Tuesday, July 19, 2011

FUN & GAMES - Duane Swierczski

FIRST LINE: "She discovered Decker Canyon Road by accident, not long after she moved to L.A.

Charlie Hardie is a housesitter. There is no excitement in his life beyond running out of cold beer in the refrigerator, and that's exactly the way he likes it. Charlie has had enough excitement in his past to last several life times and he enjoys the calm of babysitting homes for the wealthy.

However, Duane Swierczski writes crime novels, so Charlie Hardie has to come into contact with crime at some point. That point finds Hardie when he heads out to Los Angeles to cover a job. When he arrives, he finds a famous actress hiding out in the house he's supposed to be inhabiting for the next couple of weeks. The actress is hiding out from a concrete villain; she's hiding out from "them."

As Charlie learns the actress has not escaped the local mental institution and is not completely off her rocker, the fight to stay alive begins.

FUN & GAMES is total madcap and written any other way would not have been my bailiwick at all. But instead I laughed and fell in love with the characters. It was completely entertaining. So what made FUN & GAMES different? The depth of character was hugely instrumental. Madcap often translates into flat characters, but that wasn't the case in FUN & GAMES. Both Lane and Charlie deal with events in their pasts that haunt them and drive their choices in the present. Both characters acknowledge the absurdity of the situation they find themselves in and it's somehow fitting for Los Angeles.

Swierczski's dialogue is priceless. His sense of humor is varied. He doesn't simply use one style of humor. Sometimes it's absurd, sometimes dark, sometimes sarcastic, but his humor mimics his characters more so than himself.

The other factor that made FUN & GAMES different for me was the level of plot. It's an intricate and intelligent plot, not one where I felt as though I was being insulted.

I listened to FUN & GAMES on audio, read by Pete Larkin. Larkin did an incredible job with the dynamics of this novel. He varied the intensity appropriately, did a nice job bringing out the personalities of the various characters and seemed to grasp the humor at every level. I was especially impressed with his depiction of "Man." "Man" is a fascinating character and Larkin brought out her coolness, her determination, and her drive. Larkin also did a grade A job on Charlie in his various states of injury. Sometimes narrators can get carried away with the dramatics and it comes off as over the top. Larkin made the madcap sound realistic and believable.

FUN & GAMES is a perfect example of pairing the right book with the right narrator to result in a fabulous performance. FUN & GAMES also made for a great workout audiobook. The constant action kept me moving at a quick clip. The title doesn't lie. Enjoy a little FUN & GAMES for yourself this summer!

FUN & GAMES is available in trade paper (ISBN: 978-0316133289) from Mulholland Books and on audio from Hachette Audio (ISBN: 978-1611139303).


bermudaonion July 19, 2011 at 9:18 AM  

I've been wanting to read this ever since Booking Mama reviewed it. It sounds like my kind of book!

le0pard13 July 19, 2011 at 9:23 AM  

Pure fun! Great book and audiobook, Jen. I'm hoping publishers will take a look at Duane's previous books for future audio conversions. Thanks for the heads up, my friend.

Naomi Johnson July 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM  

I picked this up last week, but I still haven't read Expiration Date yet. So behind...

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