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Home » Books & writing

Book Review: HELL & GONE by Duane Swierczynski

Submitted by on November 17, 2011 – 12:55 am 10 Comments

When I’m not blogging here, I’m A) goofing off, B) running with bears, or C) writing for Criminal Element and Shelf Awareness. If you’re not stalking me on the Internet, here are helpful links to recaps and commentary I did for CE of Whitechapel‘s season oneepisode one, two, and three (there are only three eps per season). It’s a dark British crime drama starring Rupert Penry-Jones (MI-5) and Phil Davis about detectives trying to catch a Jack the Ripper copycat. Season two just started last night on BBC America, with the detectives chasing killers emulating the Krays.

I’m also posting, with permission, my following review that ran on Shelf Awareness for Readers last Friday. If you haven’t started this series, now’s the time to jump in.

Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski

Many people use “hell” as a simile, but Duane Swierczynski uses it almost literally to describe the place where most of the action takes place in Hell & Gone, the second installment in the trilogy that started with Fun & Games. Charlie Hardie is kidnapped by the nefarious Accident People—killers who make their hits look like accidents—and sent deep underground to run a prison that supposedly holds the world’s most dangerous criminals. Life is hell in a place with no windows or sunlight, but if anyone tries to escape, everybody dies. Things turn topsy-turvy when one of the prisoners, a gorgeous woman, says she didn’t do anything wrong, that she was looking for Charlie when she was abducted and ended up there. The guards had warned Charlie about how she can mess with people’s heads, so who—and what—should he believe?

Like the previous book, the pace here is unrelenting. The story takes many bizarre turns, but Swierczynski is inventive enough to keep readers from guessing where it’s headed. Poor Charlie can never get a moment’s respite from the craziness around him, a situation whose purpose he still doesn’t understand, much less his role in it. It’s difficult to see “Unkillable Chuck” weakened by injuries he sustained during his first encounter with the Accident People and the mysterious medical procedures they inflict on him at the beginning of this novel. He does get to strike back in the end, though his actions don’t achieve all the desired results. It’s okay, because Point & Shoot is yet to come next March. And if the cliffhanger is an indication, the finale promises to be out of this world.

Nerd verdict: Hell for Charlie; fun for readers

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  • Rodney North says:

    I knew you lived a really fantastic, wild life – but RUNNING WITH BEARS?! That’s too cool.

  • le0pard13 says:

    This is everything you say it was, Elyse. If the first novel in the trilogy was a rollercoaster, this was a throat grabber. Duane really submerges the reader in a environment that is literally Hell. Can’t wait for the finale. Fine review. Thanks.

    p.s., the audiobook of this that I did was great, too.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Who reads the audiobook? Did you read and listen?

      Would you be available/interested in joining Operation Laptop, which is a coordinated movement to break into Duane’s home and steal his computer so we can read P&S without waiting until March?

  • EIREGO says:

    I’ve always pictured you as a running with Llamas type of girl.

    Been watching Whitechapel and am a fan of the show. Feeling very lucky I get the BBC.

    FUN AND GAMES was crazy fun. I haven’t picked up the new installment, but Duane Swierczynski is a writer I will follow into whatever hell he puts on the page.

  • Because of you, I downloaded Whitechapel and watched it at the Chicago airport last week coming home from a business trip. I jumped at one point through episode 1 and scared the you-know-what out of the people next to me. Such a good show! (Well, not for the people sitting next to me). Thanks for putting this on my radar, I love it! I will be watching the 3rd episode tomorrow night. Why are there only three?!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’m happy to share my love of good entertainment! I’m sure I jumped more than once during the first ep. It’s ridiculous how much I enjoy reading and watching really dark stuff when I’m such a scaredy cat. Let me know what you think of the finale.

      Not sure why there are only three episodes. British TV seasons are shorter than ours anyway but they usually have six to ten eps. SHERLOCK also has only three. Do you watch that?

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