Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Hell & Gone

Summary: The second of three high-energy thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation Duane Swierczynski.

Left for dead after an epic shootout that blew the lid off a billion-dollar conspiracy, ex-cop Charlie Hardie quickly realizes that when you're dealing with The Accident People, things can get worse. Drugged, bound and transported by strange operatives of unknown origin, Hardie awakens to find himself captive in a secret prison that houses the most dangerous criminals on earth.

And then things get really bad. Because this isn't just any prison. It's a Kafkaesque nightmare that comes springloaded with a brutal catch-22: Hardie's the warden. And any attempt to escape triggers a "death mechanism" that will kill everyone down here--including a group of innocent guards. Faced with an unworkable paradox, and knowing that his wife and son could be next on the Accident People's hit list, Hardie has only one choice: fight his way to the heart of this hell hole and make a deal with the Devil himself. -- Mulholland Books

A few months ago, I read and enjoyed FUN & GAMES by Duane Swierczynski. It wasn't exactly a typical read for me, and I don't really want to say that it came as a surprise to me how much I liked it, but... it kind of did. FUN AND GAMES was very different and entirely unique, and it ended with quite the cliffhanger. I was hooked and couldn't wait for the next book.

Fortunately, it only took a few months until book two was released. It's called HELL & GONE, and it picks up right where FUN & GAMES left off. Charlie Hardy (a terrific character, by the way) has just had his life spared after a major shootout with some very nasty criminals. He has gained a reputation for being "unkillable," but he's in a major heap of hurt after the shooting. And to make matters worse, he has been kidnapped by a team of undercover operatives who take him to a secret underground prison where he's supposed to be the warden. Talk about a strange premise...

And that's only the first few chapters. The book really takes off from here with lots of surprises. I can honestly tell you that I've never read a book with more twists and turns than HELL & GONE. It was insane! I am not exaggerating a bit when I say that I had no idea who to trust or believe; and basically, I never knew where this book was going. It was a hilarious and exciting roller coaster ride, and I don't think I've ever read a book like this in my life! Mr. Swierczynski is definitely a creative guy and I admit that I'm kind of curious to meet him. I just want to ask, "How in the world do you come up with this stuff?"

Part of the appeal of HELL & GONE is the character of Charlie Hardy. I just adore him despite his flaws, and when I say "flaws," I mean "FLAWS." This dude has some major baggage and guilt issues. Charlie makes for a great main character and it helps that he has more lives than a cat. He is smart, determined, courageous, and loyal. And I absolutely love his sense of humor especially given the life or death situations he gets himself into.

HELL & GONE might work as a stand-alone -- I'm pretty sure that the author gives enough background for a new reader to appreciate the novel; however, do yourself a favor and read them in order. Since HELL & GONE is even more "out there" than FUN & GAMES, I think it's probably best to start the series in order and build up to this book. There is a book three on the horizon and based on how HELL & GONE left off, it's going to be even crazier than the first two books. I can't wait!

I know HELL & GONE (and FUN & GAMES for that matter) probably aren't typical books for most Booking Mama readers. However, trust me when I tell you to give these books a chance. They are so smart and fresh, and I think highly entertaining!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a 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.


Beth F said...

I already had Swierczynski on my list -- glad to know the second book holds up.

Serena said...

this sounds like a mystery series I would enjoy. Thanks for the review.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

These sound like fun. I am now reading a book in which I have no idea who to trust, and I love being taken along like that!

bermudaonion said...

I really liked Fun and Games and am really looking forward to this one!

carolsnotebook said...

By the end, I liked Fun and Games. I've got this one, but haven't read it yet. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Hardie next.