HELL & GONE is the second book of The Accident People trilogy, but it's so different from the first, it's barely a pertinent perequisite to have read the first. Swierczynski does a good job at explaining what happened in FUN & GAMES anyway. In this novel, the scruffy, likable and impossible to kill Charlie Hardie is caught in a secret underground prison where...he's the warden! A whole lot of nuttiness ensues. Imagine your most over-the-top conspiracy theory buddy's speech. Yeah that, but in a novel.
I know what you're thinking. Dan Brown's Free Masons and Illuminati delirium is the same thing. Well, no. While Brown's material has the potential to be as wacky and fun, it isn't because DB takes himself so seriously, he gets a concussion just to look at his old photo albums. Swierczynski's trilogy has the right tone to convey such a crazy, paranoid material. It's pulp fiction in its purest form and it's a triumph for the genre that a big print like Mulholland Books have decided to take a chance on it. I wouldn't be surprised to see The Accident People trilogy being optioned and turned into a movie. Done right, it could be extremely successful.
THREE REASONS TO READ: HELL & GONE
1) Charlie Hardie. He's a protagonist so rational and so damaged, he keeps the pace with the ongoing crazyness, but not without questioning it all the time. His wits are little nuggets of gold, peppered through the novels.
2) The paranoid atmosphere. The prisoners as well as the staff are kept in the dark, regarding where they are or why they are there and it's driving them completely nuts. It's like having conspiracy theorists inside a conspiracy theory story.
3) It's about the closest literary thing to an action movie. Really. By that, I don't mean SAFE HOUSE action, I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, action.
THREE TOPICS ABOUT: HELL & GONE
1) Charlie Hardie is physically incapacitated throughout the novel. In perspective, do you think that it was a handicap or a plus for him?
2) HELL & GONE is a novel about the disparities between the individual and the system. Do you think someone can be imprisoned without a trial or even disobeying the law, if it's for the greater good?
3) Would you still consider yourself free, if you learned that reality as you know it, is organized by a group of people you didn't know the existence of?