Sometimes I need a good “roadrunner” movie. That’s what I call over-the-top, action adventure movies so filled with insane stunts and crazy situations, they resemble Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. Think Die Hard (actually, almost any movie starring Bruce Willis) A-Team, Lethal Weapon, Desperado. The characters take licking after licking, but keep ticking and ticking. Part of the fun of watching those movies is seeing how deviously twisted and nasty the writers and directors can get when it comes to abusing the characters. Who doesn’t love a scene with Bruce Willis in a semi-tractor trailer trying to outrun a Cruise missile?
Roadrunner movie-stories aren’t as easy to pull off in fiction. Duane Swierczynski does. The first of his novels that I read was Severance Package. A gift from DD1. I laughed, I winced, my jaw dropped. Swiercyznski shoots, stabs, defenestrates, and poisons. He throws characters down stairs, locks them in mortal combat, and burns them up. “Good Lord,” I said after I finished the book. “This writer is sick. Outrageous. I love it!” The next novel I picked up was The Wheelman. More violence, more twists, more turns, more sick stuff. Swierczynski went on my Must-buy list (or should I say, Dust-Worthy list, since I only bring print novels into my house if they’re by authors who are good enough to be worth the extra housekeeping).
I balk at buying full priced ebooks from the big publishers. When Fun and Games went on sale, I snatched it up for my Kindle (oh Amazon One-click to Buy button, you shall be the death of me!).
Oh yes, Fun and Games is definitely a roadrunner book. A house-sitter and an actress try to survive the unceasing attempts on their lives by a mysterious shadow organization that stages “accidents.” There are the requisite car crashes, poisonings, stabbings, falls off buildings and cliffs, gassing, burnings, shootings and even a few encounters with cacti. Much of the reason the books are so much fun to read is that Swiercznski knows how to create characters from the inside out. In lesser hands, the novels would be mere shoot-em-ups. I know the characters are doomed, but I root for them anyway. In Fun and Games the author pulled off a shocker. I won’t tell you what it is since it would spoil the fun. I’ll just say this novel is part of a trilogy. So now I have to read Hell and Gone to see what happens next. (and no, I will not pay ten bucks for a Kindle edition. Publishers, are you nuts? I’ll buy it in paperback)