct is out of the ordinary.

Swierczynski has a punchy style that highlights the twists and turns of the plot. See a sample here:

When life finally stops kicking you in the teeth, you don’t whine and count the gaps. You see the fucking dentist and move on.

There aren’t any breathing time as we follow Hardie from one attack to the other. Swierczynski seems to have an bottomless well of creativity in ways to eliminate people. And it works.

Fun & Games is the first volume of the Hardie trilogy that continues with Hell & Gone and Point & Shoot, reviewed by Guy. You can find his review of Fun and Games here and I recommend it, he’s a lot better than me at writing about pulp fiction.

For French readers who’d be interested in Swierczynski, try The Blonde, it’s excellent.

This is another read from my #TBR20 project. Now I want to read the two other volumes. So, after the #TBR20 is over, I already plan to buy the two other books of the Markaris trilogy and the two other Swierczynskis. Hmm. I’m afraid the #TBR20 gig will be followed by a book buying spree, followed by another #TBR20. When will that stop? 🙂

  1. August 2, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    It never ends.. so glad you liked this one, Emma and I was about to ask if you were going to go for the other two volumes.
    I read a very different book by this author earlier this year called Canary. At first I thought it was another standard crime yarn without Swierczynski’s usual magic, but just as I thought that, on came the unexpected (well there was a seed or two thrown in) and Swierczynski gives us a fantastic heroine. I asked the author via Goodreads if he intended a sequel (Canary SCREAMS sequel) and he said that he wanted the story to sit for a while but plans to revisit in a few years down the road. Fantastic news IMO.


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      This is good entertaining stuff. I like to have a few of those on the shelves.
      It’s nice to know he renews himself and doesn’t stay stuck in a type of novels.


      • August 4, 2015 at 2:39 am

        Yes sometimes I’m just in the mood for this sort of read


  2. August 3, 2015 at 9:21 am

    This book really sounds like lot of fun,

    The issue that you are having with your TBR is a classic one. Read a book, it leads you to want to read another book, that is not on your TBR, thus your TBR either gets neglected or it grows. There is no real solution 🙂


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      It’s a fun read and I really like his style.

      This issue gets bigger when you read literate writers that refer to others and make you curious. Like Philip Roth. I’ll try to have less book enter the TBR than books being read. Otherwise my TBR will never decrease.


  3. August 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Sounds excellent, Emma. And Guy liked it too, that’s good to know.

    It’s interesting you should mention its suitability as the basis for a movie because something about the premise does remind me of a fairly recent film with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt: The Adjustment Bureau. Have you seen it? Different stories, similar territory (I think).

    As for the #TBR20, I ended up going a bit wild at the end of my first round. All my good intentions of restricting myself to five or six new books went straight out of the window…


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      I haven’t seen that film. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d go and see Fun & Games if I didn’t know the book first. I usually skip action movies.

      You’re not encouraging, about the TBR20? (Or you’re giving me early absolution for the moment I’ll break my self-imposed rule). I have a few months before I’m allowed to buy anything anyway.


      • August 4, 2015 at 9:32 am

        Oh, I think the TBR20/PAL20 idea is great. (I’m currently in the midst of a second round after a couple of false starts in May.) I just found it hard to avoid temptation once I started browsing in bookshops again! 🙂


        • August 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

          I think it’s a great idea too. It’s like diets. Once you’ve announced to everyone you’re on a diet, you have a better chance to stick to it. 🙂


  4. N@ncy
    August 3, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Just curious…I haven’ t read too many CF in French. How does Swierczynski compare to ones I am familiar with: Lemaitre and Vargas, Marpeau,Thilliez? (..or is he completely different?
    Thanks for the book suggestions The Blonde.


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Swierczynski is American. The translation tragedy is for French readers: it’s not available in French.
      I’ve never read Lemaitre and Thilliez.

      I’ve read Vargas and Marpeau and he’s nothing like them. He’s more like a Quentin Tarantino movie.


  5. August 3, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    That IS a tough-as-nails quote! Wow!


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Hardie is tough-as-nails and Swierczynski’s prose serves him well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. August 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I have nothing to say about the book, really, though a high speed chase in the Hollywood Hills would be an appealing conceit in pretty much any L.A. novel, but just wanted to applaud your recognition of the endlessly, deliciously malicious cycle underlying the #TBR20 idea. So what are the 20 books you’ve been waiting to buy for the next time around?


    • August 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      My virtual TBR on Goodreads grows almost every time Jacqui publishes a review. Add Guy & Max into the mix and my own discoveries or wishes and it’s out-of-hand. I need to decrease the pile, though.

      I never lack reading suggestions for my book club, that’s a positive way of seeing it!


  7. August 21, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I am very tempted by this, but I was thinking today about what my next #tbr20 might be and I already have ten books to buy to put on it, so as you say it can be rather a vicious circle. What’s PAL20?

    I’ve read some of Swierczynski’s comics work – Ex-Con is pretty decent if anyone is curious:


    • August 21, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      You’d like this, Max. It could go on the pile of books you keep around for when you need something to unwind.
      My next TBR20 will be 10 I already own / 10 new ones, I think. I also need a way to read what I buy quicker.

      PAL means Pile A Lire. It’s what French book bloggers use to say TBR.


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