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Fun and Games (Charlie Hardie #1) Paperback – Bargain Price, June 20, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Charlie Hardie Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Duane Swierczynski is a much-needed breath of fresh air in the book world. Sure, he starts with established archetypes and classic story lines. But he makes them new and making them new makes them fun. This guy is a great storyteller. I never know what he is going to come up with or where he is going to take me. I just know I won't be complaining about a thing once I get there." (Michael Connelly )

"Insanely entertaining." (Josh Bazell, author of the New York Times bestseller Beat the Reaper )

"So bloody satisfying." (Booklist )

"Breathless action. So much fun to read-on the couch or on the run." (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review )

"Brilliant ... one hell of a roller coaster read. Mr. Swierczynski writes like Elmore Leonard on adrenaline and speed." (New York Journal of Books )

"With Fun & Games, Swierczynski has pushed his style to its farthest extreme yet, and from the looks of things, the rest of the trilogy is going to go even further; he has the chops pull it off like the perfect heist." (Los Angeles Review of Books )

"Swierczynski steps on the gas early in this pulse-pounding contemporary thriller and doesn't let up . . . an unforgettable climax . . . the sequel's appearance won't be too soon for many readers." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) )

"A load of high octane taught action. Readers who like their action fast, brutal, and smart, as well as fans of the Die Hard franchise, will be eagerly awaiting the next installment." (Library Journal )

"More exciting than whatever you're reading right now, this is Duane's breakout novel." (Ed Brubaker, Harvey- and Eisner-Award-winning author of Criminal and Incognito )

"A white-hot nuclear explosion." (Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Award-winning author of The Bottoms, Leather Maiden, and the Hap and Leonard series )

"Cool, suspenseful, tragic, and funny as hell, Fun and Games is Duane Swierczynski's best yet. I haven't had this much fun reading in a long time." (Sara Gran, author of Dope and Come Closer )

"An audacious, propulsive thrill ride that kidnapped me on page one and didn't look back." (Brian Azzarello, Harvey- and Eisner-Award-winning author of 100 Bullets and Loveless )

About the Author

Duane Swierczynski is the author of several crime thrillers and also writes the X-Men spinoff CABLE for Marvel Comics and IMMORTAL IRON FIST. His latest novels include EXPIRATION DATE; LEVEL 26, cowritten with CSI creator Anthony E. Zuicker; and SEVERANCE PACKAGE, which has been optioned by Lionsgate films. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and children.

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Product Details

  • Series: Charlie Hardie #1
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (June 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316133280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316133289
  • ASIN: B00969ZBNC
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,610,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael King on June 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pulp/noir sometimes has a tendency to become an oppressively dark read. Duane's novels have always had a great balance of fun and action to balance this out, and Fun & Games is no exception. This novel seems to be almost playful at times, yet still maintains an ominous tone that leads to moments of intense literary tension. I sat down to read a chapter and ended up reading though the entire night. So far this has quickly become my favorite novel of the year, and I anxiously look forward to the next two books in the series!
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Gotta admit that "Expiration Date" took me a long time to get through - though the payoff was great - but I charged through Fun and Games like there was no tomorrow. This is Swierczynski at his best. Relentless action. Non-stop adrenaline rush. And characters you care about, even if they are mostly despicable. I made the mistake of thinking the next book in the series was already available when I finished this one. Imagine how bummed I am to find out now that I have to wait until October! No doubt it'll be worth it though. Do yourself a favor. Grab this book, set aside a night or two, buckle your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride.
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Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski is the first in a trilogy of novels featuring Charlie Hardie as the protagonist, with the second book coming out in October and the third one in March of 2012. After reading the first book, you'll definitely want to get the other two when they hit the bookshelves. I know this from personal experience because reading Fun & Games was the most fun (no pun intended) I've had during the past year. It's nearly 300 pages in length, yet I read it in less than a week. This is now a record for me since I only average about a hundred pages a week on most novels I read. Some less and some a little more depending how busy I am. Now, before I go any further, let me also say that Duane Swierczynski is the author of The Wheelman, which is one the damn best crime novels I've ever read. It's right up there with Tom Piccirilli's The Cold Spot and The Coldest Mile.

Okay, what about Fun & Games? The story centers around ex-Philadelphia cop, Charlie Hardie, who was nearly killed while on the job. He soon retired from the force and became a professional house sitter, moving around the country and babysitting other people's homes while they are away. His new gig is in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles County. He's taking care of a house that's own by a movie soundtrack artist, who's away in Europe for a whole month.

When Charlie flies into LAX and discovers that his suitcase has been lost, it's only the beginning of a really bad day. Charlie then rents a car and drives it up to the Hollywood Hills where the house is located. He quickly finds out that the house keys aren't in the mailbox where they're supposed to be, so he has to climb the roof and make his way to the back, hoping to get in through the rear door.
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If you can get past the unlikely contrivances that set up the story, you'll be sucked into a character-driven thrill ride that will have you preordering the sequel as soon as you turn the last page.

FUN AND GAMES balances the quirky story with characters that seem real--paging Lindsay Lohan for the role of Lane--and sympathetic. The mystery about what sent Charlie fleeing from Philadelphia interests us but so does the question of who wants Lane dead and why.

A lot of the fun of the story--at least for people who actually live in Los Angeles--is the sense of authenticity. The plot plays out like a mash-up of John Ridley's EVERYBODY SMOKES IN HELL and Elmore Leonard's GET SHORTY. The characters have history and context and their lives are complicated. Sometimes this is tragic--as with Charlie--and sometimes it's hilarious, with the suburban dad who calls himself FACTBOY having to seclude himself in public bathrooms to stay in contact with his client--while his vacationing wife and children get antsy.

The client is an intriguing character herself. We know absolutely nothing about her but it's fascinating to watch her unravel as she has to invent more and more narratives to cover the scenarios that unfold when her plan goes FUBAR. We're not the only one horrified by her total lack of compassion--even second in command can't believe she's so cold-blooded.

Both Lane and Charlie are terrifically damaged people. The writer gives us their internal dialogue so that we are invested in their survival. It's funny that most of Lane's survival skills were learned while making various cheap action movies.

Charlie is almost ridiculously resilient but at the end, he's still standing.
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Swierczynski has become one of my favorite authors, but this novel is not one of my favorites. Excellent characters...snappy dialog...nonstop action...what more could you want? A believable main premise for one. Although I was entertained throughout the book, I couldn't stop thinking about how ridiculous the main premise was. It really detracted from my full enjoyment of the story. To better explain, I must divulge this key issue: **WARNING - SPOILER ALERT** The central theme in this story is that some huge clandestine group initiates 'murder-by-accident' contracts through its organization of wayward movie directors, actors, etc. who script the accidental deaths of problem celebrities and then proceed to actually stage the scripts to their fatal conclusions. The large group of both highly-regarded and young promising filmmakers willing and able to easily commit murder I found totally unbelievable. If you can swallow that central premise, you're home free!
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