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The Singer's Gun

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,535 Ratings  ·  264 Reviews
Everyone Anton Waker grew up with is corrupt. His parents deal in stolen goods and his first career is a partnership venture with his cousin Aria selling forged passports and social security cards to illegal aliens. Anton longs for a less questionable way of living in the world and by his late twenties has reinvented himself as a successful middle manager. Then a routine s ...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published April 6th 2009 by Unbridled Books
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Virginia Tullock Depends on what you like. it is well written, but jumps around a bit. I like it- an original story. I just finished Station Eleven by the same author,…moreDepends on what you like. it is well written, but jumps around a bit. I like it- an original story. I just finished Station Eleven by the same author, and loved it- a unique post apocalypse story.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 29, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
”Afterward, every destination acquired a sudden glow of hellfire, every trip an element of thoroughly unwanted suspense. Escape has become a problem in itself. A travel book without danger----to the body, the soul or the future----is entirely out of time.

...We stand in need of something stronger now: the travel book you can read while making your way through this new, alarming world.”

Michael Pye
The New York Times, June 1, 2003

All Anton Waker ever wanted was a normal job. Not a normal low paying
Andrew Smith
Jul 11, 2016 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anton Walker is bright, he’s a brilliant student at high school and dreams of one day holding down an ‘executive position’. His cousin, Aria, is displaced when her parents skip the country and abandon her. Aria steals things. How a Anton is influenced by Aria and where this leads them both is at the core of this tale.

Told in her standard style, jumping around in time and place, Emily St. John Mandel places layers of the story on the page until it all knits together and makes sense. She is a mas
Jul 23, 2014 Claudia rated it liked it
I liked the structure of this book a lot, but I found myself not particularly involved. It left me feeling rather unmoved.

It was odd, really; it started off feeling like a thriller, but then those elements sort of dropped out and it became a more regular novel, as it were, but one that was built really well. I found myself appreciating the way the story was unfolding, intellectually, and thinking, "well, this is clever," but I kept feeling a bit detached from the characters themselves (even whe
Sep 24, 2014 Elyse rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of this young author! Emily St. John Mandel is a talented writer. If people enjoy reading 'Tana French' --I think they will enjoy 'Emily St. John Mandel.

I still have her 3rd book yet to read...

Apr 11, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it

I just love this author! I wish she wrote more novels though of course I don't want to rush her. She is young and hopefully will get to keep publishing books for years to come. This is her second, after Last Night in Montreal. Her third, The Lola Quartet, will be released in May and I can hardly wait.

Both books so far have been essentially mysteries but Ms Mandel puts her own signature on the genre. In The Singer's Gun, a title which indeed does name the murder weapon, Anton is the son of crimin
Aug 01, 2010 Edan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Laura Leaney, Mike Reynolds, people who liked Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply
Recommended to Edan by: Patrick Brown
I really enjoyed this book! The prose is slick and clear as glass, and I loved the non-linear, mosaic-like structure, and the way Mandel presented a character's memories with a simple phrase, word or name, followed by a colon, and then a description of such phrase, word or person. It was so elegant, even sexy. Lots of sexiness in this book, guys: naked girls, singers with guns, recording devices, criminal families, Italian islands and payphones, cats eating tuna in airport bathrooms...

At first,
Irene Ziegler
Jul 28, 2010 Irene Ziegler rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is a read for a book club. The more I think about it, the more divided my reaction, a sure promise of a lively discussion. The book examines illegal immigration from the point of view of a man whose family profits by selling fake social security numbers and passports to desperate foreigners. Anton's job is to deliver the packages and accept payment from the illegal recipients. Because Anton wants to get out of the business, we're supposed to like him. Further, he has sympathetic feelings fo ...more
Girls Gone Reading
Dec 23, 2010 Girls Gone Reading rated it really liked it
We are told early on in The Singer’s Gun that everything is holy. Anton’s mother told him that, “God is the universe,” and from then on Anton looked at the trees, the stars, the train stations all as holy places of creation. Emily St. John Mandel is such a phenomenal writer that I started to see everything in her novel as holy as well.

The Singer’s Gun is book that only could have been written now, after 9/11, after the war on terror, after the breaches by our government in order to keep us “free
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 Micheal Fraser rated it it was amazing
When I first read Last Night in Montreal I said to myself this (and books like this) is why I became a bookseller in the first place. Well, after having finished The Singer's Gun I have to say it again. When one finds a new author who writes a book you lose yourself in and follows it up with something as good or better, well, this makes life worth living.

Begining in a beaucratic hell worthy of Kafka, its turns into something wholely unexpected and surprising. To speak of the plot, I think, would
Emelie Gaughan
Emily St John Mandel is officially the author I can't get enough of right now! Her newest book Station Eleven blew me away and I immediately wanted to read the rest of her works.
This one was a mash up of genres to me. It's unfolds much like a mystery as you discover more and more about characters and their motives. It reads like a thriller, and even though there isn't any particular plot point that totally shocks you, you find yourself continually turning pages to see what's next. Overall, it wa
Mar 28, 2016 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2, rounded up to 4 because of her always top notch writing and because I'm a fan girl. This is the 3rd (of 4?) ESJM books I've read, and I adored it just a little less than the other two. I'm not sure where this falls in the chronology of her novels. Her distinct style is there, and her writing is lovely as ever, but there was less certainty in the plot and not as much depth in the characters as in her other work. I still recommend it, and I still plan to read The Lola Quartet. She's become ...more
Patrick Brown
Jan 28, 2010 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2010
I didn't think it was possible for Mandel to best her dizzyingly great debut novel, but this account of a family caught up in a dirty business is superb. Again, she excels at structure and pacing, moving forward and back in time seamlessly. Highly recommended for fans of the second season of The Wire.
Jun 05, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
“Sometimes regular channels aren’t open to you, and then you have to improvise. Find your own way out. Think about it, Anton. What does it take to succeed in this world?”

“It’s never easy. You have to be creative sometimes. You have to make things happen for yourself.”

What does it mean to be a good person? Can you justify a tiny bit of crime, maybe by simply looking the other way, if your intent is good? Are you saving the world if you ignoring your own child?

The Singer’s Gun is an incredible no
while not as accomplished as the superb Station Eleven which brought the author to my attention and made me get all her novels to date, The Singer's Gun is a page turner that one cannot put down, full of interesting characters - most notably Anton and his desperate quest for "normality", though cutting corners and having a troubled past may catch with him at any moment, and Elena, a Canadian illegal (!!) who also wants a regular life; the concerned US policewoman (ok State Dept investigator into ...more
Sam Reaves
Dec 22, 2015 Sam Reaves rated it liked it
A New York yuppie, the only honest member of his dodgy family, is blackmailed into playing bagman for a cousin's shady deal while on his honeymoon on an Italian island. The marriage is the first thing that succumbs; other extinctions follow. There is considerable backstory, involving furtive love affairs, doomed relationships and federal investigations. I can't quite make up my mind about this book; it's reasonably entertaining, smoothly written, and menacing enough in the end. It's original and ...more
Laura de Leon
May 05, 2010 Laura de Leon rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, review-copy
The Singer's Gun was a 4.5 star book for me.

The story was a look at a young man's life, complicated because of the lies he and his family lived by. Secrets were uncovered, and new webs were woven by the people nearby to take their place.

There are aspects of a thriller, of good guys and bad guys and guns and pursuit. But even more than a thriller, this was a personal tale-- How does one person escape the web he was born into, particularly if he uses the tools of his upbringing to stage his escap
Charlotte Jones
Oct 05, 2015 Charlotte Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the sort of book I would usually gravitate towards but I'm so glad that I have read it.

Mandel's writing is just as simple yet beautiful as it is in Station Eleven but with a haunting undertone that leaves the reader eager to read on. The plot itself is intricate and told in a non-linear style. This mixing of the characters' timelines adds to the mystery and reveals small details slowly, building up to the bigger picture as the story progresses.

Overall this was a short but detailed n
Jan 12, 2011 Carol rated it liked it
I needed to sleep on this one before commenting. When I read the very first review of The Singer’s Gun, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. Words like half truths, exploration of moral compass, suspenseful, were enough to add this to my TBR pile. Then The Singer’s Gun started showing up on some Best of 2010 lists and I knew I had to move it up on my list.

The Singer’s Gun was not quite what I was expecting. It is not a crime novel in the usual sense. Rather than sum up the plot let me tell you
Piepie Beuttel
Jun 07, 2016 Piepie Beuttel rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Really curious and intriguing book. I couldn't put it down! The main character, Anton, receives the "singer's gun" only sometime after the midpoint of the story. Again Emily St. John Mandel's beautiful writing is on full display -- sentences and fragments so well written that I read and re-read them just to take them all in. She packs a lot into a book that is not quite 300 pages. I've read her books out of order (as far as the order in which they were published), and I see similarities between ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Margaret rated it liked it
It'll be a few days before I can rate this book. All I can say right now is that I think it's just as good as Station Eleven (the author's most recent book and the first book of hers that I have read) but is so very different in tone. The style is similar: moving back and forth in time, the author brings together the threads of a story. Where Station Eleven is charming, this is bleak. But still worth reading.
Jul 30, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
I first was introduced to Emily St. John Mandel's writing in Last Night in Montreal, which nearly knocked my socks off. The writing was superb and the story was intriguing. Even so, I was not sure what to expect with her latest, The Singer's Gun. I was eager to give it a try though. Like with her first book, I hesitate to describe it (which is why you are presented with the publisher blurb above). There is so much to The Singer's Gun. On the surface it sounds like a crime fiction novel, but it r ...more
Mar 15, 2010 J.A. rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, holy-grail
Choosing a book to read is like picking out the holy grail. Sure you can drink from any of the vessels in the sanctuary, but pick the showy ostentatious number completely devoid of substance and you could end up a dessicated husk of a human being, your life literally siphoned away. Choose wisely, as the knight tells Indiana Jones, and it will grant you healing and restoration. You may even find illumination, like Indy’s father. Just pay heed to the guardian when he tells you not to take it from ...more
Toni Osborne
Nov 26, 2011 Toni Osborne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became a fan of Ms. Mandel when I stumbled on her debut novel "Last Night in Montreal". Her second novel is totally different and proved to be just as enjoyable. This time, I was treated to a sophisticated cocktail filled with flashbacks and flash forwards mixed into a fiery mystery of suspense, international intrigue, a tale of family loyalties and the price one pays to obtain independence.

The story concerns the conflicting and intersecting interests of Anton Waker, his ex-secretary/lover El
The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel
The Singer’s Gun - Emily St.John Mandel
Audio performance by Morgan Hallett
4.5 stars

Somehow, I had the impression that Station Eleven was a debut novel. Fortunately, I was wrong. I don’t have to wait for a long time to read another book by Emily St. John Mandel. I didn’t like this one quite as much as Station Eleven; not quite, but it was very good.

The story begins at the end. A federal agent is investigating a crime; immigration fraud, trafficking, a death, possibly a murder. She would like
Jeff Tucker
Apr 16, 2013 Jeff Tucker rated it liked it
I've read all three of Emily St. John Mandel’s books now. She’s going on my favorite author’s list. I guess we all eventually find certain writers who have the style and the pace that works well for us. She continues with many of the same themes that are found in her other books. Her flawed characters are living on the fringes of society and going through major life changes. Her characters often have interesting back stories that add to the richness of the work. Her stories always move forward t ...more
Dan Rimoldi
Nov 27, 2011 Dan Rimoldi rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because I had heard some very good things and the comparisons that have been made to the second season of The Wire, an underrated season in my opinion. I'm glad I did. The comparisons with the docks from The Wire are quite obvious once you read the term "shipping container."

The Singer's Gun is a very good book, a mystery that is structured perfectly as it weaves moments from the past and present together. It brings up a lot of things about the issue of identity and reminded
May 26, 2016 Christina rated it it was amazing
To me, a Mandel novel is like an Edward Hopper painting: loneliness, transience, shadows, yet a tinge of hopefulness. These emotions, themes and images leap from the page even with Mandel's "Hemingwayesque" writing style. In fact, it is this writing style that probably magnifies these themes.

I simply cannot get enough of Mandel. Her writing pulls me in every time. She is somehow able to capture the characteristics of life in this current age. "The Singer's Gun" in particular is one that could no
Hannah (fullybookedreviews)
This is a rather difficult book to review.

There's no doubting the quality of the author's writing, but I found it a rather strange book, and difficult to love. It switches back and forth in time, and begins rather ominously - but it has, dare I say it - something of a happy ending?

Make no mistake, these characters are no angels - from cheating to an illegal smuggling business, these humans are more flawed than most. Somehow, however, a few manage to find some sort of redemption. It also takes a
Aug 13, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
It could just be how my job is going these days, but the lines about work really resonated for me in this novel: "Work is always a little sordid." (p. 107); "Well, most things you have to do in life are at least a little questionable." (p. 166). Early on in the book someone's job abandons them (in dead file storage no less) which I found a really intriguing idea.

I thought this novel was very well written, and even though I didn't really like the main character I couldn't stop reading because I
Cari Noga
Apr 19, 2015 Cari Noga rated it liked it
I found the plot intriguing and the characters promising in this pick for my book club. However, their voices were too similar to each other, which prevented me from connecting with any one in particular and from really sinking into the story. Rarely do I find that books should be longer, but another 50 pages of development in the characters' histories, as well as another POV -- perhaps the mother's -- would have helped round out this novel.
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Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, is forthcoming in September 2014. All three of her previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were Indie Next
More about Emily St. John Mandel...

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“A or B, two options present themselves, and you choose the one that seems best at the time.” 0 likes
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