April 29, 2013

Rocket-Fueled Revenge: a review of Duane Swierczynski's "Point and Shoot"

Point and Shoot (Charlie Hardie #3)
IBSN 9780316133302
Available via Amazon.com and Book Depository 

Point and Shoot, the conclusion to Duane Swierczynski's Charlie Hardie trilogy is BONKERS. By the time I reached the last page, that was the only word I was left with, as I tried to wrap my brain around the proverbial rocket-ride that was the first book, Fun and Games, to the literal rocket-ride in Point and Shoot.

Oh yes, if you're not already aware, this novel starts with Charlie Hardie in, of all places, outer space. Now, if you haven't read the first two books in this trilogy, stop reading this review and go find them, because I doubt you can fully appreciate this book without seeing how things got to this point. Heck, here are a couple links to help you out: Fun and Games and Hell and Gone.

So here it goes. Charlie, a disgraced ex-cop turned housesitter, winds up in L.A. to take care of a bigwigs house only to wind up trying to protect a starlet who's been targeted by a squad of assassins known as the Accident People. Despite causing a major headache for the assassins and their bosses, he winds up in their clutches and abducted to a secret underground prison straight out of one of Donald Rumsfeld's wet dreams. But Charlie has an uncanny ability to survive harrowing situations, and takes the fight to the Accident People and their bosses, the Cabal, once again. But it's more of a stalemate than anything and Charlie bargains for the lives of his estranged wife and son in exchange for protecting some extremely valuable merchandise for the same people that tried again and again to kill him.

If you thought Bruce Willis took a beating in the Die Hard movies, he's got nothing on Charlie Hardie.

As Point and Shoot begins, Charlie is house-sitting a satellite--that is until someone rockets up there with word that whatever is hidden inside the thing is key to bringing down the Cabal and saving Charlie's family. Charlie, however, doesn't know who to trust, doesn't know up from down, but it's not like he has a lot of choices when the satellite gets knocked out of orbit.

I say again: this book is bonkers. Fun and Games was my favorite novel of 2011 and a superb action-packed thrillride. Then, Hell and Gone went into left field with the hole trapped-like-a-rat theme that had a tinge of sci-fi with how the prison and its workings were revealed. And now, Point and Shoot goes even further into left field by taking every single surviving character from the first two books and hurling them at each other with the ferocity and take-no-prisoners style of dueling Gatling guns. Just when you think you have a handle on what's going on, Duane Swierczynski finds some way to send the plot careening into an even more insane collision course.

I recall this book being delayed for nearly a year or so, because Swierczynski wanted to end this trilogy just right. Given all the moving parts and the miraculous way he prevented things from falling apart at the seams in the third act, I'd say he made good use of the pushed deadline. To say things do not end how you expect, let alone how you might want, is an understatement. I can merely sit back and marvel at this series in all its splendid, blood-spattered glory--and wish there was some way to have one more Charlie Hardie novel.

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