/ Mark Frauenfelder / 11 am Fri, Mar 15 2013
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  • Fun & Games: fast paced pulp thriller about an evil secret society of assassins in Los Angeles

    Fun & Games: fast paced pulp thriller about an evil secret society of assassins in Los Angeles

    Duane Swierczynski, a veteran comic book and TV writer, takes this over-the-top premise and turns it into a terrifically entertaining, white-knuckle roller-coaster-ride of narrow-escapes, double-crosses, and cat-and-mouse moves.

    On Monday I flew from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Before leaving, I went to the family room to select a book from the growing mountain of review copies I keep there. The previous book I pulled out, Jenga style, from the heap was A Single Shot, by Matthew F. Jones. It was a winner, so when I noticed that Duane Swierczynski's Fun & Games had the same publisher (Mulholland Books), I took that as a good sign and stuffed it in my carry-on bag. It turned out to be the right choice.

    The good guy: Charlie Hardie, a professional house sitter who used to work with the Philadelphia police force. Something went very wrong a few years ago, and now Charlie watches houses for rich people on extended stays. He passes the time by parking on the couch, watching old movies, and getting blotto.

    The femme fatale: Lane Madden, a B-movie actress with a reputation to match Lindsay Lohan's. When someone tries to kill her on the freeway, she escapes and ends up in a house that Hardie has been hired to watch. Now, both Madden and Hardie are the targets of…

    The bad guys: A sinister and highly-secret group of killers called "The Accident People" who are under the employ of the motion picture industry elite. Their job is to ensure that the ultra-rich remain ultra rich by getting rid of anyone who poses a threat to their profits, and to do so in a way that rules out foul play.

    Duane Swierczynski, a veteran comic book and TV writer, takes this over-the-top premise and turns it into a terrifically entertaining, white-knuckle roller-coaster-ride of narrow-escapes, double-crosses, and cat-and-mouse moves between Hardie and a terrifyingly psychopathic leader the Accident People unit assigned to rub out Madden.

    Truths are peeled away like layers of an onion. By the end of Fun & Games, we have some answers, but not all of them. It turns out that Fun & Games is the first novel of a trilogy, called The Charlie Hardie series. The second installment, Hell & Gone is out now, and the final novel, Point & Shoot, comes out April 30.

    Good news: Fun & Games in paperback is just $6 and the Kindle edition is on sale for a limited time for $2.99

    / / COMMENTS

    5

    1. I just read this two days ago myself. Fun stuff — I’ve enjoyed several of Swierczynski’s earlier books and will be getting the rest of these.

    2. The assassins sound like the “Hollywood star whackers” that Randy Quaid was talking about when he was trying to get asylum in Canada.

    3. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Pete Larkin, last fall. It included an interview with the author, where he revealed the next Charlie Hardie book will show Charlie as the warden of a secret prison where “The Accident People” hide their failures. Can’t wait.

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