Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Fun & Games

Summary: The first of three explosive pulp thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation and Marvel Comics scribe Duane Swierczynski.

Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop still reeling from the revenge killing of his former partner's entire family, fears one thing above all else: that he'll suffer the same fate.

Languishing in self-imposed exile, Hardie has become a glorified house sitter. His latest gig comes replete with an illegally squatting B-movie actress who rants about hit men who specialize in making deaths look like accidents. Unfortunately, it's the real deal. Hardie finds himself squared off against a small army of the most lethal men in the world: The Accident People.

It's nothing personal-the girl just happens to be the next name on their list. For Hardie, though, it's intensely personal. He's not about to let more innocent people die. Not on his watch. -- Mulholland

Many of you know that I am making a concerted effort to read more mysteries -- hence, my new feature Mystery Mondays. At first, I thought I'd end up reading more cozies, but I've found that I'm also really enjoying some of Mulholland Book's releases. Case in point: FUN & GAMES by Duane Swierczynski. While FUN & GAMES is not my usual fare, I thought this book was wildly entertaining!

Where to even begin with this review? FUN & GAMES is not an easy book to describe. In fact, I'm not even sure that I've read a book like this... ever. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that this novel was most similar to Josh Bazell's BEAT THE REAPER (which I also happened to think was fabulous -- my review.) FUN & GAMES is probably best classified as a pulp thriller -- it's part mystery, part thriller, part suspense, and very entertaining. Since I don't read a lot of this genre (and I suspect that it is also true for many of my followers), I would definitely say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much of a page-turner this book was.

FUN & GAMES tells the story of Charlie Hardie, a down-on-his-luck ex-cop who is still reeling from the revenge killing of his partner and his family. When the story begins, Hardie can barely handle the guilt associated with the murders. He is working as a house sitter, drinking way too much, and desperately missing his family. When he meets up with a famous actress who swears that she is being chased by hit men, Hardie becomes involved in a chain of events that is more than he ever bargained for.

I think what impressed me most about FUN & GAMES is the author's writing style. Mr. Swierczynski has written several crime thrillers as well various Marvel Comics series, and it's evident to me that he has major skills for telling these types of stories. He managed to write a very suspenseful, action-packed book that also had a fantastic main character. I admit that I was caught off guard by how much I liked (and rooted for) Hardie. He was an unlikely hero -- surprisingly complex and damaged. And at times, I found him to be such a tragic figure. But despite all of that (or maybe because of it), I couldn't get enough of him.

I also loved how fast-paced FUN & GAMES was -- I read the book in just two sittings. The book was pretty much non-stop action and it was also full of twists and turns as well as lots of surprises. While I was expecting a thriller, I wasn't exactly expecting this novel to have so much humor. FUN & GAMES was crazy funny at times and I know I laughed out loud a number of times.

FUN & GAMES is the first book in a trilogy with Hardie as the main character. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I can't wait to read the next two books. The author did a great job of luring me -- he actually made me crazy about Hardie -- and then he ended the story with a huge cliffhanger. Had I not liked the book so much, I think I would have been mad at Mr. Swierczynski!

Even if you don't read a lot of crime thrillers, I encourage you to check out FUN & GAMES. It's a wild ride and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the story and the characters.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I loved Beat the Reaper, too, so I'm really looking forward to this book. Hopefully I can get to it soon.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I agree with Kathy - saying it is similar to Beat the Reaper is enough to persuade me to read this!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of this author before but this sounds like someone I need to read.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I love a good mystery... and a pulp thriller? Hmmmm..... interested.

Anonymous said...

I love the cover...totally campy. It's sort of neat to see the huge variety that can be encompassed in one genre like mystery. Fun!