Friday, August 7, 2020
"Fun & Games" by Duane Swierczynski (2011)
Swierczynski's latest novel is Fun & Games, and it's 100% Acme approved. This first volume in a trilogy introduces us to Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop-turned-housesitter whose latest job embroils him in a Hollywood assassination attempt by "The Accident People." Their latest target: Lane Madden, a B-list action actress who knows something she shouldn't. From its opening high-speed chase along the Decker Canyon Road, to the tense cat-and-mouse pursuit through the Hollywood Hills, to the epic, bloody finale, this book shows Swierczynski at his pulpy and imaginative best.
One of the book's main joys is its bad guys, The Accident People, who suggest the influence of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu by way of Ian Fleming's Dr. No, only funnier, and gorier. They are classic arch villains, armed with the technology of tomorrow and the ineptitude of sitcom spies. Swierczynski specializes in such mélanges of pop culture tendencies. A deep knowledge and appreciation of movies, literature, music, and true crime runs through all of his novels, and Fun & Games is no exception. The chapters are graced by cultural litanies, ranging from environmentalist Marc Reisner to critic Geoffrey O'Brien, and from Hickey & Boggs to Anchorman. In this way, Swierczynski emerges as one of the genre's leading post-modernists, playfully tweaking the history of crime fiction as he drives it into the future. 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.