Recognize the name? Yes, it’s Dr. House! Well, the actor who played Dr. House in the TV show House – Hugh Laurie. Didn’t know he is also an author? Neither did I, so you’re not alone there. In fact, he has a number of books to his name. The Gun Seller was published long before he became a HOUSEhold name (oh, that was bad), but that same dry comedic wit shines right through in this international spy thriller. Soho Press | 1997 | Hardcover | 343 pp
Thomas Lang is a good guy with a gun. Taking odd jobs here and there in security and brute force, he’s propositioned for an assassination one day by an American. Although Lang is a tough guy, he’s not a killer and promptly turns down the American and his thousands of dollars. Being the good guy that he is, Lang decides to pay the target a visit and warn him that he’s been marked. But when he gets there, it seems that another assassin was already sent to do the job Lang turned down, and there’s a scuffle.
Before he knows it, Lang is pulled headfirst into a rogue operation involving rogue CIA agents, unwitting agents from the UK’s Department of Defence, an American industrialist and his ‘charming’ daughter, and an American arms dealer. With no way out, he finds himself trapped in a government created terrorist plot to create havoc for the sole purpose of creating demand on a new line of deadly helicopters. Operation The Graduate has begun.
The writing is cheeky and the style is: ‘Naked Gun’ silly. As soon as I started reading The Gun Seller, Leslie Nielsen (Inspector Frank Drebin from Naked Gun) jumped into my mind and narrated the entire book for me, much to my chagrin. It happened right in the beginning when I came upon these lines:
“She just played with it slowly, and then pointed a pair of grey eyes at me.”
I say a pair. I mean her pair. She didn’t get a pair of someone else’s out from a drawer and point them at me.”
Yeah – so it’s like that. That kind of humor.
It does get better as it goes along. The inner monologues are a bit heavy on the wackiness. But the actual dialogue and Lang’s interaction with other characters can be downright hilarious in some cases. And at the end – it’s all bravado in a cinematic and explosive finale while the reader is left to figure out what Lang has up his sleeve at the same time the characters do.
Overall, I rate The Gun Seller as a solid beach read.
The Gun Seller
by Hugh Laurie