Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hell & Gone

Duane Swierczynski
Hell & Gone

Mulholland Books UK, 2011

Write about the second part of the Charlie Hardie trilogy about «Hell & Gone» is pretty hard. Those who have read the first part, «Fun & Games» (and are there those who have not read it? Then you should be ashamed of: it is one of the best novels published last year. Mistakes should be corrected: buy this book immediately!), had lots of fun and they do not need any advice, they will buy «Hell & Gone» for sure. Because after reading the first book, one can’t not read the second one.

If you still assume that those who have not read the first part do exist in nature, they would hardly need to read a review of the second part: the fear of spoilers does not allow them to read even a review of the first part. Respectively, those remain who have read this book already. For them, perhaps, all of the following is written.

Charlie Hardie, the protagonist of the trilogy, «had been nearly drowned, shot in his left arm, shot in the side of his head, and almost shot in the face at point-blank range», but is still alive. Now he falls into the hands of Accident People - those scoundrels, who unsuccessfully tried to kill him in the previous book. Accident People, a secret organization with immense possibilities, decide to keep Charlie's life. Modern medicine is capable of anything (especially in the hands of scum), and now Charlie darned, sewed and brought into consciousness. Our hero has been waiting for a brutal massacre on him, but Accident People surprise him. Charlie is left alive and placed in a secret underground prison. Moreover - Charlie is in charge of the prison, where in addition several dangerous criminals serve time. Getting out of prison is not possible: if someone tries to escape, everybody will die. Meanwhile, Deke Clark, an FBI agent and the only person whom Hardie trusts, at the end of the first book has got a message for help from Charle, and now tries to figure out where his friend is gone and who is behind his abduction.

With sadness we have to admit, but this book is not as good as the first part. After the first book, which was one continuous action, you do not expect that the action will stop, and vice versa - will turn into an anti-action, because what the prison is if not restriction of movement? I would be glad, if «Hell & Gone» would appear a prison novel. But «Hell & Gone» combines with prison novels only that there is also a prison in it. Why dangerous criminals of the world (actually comical characters) were not immediately killed, but placed in the prison from which there is no escape anyway? Motivations, given by the author, I find not convincing. If Accident People wanted to use these prisoners, they would have used them and not held for several years in prison. In addition, the characters gathered in a secret prison are all dumb. There would be no use of them.

Swierczynski has gone too far in this book with coincidences and melodramatism. The first book was strong because the plot was such that a coincidence had no place in it, but you couldn’t find melodramatism there even if you tried hard.

The book is written in the same style as «Fun & Games». In the first book the style combined with the plot successfully: chopped phrases and non-stop action, - but in the second book prison isolation and darkness require long sentences, slowing down the language, but Swierczynski left the patter of the first book, breaking the line between style and plot.

Despite its flaws, the book definitely has something to enjoy. The novel has a great beginning and an unexpected ending. We learn more about Charlie's past life. Fragments of a book on the relationship between Hardie and his late partner are the most stunning here. And the plotline with Deke Clark delivers.

«Hell & Gone», if considered as a bridge to the third part, is a not bad book, but if we consider the novel as a standalone product - it is close to failure.

Whatever it was, I’m looking forward to the third part.

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