Kemper's Reviews > Hell and Gone

Hell and Gone by Duane Swierczynski
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Dec 26, 11

bookshelves: 2011, crime-mystery, thriller, vast-conspiracy, charlie-hardie
Read from December 21 to 26, 2011

Duane Swierczynski has ideas so brilliant and brutal that one day the rest of us will have to tool up and kill him. - Warren Ellis

Swierczynski seems to be making the transition from cult favorite to getting more main stream attention, so Ellis will probably try to make good on this threat in the near future. Since I’m enjoying the hell out of his work, I am volunteering my services as a bodyguard. What I lack in training, experience and competence, I make up for in my utter willingness to pepper spray absolutely anyone (including small children and the elderly) who’d give Mr. Swierczynski any grief.

Hell and Gone is the second part of a trilogy. In the first book, Fun and Games, ex-cop Charlie Hardie is a house sitting drunk who has a very bad encounter with the Accident People. The AP’s are a branch of a Vast Conspiracy that does a variety of nefarious things, and their specialty is the elimination of high profile targets like politicians or celebrities via untraceable ‘accidents’. Charlie threw a monkey wrench into one of their operations in L.A. but didn’t manage to escape so he figured he’d be dead in about 12 seconds.

But instead of killing him, Charlie is given a weird job offer. The Vast Conspiracy decides to make him the warden of a secret prison instead. With no other options, Charlie plays along hoping to find a way to escape. Unfortunately, the prison is a decaying underground complex at an unknown location that would make a pretty good setting for a video game. The handful of inmates are extremely dangerous and require a Hannibal Lector level of security, and the guards are only slightly more trustworthy than the prisoners. And the special sauce on this shit sandwich is that if any one tries to get out through the original entrance, it’d trigger a ‘death mechanism’ that kills everyone in the prison.

Fun and Games was a fast-n-furious action novel with heaping helpings of ultra-violence and humor. Hell and Gone is less actiony and more of a mind fuck, but it’s still powered by it’s breakneck pace and the sheer awesome insanity of its plot. This is the literary equivalent of taping a bunch of bottle rockets together, lighting the fuses and then tossing them into the middle of your 4th of July barbecue. It’s chaos, but it’s entertaining as hell. And if Swierczynski did what I think he did at the end of this one, the final book is going to be even crazier.

Also, Swierczynski is one of the authors I got to meet at Bouchercon earlier this year, and he seemed like a very nice guy who patiently answered my questions about superheroes. I may even brave the latest DC continuity reboot and pick up his Birds of Prey comics which I’ve heard good things about.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I like the cover art.


message 2: by mark (new)

mark monday opening a review with a quote from Warren Ellis is a sign of Automatic Awesome.


Kemper Stephanie wrote: "I like the cover art."

Yeah, I like the theme they used on all three books.


Kemper mark wrote: "opening a review with a quote from Warren Ellis is a sign of Automatic Awesome."

And it was right on the front cover of the book so it was easy to find!


message 5: by James (new)

James Thane I didn't know you had met him at B-Con. I just read The Wheelman and really liked it a lot. I'll have to look for this one.


Kemper James wrote: "I didn't know you had met him at B-Con. I just read The Wheelman and really liked it a lot. I'll have to look for this one."

He was cool as hell at Bouchercon. Be sure to read Fun & Games before this one.


message 7: by James (new)

James Thane Kemper wrote: "Be sure to read Fun & Games before this one..."

Will do.


message 8: by Pat (new)

Pat C. What is bouchercon?


Kemper Pat wrote: "What is bouchercon?"

A convention for crime writers and their fans.


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