First of all, this is not a stand-alone novel. You must read Fun and Games prior to reading Hell and Gone. Now, disclaimer claimed, YOU MUST READ FUN...moreFirst of all, this is not a stand-alone novel. You must read Fun and Games prior to reading Hell and Gone. Now, disclaimer claimed, YOU MUST READ FUN and GAMES!
Hell and Gone is a fabulous follow-up to the previous novel. We find out more about Charlie’s past here – how he met his wife and the things that led up to his leaving – and even hear a little more about Nate, his deceased partner. FBI Agent Deke Clark is also back, unrelentingly trying to get a bead on Charlie’s location; and in the worse category, Mann is back, with a few surprises of her own.
From page to page there was something new and exciting that kept me turning the pages long past my normal bedtime. Plot twists are the norm and Sweirczynski does them like no one else. He’s also made use of one of my favorite plot twists: Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys? For a while there, I wasn’t even sure Charlie Hardie, protagonist and everybody’s whipping boy, was still a good guy.
Sweirczynski develops a brilliant story that weaves us between good and evil, light and dark, and never lets us forget that things are not always what they seem. I have just one question for the author: Why are there no quotes from The Prisoner?
Note: The third and final book in the Charlie Hardie trilogy, Point and Shoot is due out in March.(less)
The book starts off with 15 year-old John Wayne Cleaver (named for the actor, not the serial killer) attempting to keep control of his darker thought...more The book starts off with 15 year-old John Wayne Cleaver (named for the actor, not the serial killer) attempting to keep control of his darker thoughts and lack of emotions. We are allowed inside the mind of a teenage sociopath, to see his view of the town he lives in and the people he comes in contact with on a daily basis. Even more importantly, his view of his own mind and why he does (or does not) do the things he does. But with murders piling up in his sleepy little town, the story soon becomes a cat-and-mouse chase as he tries to first find and then take down a killer no one else would believe in, let alone could imagine. There were parts of this book where I found John pleasant and, despite his self-diagnosis of sociopathy, a normal teenage boy. Then there were times when he downright scared the hell out of me. In one scene he is holding a knife and threatening his mother, and he admits to himself that it feels good so he keeps doing it. The scene was nail-biting and page-turning. As I began this book I thought what a great movie it would make, but as I got further in I realized that no, it is much better off in book form. A movie won’t show us inside John’s head like the written word does – his thoughts of serial killers and killing and sociopaths would be lost in the translation to film and that would be a loss to the story. I’m on my way to get part two of the trilogy, Mr. Monster, and have claimed “Let’s hope the fan doesn’t give out on us” as my new catch-phrase. As you read the book, you’ll understand why.
Favorite Quote: “The project I did last year was on Jeffrey Dahmer,” I said. “He was a cannibal who kept severed heads in his freezer.” “I remember now,” said Max, his eyes darkening. “Your posters gave me nightmares. That was boss.” “Nightmares are nothing,” I said. “Those posters gave me a therapist.”(less)
I absolutely loved the coupling of Nik, slightly insecure over his Indian descent when living at home in small Whitetail Rock, and Jurgen, the new mot...moreI absolutely loved the coupling of Nik, slightly insecure over his Indian descent when living at home in small Whitetail Rock, and Jurgen, the new motorcycle cop in town. Nik has a great attitude and arrogance about him that would normally come off a bit rough but Tenino pulls it off by adding a sense of humor to Nik that is a bit quirky and off-the-wall. Jurgen is the sensible one, always able to bring Nik to his knees when he least expects it.
The way these two build up to their relationship – slowly, steadily – is the way a real relationship would happen is one of the keys to the success of Tenino’s writing. There is immediate attraction, yes, but they don’t fall into “love at first sight” (lust, yes, but not love). In fact, Nik pushes back, attracted to Jurgen but not wanting to become involved. And that is what real-life relationships can be like.
And I adore some of the quirky lines and responses posed by Nik:
"I don't suppose you're actually my birthday present and you're here to take your clothes off? I'll pay extra for a lap dance."
"You can't get another ass closer to home? I'd think you'd have no problem with that, your technique is quite refined."
If anyone asked, the chaps made him do it.
This was my first Anne Tenino book and I am looking forward to reading more. Her writing is pure and genuine, set in a realistic world. I’ve mentioned some of the amusing scenes but she can also bring out the hanky in the more touching moments. When Nik and Jurgen first touch each other? Wow… off the charts hot and you can sense even that early on the intensity between these two men. And then the bathroom sex? Hot, romantic and steamy all rolled into one great scene.(less)
I thought this story started out pretty silly. Elle accompanies her best friend to her class reunion. Since she’s older than her friend, she doesn’t r...moreI thought this story started out pretty silly. Elle accompanies her best friend to her class reunion. Since she’s older than her friend, she doesn’t really know anyone there. As she’s leaving, she trips and falls into Riley Forbes, hot male model extraordinaire. Within moments they’re planning to have sex – and they haven’t even kissed yet. Elle is two years older than Riley and while they’re driving separate cars back to the motel where they’re both staying (coincidentally, they’re in rooms across from each other), she’s hoping he doesn’t meet some “young thang” on the way and forget her.
However, there comes a point in the story where it begins to make sense. I won’t spoil the moment but it does make the whole story worthwhile. So if you can stick with it past the silly beginning, you’ll be touched by the ending and maybe find you’ve read a good story after all.(less)
Adam Maxwell is an author I have somehow missed in all my reading. Now I know better. The Night Before the Christmas Before I was Married & Other...moreAdam Maxwell is an author I have somehow missed in all my reading. Now I know better. The Night Before the Christmas Before I was Married & Other Festive Tales is six short stories, each taking place during the Christmas season and each involving our intrepid hero, Martin Lester.
When I read the first paragraph of The Night Before the Christmas Before I was Married, I knew I was hooked. Martin was punching a shopping mall Santa, covered in blood, with security guards in hot pursuit. Now, who hasn’t wanted to pummel a department store Santa at least oncein their adult lives? The story involves a run-in with an ex-girlfriend, an unexpected engagement and, after much and varied consumption of alcohol, a plan to rectify the whole situation before his real fiancée comes home.
In Blood in the Snow, Martin spends the holidays with his wife’s family. Here is how he puts it:
This year the big guns were out. This year we weren’t visiting my family. We were visiting my wife Sonia’s family.
Hang on, that deserves capital letters. MY WIFE’S FAMILY.
WHAT A BUNCH OF LOON BAGS. Sorry. I mean what a bunch of interesting people whose take on life is slightly different to my own. And my wife’s. And pretty much anyone else I had ever met who walked upright.
Here he confronts a family of drunken fools (including his wife) and a “Papa” that throws mugs of chocolate at the nearest bystander. He deals with his wife’s family the way we would all wish we could deal with our own families at times – he pretty much ignores them. Until he can’t anymore.
For Rudolph Redux, our man attempts to install an electric Rudolph on the roof of his house. He ends up hanging from the roof, the electrical cord tied around his foot, with Rudolph “swinging and hitting me repeatedly in the face” while his wife yells at him to not put that thing on his roof. I admit I laughed all the way through this story as I remember my parents during the Christmas season (and pretty much any season where decorating was required). If you have ever decorated or watched the decorating, you will enjoy this story.
Ah, Widow Twanky’s Revenge, where Martin is out to do good deeds by delivering Meals on Wheels to the elderly shut-ins. Wonderful, isn’t he? He even takes on additional stops when another driver breaks his leg. What a guy that Martin is! One of his new stops just happens to live in a gothic-style house and collects Pantomime posters in which he has cut out the Widow Twanky on each one. But that’s okay, right? Just because he comes to the door with “rouged cheeks, a big ginger wig full of ringlets, a pair of frilly bloomers and to cap it all, completely bare-chested” that doesn’t mean anything, does it? This was one of my favorite stories in the book, probably because I actually know what British Pantomime (or Panto, as they say) is.
In the final story, The Curious Story of the Hypnotist’s Christmas Tree , Martin has to remember only two things: a gift for his girlfriend’s mother and a tree for his girlfriend’s office. However, plagued as Martin is, he loses his list and ends up battling fellow stage hypnotist the Great Gerry Spagnolo for the biggest tree on the lot. It was greatly amusing to read about men thinking they were chickens and kings and misquoting Shakespeare. And when the army came march-stepping in…
Martin is truly everyman. Terrible things happen to him at the worst times and, while he does his best to fix things, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But he keeps plugging away, year after year, not letting it get him down. I can’t wait until he has kids!
Adam Maxwell has a true talent for writing. He kept me laughing throughout this series of stories and just when I thought Martin couldn’t do anything worse or funnier, he does. Far Side and Maxwell? Neck and neck. (less)
A short story showing the emotional problems women can face following an abusive relationship, A Cowboy's Christmas Wish follows Payton and Derek as t...moreA short story showing the emotional problems women can face following an abusive relationship, A Cowboy's Christmas Wish follows Payton and Derek as they develop their friendship into a true relationship.
There is one wonderful scene where Payton drops a bowl and expects Derek to beat her for it. She cowers from him and apologizes over and over again. It is at the same time poignant and yet horrifically true-to-life.
If anything, the story was too short. There was no time to develop the characters or to give decent development to the background story. While the story is decent, a longer version would be preferred.(less)