Hell & Gone and Point & Shoot by Duane Swierczynski

Hell & Gone (2011) and Point & Shoot (2013) by Duane Swierczynski. Not available in French. (So far. So it goes in the Translation Tragedy category)

 What was that old saying? It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye? Hardie supposed the fun and games were over. Now it was something else.

Swierczynski_hell_gone

And something else it is.

I have read Hell & Gone and Point & Shoot by Duane Swierczynski almost one after the other. There are the two last books of the Charlie Hardie trilogy. The first one is Fun & Games and my billet about it is here.

In the first episode, poor Charlie Hardie happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and crosses path with a secret organization, The Accident People, who are specialized in killing people through what looks like an accident. Charlie Hardie is a tough guy. The Accident People are so impressed with his resilience and toughness that they decide they they want him to work for them. Hardie isn’t really on board with the idea so they don’t give him a choice. They kidnap him, drug him and ship him to in a high security prison somewhere. Soon, Hardie discovers he’s supposed to be the warden of highly dangerous criminals. And there’s a catch: if he tries to escape, it will trigger a death mechanism and everybody will die. And Charlie Hardie isn’t a killer. So a warden he becomes and he needs to manage a team of lethal guards. Hardie is a lone wolf. He used to work for the Philadelphia Police Department as a “consultant”, being a real cop wasn’t his thing. He worked closely with a police officer, Nate, and he was the one with the social skills in the duo. Hardie is not a leader, he’s a Pitbull who never gives up. Despite his desperate position, he still plans on escaping and doing whatever it takes to get out.

Hardie needed to gain their trust somehow, put them at ease. He couldn’t escape if his own staff was keeping a closer eye on him than the actual prisoners.

God help him…

He needed to hold a staff meeting.

This gives you a taste of Swierczynski’s brand of prose. Punchy, straight to the point and laced with tons of humor. The whole book is a fast paced adventure as Hardie discovers the ins and outs of the prison and the personality of the prisoners. It’s hard to know who to trust. There are new developments all the time and it’s a highly enjoyable ride.

In Point & Shoot, Hardie has been sent in orbit around the Earth. The Accident People again. This time he’s keeping something precious in a satellite. He’s trapped there for a year at least and he can observe his wife Kendra and kid through a weekly live feed. He must stay on duty for twelve months otherwise his wife and kid will have “an accident”. He can’t say he’s comfy in his in-orbit shoe box.

Ordinary life up here in space was a Black & Decker funhouse of pain.

Things change when his avatar lands on the satellite and makes them fall into the Pacific Ocean. How will they survive? Is this man trustworthy? Are Kendra and Charlie Junior in danger?

You’ll know more if you read the book. We learn more about the criminal organization that holds Hardie prisoner, why he’s so resilient despite all the beatings, drugging and other awful things that happen to his body. His mind is unreachable. He’s stubborn as hell and never gives up. He’s got a one track mind and protecting his wife and son is his only goal.

He’s an engaging character because his moral compass remains stable. He’s tough physically but also mentally. He remains human, not a superhero. It is through little observations that the reader sympathizes with Hardie’s predicament.

Sometimes all Hardie wanted in the world was the opportunity to stretch. A real stretch, where you can reach your hands to heaven and you can feel the vertebrae pop. Such a stretch was impossible in this claustrophobic tin can. And taking a leak? Back on Earth, guys were blessed with the ability to find a semi-hidden spot, unzip, and let it fly. Up here Hardie had t contort as he were doing yoga in a closet. If the vacuum seal wasn’t tight, then he’s enjoy the sensation of his own gravity-free piss droplets smacking into his face.

He’s the good guy put in impossible situations and he fights against the monsters.

Swierczynski_point_shootThese books are off the charts action movies. I wonder why nobody turned them into films. There’s so much material here. I love Swierczynski’s sense of humor, his style and his crazy ideas. He even gave the surname of his French translator to the French character in Hell & Gone. It’s an unusual surname, Aslanides, I knew she was her translator for France and I asked him if it was an allusion to her and it is.

I’m so sorry to report to French readers that this trilogy isn’t translated into French. It’s available in ebook and in English. Unfortunately, it means you won’t have the paper books with their gorgeous covers.

Many thanks again to Guy for pointing Duane Swierczynski in my direction. I will definitely read other books by him. Here are his reviews of Hell & Gone  and of Point & Shoot

 

  1. August 29, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I agree, the films are begging for adaptation. BTW I don’t know if you ever heard about this.
    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/01/quaid-201101
    I read about this just before I started the trilogy.

    Like

    • August 30, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      Never heard of it. Reality beats fiction but isn’t a match for Swierczynki’s sense of humour.

      Like

      • September 1, 2016 at 1:08 am

        True but I read that story right about the time I started the trilogy. Life imitates art…. or the other way around.

        Like

  2. August 30, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Ah, I recall your billet on the the first book as it called to mind a film I’d seen a few years earlier, The Adjustment Bureau. It’s all coming back to me now! The trilogy does sound fun, pacy and gripping with a strong central character. I think you might have sold me on these, Emma. An insightful write-up as ever.

    Like

    • August 30, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      It’s a highly enjoyable read. It’s nothing you’ve read before and such a pleasure.

      Like

  3. August 30, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    I’ve read part of one of Swierczynski’s comic book series, Bloodshot – pure action movie stuff, but full of marvelously crazy ideas. Let’s send the hero into space, why not? I love that.

    Like

    • August 31, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      I should track down his comic book series. He’s good, really. He has crazy ideas but he pulls it off. But they would be nothing without his sense of humour and his gift for punch lines.

      Like

  4. September 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    He always sounds fun, but I think I’d rather read a standalone than launch into a trilogy. Where do you plan to go next with him?

    Like

    • September 10, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      My next one will be Expiration Date. I also recommend The Blonde.

      Like

  1. November 29, 2016 at 1:13 am

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

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