Rob's Reviews > The Gun Seller

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
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's review
Jan 30, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction, comedy

The immediately striking thing about The Gun Seller is that our hero's interior monologue is really desperate for approval. Every other line is a joke, a stammered-spluttered gag with no regard for the rhythm of the story because it's time for another wry aside. I don't know if there are 50 pages to this book if you cut out the wry asides (which are hard to distinguish from the extended set-ups to wry asides).

And, credit to Laurie, most of them are somewhat humourous and many raised a smile (but few much more). It feels a bit like watching a film for the first time with a tedious friend poking fun in the background. It's fair to say that subtracting half of them might have increased the power of the better gags.

As it is, Thomas Lang starts out a tittering combination of Arthur Dent and Sam Spade and gradually gets hemmed into a standard espionage plot that generally fails to surprise. It's hard to stomach the drab neatness of the ending given all the posturing about cynicism and the impossibility of a romantic ending.

In its favour, The Gun Seller bubbles along fairly likeably, and does have some good passages and characters. It's an easy read that nods towards familiar territory. Unfortunately, it just doesn't contain the patented "Douglas Adams plot sidestep" that could have restored a bit of inventiveness to the story. A ripping comedic spoof or a weighty paranoiac thriller would both have required a clever lurch into the unknown to make things work, so it's a shame we get neither and The Gun Seller ends up a slightly dithering affair.
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