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The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
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May 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 52-in-2010
Read in May, 2010

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (pp. 368)

There isn’t much that Hugh Laurie can’t do. Yes, that Hugh Laurie famously known as the title TV character, House. This novel is just another hyphenate added to his long list of Renaissance Man accomplishments. The Gun Seller is a spy thriller satire that is fun, full of descriptions that paint full panoramic views ready for the movie screen, and uses a vocabulary taken from many of the classic thriller writers and movies. There are elements of P.G. Woodhouse, Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, and Dashiell Hammett. There are sections of the book that are also reminiscent spy movies with more sardonic tones of the last 20 years.

Laurie’s dry, British wit comes through his main character, Thomas Lang, an ex-soldier who gets wrapped up in a combination of corrupt government officials, industrial military complex plots for profit, assassinations gone wrong, a damsel in distress and a rag-tag bunch of mercenaries for hire.

The subplots are well written and ultimately reach a satisfactory conclusion, but the joy of this book is how well Laurie is able to trigger a reader’s sense memory of all the writers before him. Scenes pop off the page. Dialogue and non-sequiturs are clever and amusing while lacking the funny ha-ha that could easily grate on the readers nerves.

At times I found myself getting a little lost among the changes in characters names and nicknames given to minor player by the main character. There are also moments when you loose some plot momentum with some more densely written scenery and the main character’s inner monologue.

But, the ability to enjoy the book on two separate levels: the story on its own merits and the others that it evokes during the story’s telling provide a great deal of enjoyment. Add the notion that Laurie is writing a spoof that doesn’t nod and wink to the camera every fifteen pages or using it as an excuse to be lazy with the writing, this book would a good read even without the famous satirist behind the wheel and the spoof label attached to it.
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