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Author: Duane Swierczynski

Title: Fun & Games

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Paperback Original: 283 pages

ISBN: 978-1-444-70756-4

Price: £6.99

Publication Date: 23/06/2011

After reading Fun & Games I want to be a house sitter! For this is the job of its central protagonist, ex-cop Charlie Hardie. He gets paid – yes, paid – to fly around the US and live in plush houses whilst the owners are away. So all he has to do is lie in front of the television, watching old films and getting drunk [well he is an ex-cop and this is crime fiction, so a dose of alcoholism is somewhat of a pre-requisite!].

So when he discovers a filthy, terrified, and apparently coked-up actress, Lane Madden, in his latest ‘job’ – an isolated house in the Hollywood Hills – it is the last thing he wants, or expects. Worse, Lane claims that she is being hunted by a group of assassins. Charlie is initially dismissive, but it soon becomes apparent that the actress is telling the truth, and the two of them find themselves under siege from a lethal group of killers, who specialize in making deaths looking like accidents.

There is definitely more than a hint of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 about the proceedings, and Swierczynski [whose name almost made my computer’s spell-check go into meltdown!!] certainly has a very cinematic quality to his writing. And in Hardie, the book has the perfect accidental hero. For, despite the fact that he is running to seed and has a tragic back-story, he still has the resilient stubbornness to stand up to the forces ranged against him.

And, at only two hundred and eighty three pages, Fun & Games is a high-octane thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin – it is fun and there are a lot of games. It’s action-packed, with a cast of hard-boiled characters, and all extraneous matter has been stripped away to make this as fast and exciting read as it can possibly be.

If I have one slight gripe, it would be with the fact that the pace and compactness of the novel meant that Hardie and Lane are not explored that fully as characters. But, at the same time, there are enough hints and tidbits to suggest that Hardie has the potential to evolve in his next outing. And, ultimately, the pure pace and excitement of the book shines through and makes Fun & Games a highly enjoyable one-sitting read.

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