The story follows the wayward character Thomas Lang, a hired gun that is a lot nicer than he seems. When he is approached to assassinate a businessman he decides instead to warn the target. No good deed ever goes unpunished however and he quickly finds his life spiraling into increasingly dangerous situations.
The natural charm and casual wit of Laurie clearly shines through and reading the story you can easy imagine him narrating it to you himself — there is so much of the author’s personality contained. The protagonist also shares some of the author’s charms and is a likeable, engaging fellow. Thomas is also cynical, sarcastic and quite self-centered — although not at the same level as House. He’s part spy, part hard-boiled gumshoe and part anti-hero.
The writing is great and deeper that it first appears with lots of little quips:
“Having a vote once every four years is not the same thing as democracy.”
There is also a quite brilliant bit about the way you should break someone’s arm:
“Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm.
Right or left, doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to break it, because if you don’t…well, that doesn’t matter either. Let’s just say bad things will happen if you don’t.
Now, my question goes like this: do you break the arm quickly — snap, whoops, sorry, here let me help you with that improvised splint — or do you drag the whole business out for a good eight minutes, every now and then increasing the pressure in the tiniest of increments, until the pain becomes pink and green and hot and cold and altogether unbearable?
Well exactly. Of course, the right thing to do, the only thing to do, is to get it over with as quickly as possible. Break the arm, ply the brandy, be a good citizen. There can be no other answer.
Unless unless unless.
What if you were to hate the person on the other end of the arm? I mean really, really hate them.”
The prose is witty and charming just like the author. Pacing is steady, there is little wasted space and the story moves forward with little attention given to retrospection or exposition. As a result it’s an easy, enjoyable, effortless read and one that doesn’t take long to get through.
The Gun Seller is wildly entertaining, light-hearted and one of the funniest books I’ve read in quite some time, highly recommended and is definitely worth the space on your bookshelf.
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