Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Gunn Files #1

Culture Shock

Rate this book
Aliens are among us, and Austin, Texas just got a whole lot weirder.

When smart-aleck, down-on-his-luck bounty hunter Anderson Gunn snags his next job, he’s just happy to get the gig. The target he’s chasing may be wanted for murder, but his bills aren’t going to pay themselves.

As it turns out, he probably should've been more selective. When he tracks down Cameron Kovak, the wanted man turns out to be no man at all.

Gunn finds himself face to face with a tentacled creature out of Ridley Scott’s worst nightmare - a baby Cthulhu, wearing his target's skin like a onesie. And that's just the start of it. Aliens have their eyes on us, and Gunn finds himself swept up in their mysterious plans.

Experience the start of The Gunn Files, a sci-fi thrill ride that will have you wondering if aliens truly walk among us. It's perfect for fans of Men in Black and The X-Files.

Also available on Audible, narrated by Oliver Wyman (Monster Hunter International).

228 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 1, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

M.G. Herron

39 books78 followers
M.G. Herron is the author of The Gunn Files, The Translocator Trilogy, and other stories of science fiction and fantasy.

His work is published both independently and through publishing houses such as Audible Studios and Aethon Books. Altogether Herron’s novels have sold tens of thousands of copies.

Based in sunny Austin, Texas, MG’s alter ego, Matt, works for a product design agency as a content strategist. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their dog, hiking, rock climbing, and making up stories.

Learn more at mgherron.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
86 (44%)
4 stars
67 (34%)
3 stars
28 (14%)
2 stars
8 (4%)
1 star
3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
Profile Image for Zain.
1,378 reviews141 followers
October 31, 2022
Trouble Up Ahead.

Anderson Gunn is a bounty hunter. He is searching for Cameron Kovak, a bail jumper.

He chases Kovak into a building and up on the roof. There he meets Elakstra, an off-worlder (otherwise known as alien).

When Elakstra immobilize and attack him, he is helped by Dyna and Kilos, two undercover agents of The Federation.

After Elakstra gets away, the two aliens, Dyna and Kilos, talk Gunn into helping them catch the alien, Elakstra.

If things were hectic before, they become a lot more so than ever. Chaos reigns.

The author uses a lot of humor and confusion to tell this story. And it works. The pages flyby. Chapters are short and the book is a delight.

There’s enough carrying on to earn four stars. ✨
Profile Image for Meenaz Lodhi.
921 reviews70 followers
April 7, 2020
What a mesmerising read, I was hooked from the beginning! The narrative is so fluid with a pragmatic approach, the easy going personality of the main character in first person is a fresh look into his living style and his outlook towards life, a great character and world building, the story starts immediately with the a case, making the combination of both his life and plot very captivating. Pride, stubbornness kept him going, with help from his best friends, he makes a mind blowing discovery! I was snagged from the beginning, fast paced, with a witty dialogue, gritty, it kept me up till the wee hours, had to finish it to know how it all ended. Looking forward to read more about how the story progresses in Overdose #2.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews257 followers
July 30, 2021

Good setup for the series. Has the vibe of Men in Black.
Profile Image for Troy Osgood.
Author 43 books79 followers
March 20, 2020
Excellent modern world sci-fi. Fun with consistent and entertaining characters. Can't wait for the next book.
103 reviews1 follower
March 16, 2020
This book is a touch of Men in Black with a bounty hunter. Anderson Gunn will not stop till he has caught his guy, even if he is an alien. I enjoyed the book, the characters are likeable and the plot is good. Looking forward to the next book in this series.
819 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2020
A very enjoyable, light-hearted read with great characters and an unusual plot. As usual, this author has made a very readable book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to the next book!
678 reviews9 followers
April 7, 2020
Not your average sci fi or mystery book. A tale of aliens that have been living on earth but were clocked to look like humans. A bounty hunter gets to become an alien hunter in a very entertaining read. This one will keep your interest all the way to the end.
Profile Image for Steve Beaulieu.
36 reviews6 followers
April 18, 2020
Fantastic book. Great author. Lovable cast. Worth a full series for sure.
Profile Image for Jason.
836 reviews
July 10, 2020
Anderson Gunn is a down on his luck Bounty Hunter. He has his own business in Austin Texas and gets his bounties from a friend called Alek. Alek notices that Gunn isn’t doing great, so offers him a job, a simple one, but at the same time, a bit harder, to hunt down and bring in a bail jumper, who is now wanted for Murder, his name is Cameron Kovak.
Gunn, being desperate for money (He has just had a note saying he missed his rent, and bills are due, and things are not good), jumps at the opportunity, as it as a $10K price tag on it (Bail was for $100K, and the person who brings them in gets 10%).
Alek, who is worried about his friend, also sends over his accountant, who happens to be a stunning blonde called Annabelle Summers, and between a lot of flirting, she actually does sort out his money. Whilst doing that, there is a sighting of Kovak, so Gunn leaves her and goes to the scene of the Murder.
Whilst there, he runs into another old friend, a Detective, Sheila Gonzalez, and you find out they are good friends, and there is some amusing banter. You quickly work out that the Author is great at developing his characters through conversations, giving you a lot of background story about his main character, as well as his supporting characters, whilst at the same time, developing the story, all done with clever, rich dialogue, that is fun to read.
We learn that things are weird at this scene, and it is not a ditch, but a crater, and whilst there, Gunn sees two very strange looking detectives, one an odd-looking albino, and the other does not look right? As he is looking at them, they turn to stair at him, and he turns away quickly, and when he turns back, they have literally vanished, making Gunn wonder what is happening?
Without giving too much away (don’t worry, everything above is just general stuff), Gunn does catch up to Kovak, and things go horribly wrong, because he kind of has tentacles, and a 20ft tongue. And just to really freak him out, the other two strange Detectives are there.
And this is where we go from a Mystery-Thriller with a ‘Bruce Willis’ type Bail Bondsman/Bounty Hunter, to a Sci-Fi story.
Gunn is hunting a Fugitive alright, just not from this planet.
Kovak is not Kovak, (and I am not going into any details here as I don’t want to give too much away), but an alien (duh, obviously, I just said that..Sorry…), but so are the other two Detectives. They are intergalactic Bounty Hunters.
The story ramps up from like an 8 to a 16 then (out of 10), as Gunn doesn’t go down the rabbit hole, he is dragged down it. He finds out that there are Aliens Earth, and there are all sorts of things going on that he (and everyone else) has no clue about. The world building here is just exceptional, Herron has gone to incredible depth to create this ‘underworld’ that is hidden from Humanity, and provide it with a plethora of different things. I again, don’t want to give any real details and spoil all the fun.
And that is what it is, you have this really great thriller story, as Gunn chases this dangerous fugitive (and it isn’t just a simple bail jumper, stakes have been raised and there are now lives on the line, including ones close to Gunn), but during the story, we get to meet all this really brilliant Characters. Herron is an outstanding Character Author, creating all these different characters to fill out his story, giving it so much depth, with a lot of really great (and realistic) dialogue, that brings the story up to a whole new level.
His descriptive work, of his world, his characters, and most of all, his intense action scenes is masterful, leaving you sitting there with your mouth open at times as you read, in a silent ‘Wow’, or ‘Awww’ as something incredible happens and he gives you this compelling and extraordinary description.
This is one of those books that you finish, and as you are finishing the last few lines, you are already finding something to buy the next book, or when you went to get a drink earlier (if you stopped reading of course), you bought it when got your coffee or tea (probably coffee, so you could stay awake a bit longer to read more!)
If you want a brilliant read, that covers just about every genre (except kids – children should not read this, but I’m guessing you already knew that!! *GRIN*), there is even romance, then this is the book. I have read some great books this year, but this is one of the best Sci-Fi Action Thrillers I have read this year, and I am already into the sequel “Overdose”.
You won’t be disappointed!
Profile Image for Karen Siddall.
Author 1 book52 followers
June 18, 2020
Anderson Gunn is a bounty hunter in Austin, Texas. With an office down on East Sixth Street, he is smack in the middle of the “Keep Austin Weird” culture of the capital city, and it is his kind of place. However, a series of financial burdens, including paying off his mother’s final medical bills, are threatening his solvency and ability to keep his office open and his head above water. So when a long-time client, bail bondsman Alek Ludwig, sends some lucrative work his way, one of Ludwig’s clients has skipped a court date and is suspected of killing a coworker at the power company, Gunn is highly motivated to bring in his man.

At the scene of the coworker’s murder, Gunn runs into an old friend who is also interested in the missing man, Detective Sheila Gonzalez. She doesn’t want Gunn meddling in her case but still confirms some of the information he needs to continue his search. While at the site, Gunn catches a glimpse of two other detective types, but when he goes for a better look, they’ve disappeared. As Gunn investigates the skip’s whereabouts, he realizes he’s being tailed by the two odd detectives. When they show up at his office, he discovers that Austin is legitimately more weird than anyone ever imagined. The two are alien peacekeepers posing as humans as are hundreds of others in the city where they’ve come to vacation or live, hiding in plain sight, and they are after the alien that has taken over the body/skin of the man Gunn is pursuing.

Part detective novel, part Men-In-Black-style sci-fi story, Culture Shock was a fun page-turner of a book. The Austin setting is perfect, and the characters that populate the city bring the feel of the place right to the page. They were charming “people,” and I quickly began to care about what was going to happen to them. This book was so good I immediately picked up the next in the series.

I recommend this book for readers that like fun sci-fi and those that would enjoy an alien element in their mystery.

1,596 reviews
April 15, 2020
This review is for the audio version... that hasn't been listed on the Goodreads page!
I really had a great time listening to this intense, adrenaline boosted tale! The story jumps right into the action when our protagonist, a bounty hunter named Anderson Gunn, takes on the job of finding Cameron Kovak, a runner who's wanted for murder. There's hazard pay on top of his usual percentage, so Gunn is more than willing to take on this high-stakes job, especially since he's facing an empty bank account along with more bills than he can shake a stick at. But, the first thing Gunn has to do is to get over his "culture shock" when he discovers that his perp might not be human! Furthermore, Gunn's not the only hunter competing for the prize. Seriously, when Gunn looks hard enough, he finds that there is a lot more WEIRD out there than he had ever imagined! It's a complex mess, and Gunn has to try to renegotiate his contract so he still comes out ahead!
I immediately fell in love with Anderson Gunn's snarky wit, and the kinds of friends he keeps... So grab the story and be ready to run like Hell through the streets of Austin... it's that or be left for dead in this edge-of-your-seat SciFi, Men in Black kinda' yarn!
Oliver Wyman happens to have been the perfect choice to narrate the adventure! His voice performance is the AwesomeSauce that perfectly accentuated MG Herron's wonderful story!
This is a Must Have for your library... Don't miss out on it!!!
August 13, 2020
Throwback to Saturday Matinee SciFi Fun

Sooo...it is early August 2020. There is a pandemic, countrywide protest, political strife, and the worse unemployment in living memory. I NEEDED AN ESCAPE...and M.G. Herron's first book of this new series "Culture Shock," provided exactly that!

This is a quick book. Plot is fun, moves fast, story driven, likable characters, good alien villian, and takes place in my home city, Austin TX. Anderson Gunn is the bounty hunter protagonist who is in financial straits and needs a catch a skipped bounty suspect for a payday to keep his head above fiscal waters. This is a light hearted tale, that pulls you along like an old time Saturday SciFi matinee. This is not Solaris, Dune, Interstellar, or The Martian. Science and physics are kept to a bare minimal. This is all about the FUN of the genre. Long time friends, pizza parlor owning alien, a thriving extra terrestrial night club scene, large kitty cats with two hearts, and of course obligatory SciFi...... TENTACLES!!!! If you ever spent time in Austin there is an unofficial slogan here, "Keep Austin Weird." Culture Shock by Herron does just that!

I debated between 4 or 5 Stars. I decided to give it 5...as it helped me forget about all the items that presently are with us in this not so fun 2020.
Profile Image for John.
219 reviews
April 29, 2020
This book has it all! Love that it all took place in Austin (I've been lucky enough to have visited many times and could picture the story in my mind). Aliens, I mean come on, Aliens! The characters, OMG, so good! Anderson Gunn the bounty hunter shows more emotion than just some tough guy, which I found so engaging. The secret alien society, yes please and thank you.
I thought I knew who one of the characters was (someone who writes a UFO based "blog" I'll call it) and damn, I was wrong, such great twists and turns.
Fight scenes and the detail in each one really helps you create that mental image while reading, which I LOVE!

Truly loved this story and every character in this book is so detailed and relatable (IMO) that you will just not want to put this book down.
Profile Image for Steve.
1,179 reviews28 followers
May 26, 2020
Picked this up as a change of pace, as I have historically liked a good gumshoe, and the aliens added some potential zing. Alas, Elmore Leonard (with aliens) this is not.

Problem was, I didn't like the MC. I'm sure the author was going for something more sophisticated than obnoxious and irresponsible, but that's how he came across to me. Add to that a story that while competently written overall didn't have that je ne sais quoi that makes it work for me, leads us to the 3 stars I gave it. Honestly, the overall quality of the writing is the only thing that kept it from being a 2, as I nearly didn't finish it.

I give the rationale above as other people liked this a lot more than I did, so if you're looking at my review as an outlier you should have the context.
Profile Image for V.L. Stuart.
Author 3 books5 followers
May 30, 2020
Culture Shock by M.G. Herron is a sort-of combination of Sam Spade detective story and “Men-in-Black”. A mix-up of hard detective and alien-on-the-loose-Texas thriller.

Andy Gunn is a skip tracer working for a bail bondsman and his latest assignment is to track down a man fleeing from a DWI court date. Except the man is dead and, in true MIB fashion, an alien is now on the rampage dressed in his skin. Turns out, he isn’t the only alien in Austin, Texas, and Andy is going to have his hands full what with alien peacekeepers needing his help.

This was a good tale that piggybacked on MIB and detective fiction in an easy way. A good book for the beach or a rainy day.
Profile Image for Jill Jones.
50 reviews3 followers
February 14, 2022
Loved it!!

This book is different from what I usually read. I love funny space operas with alot of action and bad language..lol. That being said this book was not that. It was a mystery set on earth but the main guy finds out that Austin is full of aliens hiding in plain sight. Even people he knows are secretly aliens. He gets mixed up with Peacekeepers, basically alien FBI agents of sorts. They recruit him to help track down and kill a nasty octopus like bad guy intent on making Earth a haven for more of his kind. The story just gets better from there. There is even a bit of a love story in the mix. I loved it and cant wait to read the next book!
Profile Image for Markus.
13 reviews
May 4, 2020
A story about aliens that manages to transcend taking place in Austin, TX

I suppose, by now, transplants from Los Angeles inhabiting an Austin landscape is ubiquitous if not cliche and, at first blush I didn't think the Dashiell Hammett meets Men in Black mashup was going to work but I seem to have been pleasantly surprised. In any case, I thought I ought to write a quick review of the first book before diving into the second one...
1 review
May 6, 2020
Culture Shock was a captivating and entertaining read from end to end. With good plot progression, character development, entertaining imagery, and M.G. Herron's encapsulating writing style, this story was one that was pretty hard to put down. Furthermore, the companion audiobook voiced by Oliver Wyman provides even more depth and life to the story and characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Culture Shock and am looking forward to future developments in The Gunn Files.
Profile Image for Robert Defrank.
Author 6 books14 followers
September 26, 2020
A fast, fun, exciting Men in Black inspired story, where the alien police enforcers decide to hire some local talent in the form of a down-on-his-luck but skilled bounty hunter based in Texas. Anderson Gunn is used to dealing with dangerous dirtbags and red tape, and he find that whether you’re dealing with people, cyborgs, lizard people or tentacled entities from beyond, some things are universal. The story is set in Austin, Texas, and there is a strong sense of place, and the
Profile Image for Ed A.
160 reviews2 followers
April 16, 2020
Good start

It took a bit to warm up to our hero Anderson Gunn. The line “... wallow in my bottomless guilt later.” describes our bounty hunter and why it took some time for me get into the story. Maybe a bit too much wallowing. However he starts to grow up and the story moves right along. Looking forward to the release of Book 2.
April 17, 2020

This is a really well thought out storyline with characters you will easily identify with and lots of twists and turns and an ending you will not see coming until the last sentence! Like I said "WOW!!!" I highly reccomend this book, and I am off to buy the next one in the series!
Profile Image for The Mysterious Reader.
3,581 reviews55 followers
April 19, 2020
MG Herron’s Culture Shock (The Gunn Files, Book 1) is much more than a first contact mystery thriller. It’s Men in Black on steroids. Bounty hunter Anderson Gunn has no idea what he’s in for in his latest job, but the X Files guys would know what’s going on. This is freakin’ urban PI sci-fi mashup perfection that is totally fun, and highly recommended.
446 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2020
This book promised to be a fun romp, and though it did borrow liberally from such things as MIB and Star Wars, it delivered on its promise.

The characters were well enough written to carry the story and the plot, though not delivering any surprises, we indeed an enjoyable romp.

While the story was in no way a cliff hanger, it did set things up for later books. Well worth the read.
210 reviews1 follower
June 1, 2020
I took a shot at what looked like a fun read. It was better, so much better!

This has been a fun read. I liked the Keep Austin Weird flow. The book is a fast paced fun with a great story line and great characters. I already have the next two books locked and loaded, ready to read. I will most likely check out the rest of your books. Enjoy I'll review the next book soon.
Profile Image for Charl.
1,285 reviews5 followers
June 1, 2020
nice start to the series. Sort of a realistic "Men in Black", without the MIB itself. Aliens live here because Earth isn't a member of the Federation, we're too backward to be contacted. A murderous alien comes to Earth, Gunn stumbles across him and the Federation officers tracking him.

I enjoyed it, and I'll definitely be reading the next one.
353 reviews3 followers
May 3, 2020
Very enjoyable!!!

Outstanding story, lots of action and a bit of romance. MG Herron writes like a typical 1940's detective story style. BUT then you get aliens along with outer space alien cops. Such a surprise, I'm still laughing.
Profile Image for Keith Kavitz.
3 reviews
May 15, 2020
Entertaining read

This my first read of a M. G. Herron book and I am looking forward to reading more. I particularly enjoy the bits of sarcastic humor injected with the action. Glad I chose to read Culture Shock.
438 reviews
April 18, 2020
A bounty is a bounty, right?

Anderson Gunn is a bounty hunter under the gun. With money troubles and a skip to trace, what’s he supposed to do when the perp has tentacles ?
578 reviews4 followers
April 20, 2020
Here's another great unsolved mystery of the universe. How the hell did this ever get a 4+ rating? It might have been better as a graphic novel or Saturday morning cartoon.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.