Fun & Games
By Duane Swierczynski
A TP 2011 release from Mulholland Books,
Accurately titled, this breathless thriller is a laugh a minute, a gunshot or an assault every other minute, and an unerring logic that ties the whole thing together as tight as can be and that will leave most readers smiling and satisfied.
Protagonist Charlie Hardie is an itinerant house sitter. You go away for a time but you want somebody to keep the castle from harm, you call Charlie. Turns out there are subterranean reasons why Charlie does this all over the country and you’ll learn about them in due time.
Charlie flies out to California to house sit for a client who is overseas. Seems simple enough, but by the time he gets to the house and discovers there are no keys waiting for him, things begin to deteriorate in a swift and alarming way. Interestingly, every character we meet in the early going seems to have a secret life, or at least some serious secret they need to conceal from the rest of the world. This profusion of secrets in the hands of a less skilled writer could easily be a disaster. Fortunately this author is up to the challenge.
This novel is a violation. It violates rules of good taste, of the genre and of good sense. It is not only funny, it is a fun read. It is illogical and preposterous and contains more than one or two coincidences that in other hand might cause a reader to abandon the novel, but by the time they crop up, most readers will be thoroughly hooked. This novel experience is enhanced by the apparent close collaboration between author, editor and designer so that the look of the pages in many instances helps highlight the point.