Mulholland, $14.99, 286 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-13328-9
Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right? Where every blessed thing is late, broken, or uncooperative? You know what I mean. The wake-up alarm doesn’t go off, you can’t find the car keys, the boss is all in an uproar and your co-workers won’t talk to you? Well, let me tell you about Charlie Hardie, the protagonist in this weeks MBR NO. 37, and a really, Really, R-E-A-L-L-Y bad day at work. The novel is “The first of three explosive pulp thrillers” by an author and cult crime fiction writer named Duane Swierczynski. It’s title is Fun & Games.
In it, Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop with a past, and a drinking problem in the present, flies into Los Angeles and rents a compact car as he prepares to start a new job as a house-sitter in one of LA’s exclusive, and expensive, canyon homes out by the Pacific Coast Highway. But that’s the end of Charlie’s good day. Instead of a sixty-inch plasma TV and a soft leather couch, he finds a squatter, who stabs him with a microphone stand and claims to be a famous actress, who’s being chased by a team of hit men determined to kill her, and Charlie’s day gets nothing but worse. Before it’s over he’s been stabbed, beaten, shot at, the house he’s being paid to watch is blown up and burned to the ground, and he winds up fleeing for his life with hit men, the LAPD and FBI all looking for him. It’s mystery, mayhem, and murder in non-stop action from the opening sentence to the last page in the best pulp fiction tradition. This is the first of the trilogy, and I’ll review the second Charlie Hardie adventure, Hell & Gone next week. Stay tuned. If you liked the movie Pulp Fiction, you’re gonna love the Charlie Hardie Series.