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Gun Machine

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  7,797 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews
After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable p ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Mulholland Books (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,797 ratings  ·  1,093 reviews

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Nov 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5-0, 2013, crime-mystery
A couple of NYPD detectives respond to a call about a screaming naked man with a shotgun roaming the halls of an apartment building. Surprisingly, it’s not Ted Nugent.

Unfortunately, John Tallow’s partner and only real friend is killed in the ensuing mêlée. Afterwards, while the cops check the building for injured people, John makes a startling discovery. Behind a high tech security door in one apartment are hundreds of hand guns arranged in intricate patterns on the walls and floors. Initial ba
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Okay. First off, it's pretty irritating to me that someone who writes comics as good as Warren Ellis does can write a novel as good as this. It strikes me as profoundly unfair that Ellis hops storytelling media with such apparent ease.

It would be nice if you bobbled the ball just a *little* bit, man. Just to be polite....

In short. I really enjoyed it. Police procedural isn't my normal stomping ground, but honestly, I'll read any book that so tightly written, witty, and cunning in its language.
Manuel Antão
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

My first contact with Warren Ellis.

When I started reading the book I only knew that the movie “Red” with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren was based on a book written by him. Apart from that I had no idea who Warren Ellis was (now I know...), that is, what kind of books he'd written, what his Weltanschauung was, etc, etc.
What a fantastic book. "Visceral" is the word that comes to mind after having finished it. Hard-boiled fiction of the hi
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I will get the negative out of the way first. I would not have read this book with a different author’s name on it. Police procedural, serial killer, New York, Detective who doesn't fit it, cold case, Crime scene unit, sorry I fell asleep writing that list of almost fatally boring elements of popular culture. I love Ellis’s comic work, and enjoyed his quirky, weird, and disgusting first novel but was confused why he choose to write something so ubiquitous and crassly commercial. As I read along ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Man I [mostly] love Warren Ellis's writing, but the investigative plot of Gun Machine really could've used a bit more work. I guess both are consequences of Ellis's transition from comic book writer to novelist, his style is just so uniquely compelling and definitely not something I see every day, even with the sheer number of books I typically read. Yet at the same time, the logic behind the murder mystery really needed more polishing - it's not bad compared to a typical comic book plot but for ...more
Warren Ellis reimagines New York City as a puzzle with the most dangerous pieces of all: GUNS.

After a shooting on Pearl Street claims the life of Detective John Tallow’s partner, he unwittingly stumbles into an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, it is found that each gun is connected to a previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years and keeping each gun as a trophy. Tallow has been put on the case and with the help of two CSU employees they are soon
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading this novel by one of favorite comicbook writers, Warren Ellis, I couldn't help but compare it to another favorite comibook writer/novelist, Neil Gaiman. Initially, I thought Gun Machine had a little of American Gods, of the old subsumed by the new, or of Neverwhere, of secret maps and more secret cities. Far from it, this book is more grounded in reality, it's a cop story done the Ellis way.

If I'm going to compare Gun Machine to something, I might as well compare to Ellis' prior works. T
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, thriller, schlock
Super noir schlock in a good way that will selectively appeal. Warren Ellis takes some stock crime elements
1. Place: New York City with the violence amped back up to crack epidemic levels
2. Hero: Embittered numb police detective who somehow rouses himself despite the rules to solve the case man because there is a killer out there and nobody gives a damm
3. Villain: Psycho homicidal maniac with deadly skills and a gun fetish
4. Conspiracy: Greedy capitalists with no scruples out to control the wor
J Edward Tremlett
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: warren-ellis
NYC Detective John Tallow is "that kind" of cop. Not good, bad, stunning, or stupid -- the one who's just sort of there. After four years of being partnered with a real go-getter, he's pretty much given up on trying to do his job; he's content to live in his head, wallow in a cluttered apartment, and refuse to even try to have a social life for fear of risking what remains of his emotional stability.

That changes one day, when his partner gets shot in the brains by a naked guy with a shotgun, qui
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Warren Ellis takes a swipe at the police procedural genre. When he's doing the mechanics of getting through the plot and novel-standard descriptive prose, it's pretty much like watching dogs fuck: seen one, seen 'em all.

Where he shines - like laugh out loud so people think I've taken on Ellis' insane glamours, or wide-eyed at the ideas he's stringing together - is when people find themselves in a general state of disrepair. Like this: "Fuck me," Bat gasped. "It's like an angel shat ice cream-cof
Mar 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
I don't know if I've read a more stereotypical book in the last 5 years from a character standpoint... Let's see, you have:

- The "tough on his luck" loner detective who doesn't do his job by the book but he's the best they've got.

- The "between a wall and a hard place" woman police sergeant who demands a lot of her cops and has their respect but has to deal with a lot of crap when her hands aren't tied by the higher-ups.

- The dirty ex-cop/politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

- The a
Mar 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
With some great visuals, I was not surprised to learn that Warren Ellis writes comic books; in fact, this could be converted into an excellent graphic novel, particularly the "Gun Machine" itself. The highlights are: a frustrated protagonist seriously down on his luck, a group of oddly endearing CSI colleagues, and an interesting juxtaposition of modern/historical Manhattan. I wish the bad guys were better developed, especially the main villain, who base motivations were mostly unexplained and a ...more
Michael Connelly, Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain are a few of the authors who have made a home for themselves writing police procedural, a sub genre of mystery novels. Typically involving a police detective investigation of realistic crimes, mostly murder, following clues and a cop's intuition more than CSI, although forensics does play a role, these novels can be very engrossing.

Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis definitely falls into the better part of this genre with conniving criminals, a psychopathic
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A shotgun blast rains a hail of brain matter and blood down on a single cop who later makes it his mission to rid the world of a maniac collector of sorts, obsessed with weapons owning the bodies of murder victims.

John Tallow, a NYPD Detective isn't the typical protagonist in what, on face value, looks like a traditional police procedural. Warren Ellis gives his broken and semi-recluse lead character a voice unlike many detectives I've read in the genre. Perception is key in Tallow's competency,
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5. My feelings on this book were mixed for most of it but it ultimately let me down. It's an awesome premies but the story seemed to follow the lead detective not the crimes, nor the killer, for most of the book. Sadly, this was the best parts of the book for me. ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2016
Despite quite liking when I read it, I don't think this deserves 4 stars, so I'm downgrading it to 3.
It's a funny thing but when I was reading Gun Machine, I couldn't help but think about Lorenzo Silva's series on Bevilacqua y Chamorro (which started with El lejano país de los estanques). They are both crime books, but I don't think they have anything else in common. Gun Machine was an enjoyable detective story that focused on the resolution of the case via the main character while Silva's serie
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART OR WEAK OF STOMACH. And yet, this book is full of heart. Great old-fashioned tired-tough-as-nails-but-with-a-heart-of-gold NYPD detective Tallow stumbles into a serial killer's treasure trove, quite literally, and the fun begins.

Ellis populates this rocket ride with endearingly geeky techies and infuriatingly real superior officers- you know, the kind of links in a chain of command that just live to wrap your working end around a tree and put the wench in reverse and
Donald Armfield
This is my fifth First Reads from goodreads. I was excited to win this book being a fan of Warren Ellis's Spider Jerusalem in the Trasmetropolitan comics.

After his partner death in a condemned building. Detective John Tallow comes across an apartment to the ceiling with guns. Each gun belonging to a previous death.

The hunter performs deadly acts a murderer of New York City. Following right behind Tallow every foot step. Tallow must solve the case of the apartment of guns and many other murders t
Rex Fuller
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you like hip/edgy writing...this will scratch that itch like a personal to speak.

At first, it put me off as too fast and loose with reality: a psychotic serial killer is found to have constructed a several hundred gun display of weapons used over decades of the murders in a New York apartment, including the Son of Sam .44 stolen from the police property room. This requires a level of planning not doable by a psychotic, never mind the practical impossibilities. So, I just sat back t
Jan 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Describing this book as a "police procedural" is ludicrous unless the police are totally whacked out. This is one of the most amateurish attempts at crime fiction I've ever read. The plot is somewhat interesting but the characters totally unbelievable and the conclusion extremely forced. Paintball booby trapped room- really. Ellis may be a great graphic artist but a crime fiction writer, he is not. Save your money. His other novel "Crooked Little Vein" is even worse- an exaggerated exercise in p ...more
Matthew FitzSimmons
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well that was just a hell of a good time. The man can write.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The police procedural filtered through an eagle's scream:
Madcap-realist, prescription grade,

Put this book in your pipe and smoke it!

That is all.
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pigs and perps alike
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
I don't often reread books, or at least not more than once a decade—there's just so much new stuff!—but when a pristine copy of Warren Ellis' novel Gun Machine fell into my hands in the summer of 2018 (for a dollar, which is a crime in and of itself), I couldn't turn it down. This book had to go back on my list.

I first read Gun Machine in September 2013, shortly after its original publication. I really liked it then (see below), and this second run-through has only deepened my appreciation for E
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid crime/police thriller. Not my usual material, but I was all about expanding my reading horizons in 2013 (when I got this through a GR book perk!!) and it's sat on my shelf ever since. Literally, I've looked at this book almost every day for the last four-and-a-half years.

The general plot structure didn't exactly break new ground here, but it had some interesting moments, clever use of New York City history, and an engaging set of characters I enjoyed spending some time with.

Solid, not spe
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Solid police procedural with noir elements. Have always been a fan of Elllis' work. Wasnt the strongest of his writings. ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A naked old man holding a gun shoots and kills NYPD Detective John Tallow’s partner of five years, and that murder — aside from being devastating and emotionally traumatic for Tallow — leads to the discovery of an apartment full of nothing but guns. Two hundred plus guns, adorning the walls, the floors, all in some mysterious pattern, and each and every one is linked to an unsolved Manhattan murder within the last twenty years. John Tallow is stuck with this career ending case when he should be ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed the story, but found many of the leaps of logic far too coincidental for dramatic crime fiction. I liked the characters. Tallow, Bat and Scarly are an investigative team I'd enjoy visiting with again. I also liked the premise of the hunter and his gun machine of wampum magic.

However, the elements that bring it all together felt forced and lacking. Ellis provides a core team of a detective and two CSIs, but there isn't a lot of detective work done, nor a lot of scientific investigation
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Warren Ellis's stories. I love Transmetropolitan and Planetary in particular. Ellis has a knack for taking familiar pop culture shapes and making them new and remarkable. He's also funny, inventive, and into the bargain he can sneak pathos on you when you aren't looking. Oh, and he does great character and dialogue.

Gun Machine is very, very Ellis. A detective hunting a serial killer in Manhattan could be totally run of the mill, but it isn't. In that respect the book reminds me of Josh Ba
Mike Kleine
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
I can't finish this right now. It started off great. I like Warren Ellis. CROOKED LITTLE VEIN was good. Not so good at parts, but, for the most part, good. GUN MACHINE has a great premise. Sucks you right in. The first 50 pages are very good. But then, it all just sort of fizzles into boredom purgatory. I'm like 80% done with the book. But I've already read 6 others books since GUN MACHINE. And they were all better than GUN MACHINE. Maybe I will finish GUN MACHINE someday. Not right now. I feel ...more
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Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR. His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals, listed as one of Amazon’s Best 100 Books Of 2016.


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