Nerdy Recycling

I’m copyediting a couple of manuscripts right now (Brett Battles’s Becoming Quinn is in da house!) and sleeping showering blogging time is a little scarce. So, I’m posting a link to a piece I did at Criminal Elements about how casting can ruin police procedurals, and, with Shelf Awareness’s permission, my review of Duane Swierczynski’s Fun & Games that ran in its newsletter recently.

Enjoy! It’s almost Friday!


Duane Swierczynski’s Fun & Games, the first in a trilogy, is aptly titled because it blows your hair back and leaves you gasping for more. What the title doesn’t tell you is that the games being played are stone-cold deadly.

Charlie Hardie is a professional house-sitter whose latest assignment is a film composer’s lair in the Hollywood Hills. All he wants to do is spend the week on the couch drinking and watching DVDs. Instead he finds drugged-up actress Lane Madden hiding in the house, yammering about how “they” are out to get her. Her claims soon prove to be true, and Charlie unwillingly gets caught up in her life-or-death struggle, trying to vanquish the ruthless people who are determined to trap and kill them inside the house using various methods from the murderers’ manual. Along the way, Charlie discovers why the killers are targeting Lane, a reason almost as terrible as his own secrets.

Charlie is the most entertaining protagonist I’ve met in a long time. He’s a reluctant hero who fights back only because he’s angry, like a sleeping bear who’s been poked too many times with a stick. Once he’s on the warpath, though, there is no stopping him. And Lane is no stereotypical actress. She’s a resilient yet vulnerable character whose life hasn’t been made easier by her fame and beauty.

The pulp noirish story has more turns than the twisty L.A. canyon roads that provide its setting, and the pacing is as fast as a car careening down those same roads without brakes. Though Swierczynski lives in Philadelphia, he describes Los Angeles landmarks like a local. But his biggest gift to readers here is the creation of Charlie, a winning protagonist I’ll follow to Hell—Hell & Gone, that is, the next installment coming this October.

Nerd verdict: Explosively Fun & Deadly Games



  • Reply
    July 7, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Can’t wait! This is my next audiobook, right after I finish another wonderful session with The Last Detective. Great review, Elyse. Thanks.

  • Reply
    July 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I read it! YAY!! According to my wife, I haven’t said “OMG!”, “DAMN!” and “WTF?!?” out loud that many times while reading a book. Good stuff!

    On a side note: Nothing wrong with recycling!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    July 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    All the best with eventually managing a shower and sleep, PCN! I’m sure Mr Battles will appreciate your personal sacrifices on his behalf. Fun & Games sounds like something I’ll enjoy. Thanks for the review {and top notch content like yours should definitely be recycled}.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I am so jealous! I need books right now! Why, oh why did I not go Kindle? I am reading my last book very slowly as I still have over a week here and many hours of plane time ahead of me. Sleeping, showering and internet time are scarce for me too, haha! However, I did see elephants, wildebeests and zebra from my tent this morning. The Hadzabe people have given me a new name, Kwaeleako, which means funny one. Perhaps because I only managed to hit a tree with my arrows? I miss chatting with all of you. Returning to Olasiti tomorrow to spend more time with the children and to price building materials for roof for the Orphan Center. Kwaheri

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    July 9, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    le0—I guarantee you’ll love FUN & GAMES.

    EIREGO—I was like that while reading, too! And then Mr. PCN read it and he was the same.

    Shell—Thanks for the kind words about my recycling. My justification is that I’m being green but I’m not really saving any trees here, am I?

    Paulette—Oh my gosh, hello to you in Tanzania! I’m honored that you used some of your limited Internet access to come here and leave a comment! I hope you find something great to read on the flight back and I can’t wait to hear about your experience.

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