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The Gun Seller: A Novel

The Gun Seller: A Novel

Written by Hugh Laurie

Narrated by Simon Prebble


The Gun Seller: A Novel

Written by Hugh Laurie

Narrated by Simon Prebble

ratings:
4/5 (57 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Released:
Oct 16, 2012
ISBN:
9781611749731
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

Cold-blooded murder just isn’t Thomas Lang’s cup of tea. Offered a bundle to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts to warn the intended victim instead—a good deed that soon takes a bad turn. Quicker than he can down a shot of his favorite whiskey, Lang is bashing heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femme fatales.

 Up against rogue CIA agents, wannabe terrorists, and an arms dealer looking to make a high-tech killing, Lang’s out to save the leggy lady he has come to love . . . and prevent an international bloodbath to boot.

Released:
Oct 16, 2012
ISBN:
9781611749731
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

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Reviews

What people think about The Gun Seller

3.8
57 ratings / 56 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Long on humour and a little short on cognitive plot, this is what a Naked Gun movie would be like if the writers were more literate...and British.
  • (3/5)
    I really enjoyed this; it deserves to be turned into a movie. And that's not a backhanded compliment--it just seems like it ought to be a movie.
  • (3/5)
    I'd been meaning to read this for some time now and I'm glad I finally got around to it. A twisted, confusing and funny tale of a man caught in the wrong place at the wrong time who finds himself stumbling into a much larger world.

    The book has a strong start but towards the middle it really starts bogging down under it's own weight. I wasn't sure it would be able to lift itself up before the end but in the final few chapters it manages to get up and all come together.

    A good novel from someone who does better as an actor this book could have benefited greatly from a trim. In the end I though it was still worth the read and if Hugh Laurie gets around to writing another book I'll give it a try.
  • (4/5)
    Sometimes it seems that a few people are inordinately blessed with an abundance of talent while the rest of us just muddle along trying to fake it. Hugh Laurie is one of those so blessed.Born in Oxford, he went, of course, to Cambridge, joining Selwyn College, the same college his father attended. (This was after he attended Eton, that very private public school) His father represented Britain in the 1948 London Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the coxless (pairs) rowing. Hugh naturally took up rowing at Cambridge, did very well in it, winning multiple ribbons and awards. He still belongs to the Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. (As an aside, shortly after writing this paragraph I picked up a mystery revolving around the death of a rower at the Leander Club. Quite a coincidence, except that as any mystery reader knows, there are no coincidences. And now, back to Hugh.)While at Cambridge, he joined the Footlights Club where he met Emma Thompson who introduced him to Stephen Fry. (Can you just imagine the rehearsals these three put together?) Laurie and Fry co-wrote an annual review, "The Cellar Tapes" which the three performed in Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, winning the first Perrier Comedy Award. It was picked up for a run in London's West End theater district as well as a television show.Laurie did not graduate Cambridge, but moved to London and pursued a career in television, stage and film with his writing partner Stephen Fry. Some of their best known work includes "Blackadder", "A Bit of Fry and Laurie," and "Jeeves and Wooster," based on the P.G. Wodehouse work. They also did work on the concert stage and Laurie has appeared in films, including a brief role in Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility." In 2004, he began his role as Dr. Gregory House in Fox's "House" television series.Musically, he has mastered the piano, saxophone, drums, guitar, and harmonica. He is also a vocalist and keyboard player, has performed at jazz festivals worldwide and released his album, Let Them Talk in 2011.And he can write.There are those who don't consider The Gun Seller as much a mystery as a parody of a mystery. Myself, I thought of it as P.G. Wodehouse meets Robert Ludlum. Which is not a surprise since Laurie admits the powerful influence that Wodehouse has had on his writing. The plot is as complex as any that Ludlum dreamed up. Christopher Buckley, in the New York Times describes it as:"the most engaging literary melange des genres since George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman arrived on the scene. Or as they'd say in a Hollywood pitch meeting: ''Bertie Wooster meets James Bond.''"Thomas Lang lives in London, picking up the occasional job as bodyguard or mercenary that uses the skills he acquired as a member of the Scots Guard. The Gun Seller opens with Lang considering how to properly 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 howlingly unbearable?"He carries on for more paragraphs, debating the right answer and exceptions to the right answer. His description of the arm to arm combat he is engaged in includes gems like this one:"I backed away from him, dancing on my toes like a very old St Bernard, and looked around for a weapon."The novel continues in this conversational tone, narrator to reader, as Thomas is drawn into a conspiracy involving terrorists, the CIA, the Ministry of Defense and international arms dealers. And just like a Ludlum novel, it is difficult to describe the plot without giving away too much of the action. Locations include of course, the Swiss Alps, London, Amsterdam and Casablanca. The bad guys are very, very bad and beautiful women are either very good or very bad or both.Mostly, the book is simply fun. And according to the Buckley review,"There's enough neat gadgetry here to satisfy the hard-core techno-weenie, while at the same time amusing the techno-wimp. Mr. Laurie has done his homework, but knows just where to stop, as in this description of the British missile that shoots down helicopters: 'The system is made up of two handy units, the first being a sealed launch canister, containing the missile, and the second being the semi-automatic-line-of-sight-guidance system, which has a lot of very small, very clever, very expensive electronic stuff inside it.''"Written in 1996 some of the politics do appear a little dated today, but also strangely prescient. While today's terrorist are no longer European as they were in the past, the international gun trade and its ties to the military of the US and the UK are today far more believable to most British and American citizens than they were 17 years ago. There was talk of a Hollywood adaption, and a sequel that was unfortunately never written. That makes me sad.
  • (4/5)
    Incredibly funny and over-the-top version of a spy novel, written by none other than the lovely Hugh Laurie. One of the back quotes in my copy compares it to the Naked Gun movies, and this is a fair comparison - with a good critique of the military-industrial complex thrown in.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed Mr. Laurie's wit and dry humor. The plot was interesting enough to keep my interest. Overall, light reading. Not heavy on technical details or character exploration. I agree on the premise and have the same cynicism about the arms industry, so I wasn't blown away by the message. Good summer reading.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed the descriptive writing style of this novel, and I received the audiobook version. I really do wish that it had been read by Hugh Laurie, but the voice actor does a great job, so I got over my disappointment rather quickly. This is a wonderful and fast paced novel with a lot of vivid imagery and description in it. I think if I had been reading it I might have glazed over during some of the rather descriptions, but as an audio book, I enjoyed it quite thoroughly.
  • (5/5)
    This book was amazing. I mean, okay, the writing was not award-winning prose, but it's not trying to be! I couldn't begin to count the number of times I laughed out loud or a huge grin spread itself over my face. It was just a riot. And it was a riot on top of a gripping suspense-thriller. I have to give this 5 stars. I maybe shouldn't, because the book itself is technically not that stunning, but I had such a fun time reading this, and I thought it started out fabulously and the end was perfect, so I just have to give it full stars!
  • (4/5)
    This novel was easier for me to "read" by hearing it than it was when I attempted to read it. Perhaps it's the style of story which belongs more entertaining, but this is a spy spoof in the tradition of some great spy spoofs (Graham Greene comes to mind), and is highly enjoyable. There have been reports since its original publication of a sequel, but these seem to be exaggerations since Laurie has not written one. I'd enjoy another episode.
  • (4/5)
    The narration by Simon Prebble is excellent. As one would expect from Hugh Laurie, there is plenty of sarcastic humor. A spoof of the military/spy thriller novel, a bit over the top for my taste, but still fun.
  • (3/5)
    Picked this up from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers group. I was intrigued that Laurie had written a novel in this vein and decided to take a look. I quite enjoyed it. Not since HitchHikers Guide have I found that sense of straightforward (yet backhanded at the same time) humor that is displayed here. I have read international spy thrillers in the past but none with this enjoyably skewed sensibility. Recommended for a light read.
  • (5/5)
    I listened to the audiobook version read by Simon Prebble. I was really impressed by this book. I know some of Hugh Laurie's earlier comedy sketches and roles, and I enjoy his sense of humor. I started this book with some trepidation, fearing it would be one of those cases where a famous person who is not a writer tried his hand at writing, and failed miserably.That was not the case here. This book was brilliant. it was hilarious. The plot twists and turns kept me interested. (This would have been a real 'page-turner' for me, except that I was listening to the audiobook, and therefore found myself making excuses to keep listening instead of doing other things.)As the book was wrapping up, I was getting this feeling of dread, not only that the book would be ending soon, as I was really enjoying it, but also that I saw the pat happy ending on the horizon. I thought: oh, please, don't ruin it with that ending.And Laurie didn't. He changed what you thought was going to happen at the end. Sure, it was a bit of a happy ending (I'm not going to spoil anything here), but at the same time, it didn't end up quite the way one expects for the standard Happy Ending with all the Hollywood Trimmings.I enjoyed this story a lot. The audiobook version is worth a listen. When I first started listening, i was disappointed that Laurie wasn't reading it himself. But Prebble is so good that, after a few minutes, you're glad it's not Laurie reading it. Prebble really is outstanding.
  • (4/5)
    Thomas Lang somehow manages to get himself entangled in a high-stakes game of intrigue in this tale which comes across as almost a spoof of the spy genre. Lang himself is absolutely hysterical - I laughed aloud many times. His random commentary just tickled me. As for the story, I liked that I didn't always know what was going to happen next, without feeling like everything was being pulled out of thin air. And, as usual, I am having a terrible time thinking of things to say about a book I really enjoyed, except to say that I enjoyed it. I wish Laurie would write more fiction.
  • (4/5)
    Hugh Laurie's first book is a spoof to the spy novel.Though the result is rather clever, some might be annoyed by the tired old English cynicism used as it's narrative, as Laurie likes to drag out the punch line for all it's worth.The audio version is read by Simon Prebble, who sounds as if he's an expert lecturer describing hideous violence to polite society.At times, his smug delivery of minute details will have listeners wishing he'd get to the point. There are, however, a few suspenseful moments in the book; one just has to wait a while, and that while will become a long while.If you enjoy Robert Ludlum thrillers, but wished they were a bit more flippant, then don't let shadowy critics conspire to make you miss this one. After all, you might benefit from this very cheeky terrorist's plot.
  • (4/5)
    Out this year from HighBridge Audio is the CD version of “The Gun Seller,” written by Hugh Laurie in the 1990’s, before he became star of “House.” Anyone who has seen Laurie on “Blackadder,” “Jeeves and Wooster” or “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” know that he’s a funny man, and know the type of humor he goes in for. “The Gun Seller,” while outwardly a spy thriller, is full of that sort of clever word play and acerbic commentary. Think of P.G. Wodehouse writing a James Bond thriller. Laurie’s protagonist, Thomas Lang, is an ex-Army officer with little visible means of support, who becomes involved with a CIA plot, international terrorists, an evil arms dealer, and various lovely women. A “good man,” Lang subverts the plots of the evil-doers while ostensibly working for them. Some of the plot turns are (intentionally) preposterous and Lang shows super-human recuperative powers from a variety of assaults that would have left anyone else in hospital for a month, as befits the genre. It’s generally a steady romp from one harrowing adventure to the next, with the added feature of Laurie’s wry, literate prose. The reader, Simon Prebble, does a fine job of the generally first person narration, with voice changes that befit the other characters’ dialogue.
  • (4/5)
    Thomas Lang is drawn into a web of intrigue as he tries to wriggle every which way to extract himself. When there is no other option, he commits himself, and now beware, said the fly to the spider. This was the audio version, read by Simon Prebble, who is superb.I'm not sure why one review called this a "spoof of the spy genre." I thought it a good mystery story with shades of noir and lots of laughs. Romance, intrigue, humour and action, a perfect blend! I could say I was offended by the portrayal of Americans, but no. With recent events it is all too believable. Please someone, tell me Mr. Laurie is going to write another book, and preferably one with Thomas Lang in it.
  • (3/5)
    As part of LibraryThing's wonderful Early Reviewers program, I was able to get a copy of Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller. You probably know Hugh Laurie as "House", from the TV show. He's also a musician (has a blues CD out), and, apparently, a novelist as well. I was initially surprised to find it was an audio book; I thought it was going to be a physical copy of the book. This is actually my first audiobook, I've never done one before, so take my review with a grain of salt. Thomas Lang is a former Scots Guard member. Offered money to assassinate someone, he declines, and proceeds to warn the target. From there, things start to go wrong in a no-good-deed-goes-unpunished sort of way. The early part of the book feel very much like a typical gumshoe novel, there's beautiful women, guns, spies, all the trappings of a good adventure novel.Simon Prebble provides the voice, a great "upper crust" English accent, which is fun. Laurie's plotting is also fun. Thomas Lang is the wisecracking type. About every third sentence has some kind of snark, joke, sarcasm or witticism. I found it amusing for about 3 chapters, but when in the 4th chapter of a book, every other sentence has some bad joke in it, it becomes a bit much. I wasn't quite sure whether this was intended tongue-in-cheek or not, but in the end it became tiresome. This may be due to the audiobook format; in written form it might not have been annoying. Lang tends to talk in parenthetical remarks - I think there was one sentence that had a parenthetical remark inside a parenthetical remark. It was often hard to follow in audio form - again, it may simply be the Laurie's style doesn't translate well to audiobooks. In the end I think this is a book I'd rather read than listen to, but it was entertaining.
  • (3/5)
    Having started out solidly, if typically for this kind of story, the plot went off the rails and got lost. Lots of players, stilted, stagey scenarios and dangling plot devices. As far as the writing went it was tough to pin down as a serious work because of the highly affected idiomatic style reminiscent of Wodehouse. The trick Laurie didn't seem to understand is that for each highly crafted little gem Wodehouse gave us, he padded and corralled and gave it plenty of room so a reader could fully absorb and savor it. Laurie's, while some of them were good, came too thick and fast. Using a gun analogy it's as if Wodehouse used a revolver and Laurie a mini-gun. Spray and pray. Another thing that bothered me was the tone and how it changed so much. I'm still not sure if this was supposed to be a straight up noirish spy story, a pastiche or a parody. At times it's funny in a slick-one-liner meets slapstick kind of way, and then it's trying to force a political angle really hard and seriously; make sure you know this, Reader, Hugh Laurie is a pacifist and doesn't even remotely approve of anyone buying so much as a BB gun, much less the US government making all kinds of shenanigans in order to fuel its war machine. Yes, it was written many years before 9/11, and so it felt a bit sentimental with regard to terrorists and how they might be manipulated. If it is a spoof or parody as the descriptions say, I think it is too self-aware to pull it off. Like some little kid constantly nagging his mother to watch him pull some stunt - hey mom, are watching? Did you see that? Did you see what I did? Did you see? Are you watching? Ugh, enough already, we get it, you think spy stories are funny and you've spent a lot of time with a thesaurus.Insofar as the narration went, I think Prebble is very good at his job, but maybe Laurie himself should have narrated. He's the only Brit who can do an American accent worth a damn.
  • (4/5)
    I'll give The Gun Seller 4 out of 5 stars mostly for the humor. Written by Hugh Laurie—and if you're familiar with the man's work pre-dating his role as Gregory House you'll fully understand how funny he really is—it's mostly what I expected. Barely a page went by without some line that had me at least chuckling if not outright LOL'ing. In fact, I was going to open to the first few pages and pick a line to share here, but there were simply too many. Fun, fun read.And not a bad story. I'm not an expert in the political espionage thriller genre (far from it) but it seemed plausible to me, certainly exciting, had some good action sequences nicely fleshed out. I could follow it fairly easily. And you could tell when things were really getting serious because the dry humor (humour?) simmered down on the back burner.Good writing? Fair. Judged by that alone I might have given it only 3/5 stars. Nothing grand, but mostly solid. Couple points I stumbled over. The tense shifted a few times toward the end (past to present and back to past again) which sort of threw me off. And at least one section (again, toward the end) felt a lot like telling, not showing. When I hit things like that, they're like speed bumps which slow/stop my reading and interrupt the flow. But I got back on track quickly and moved on.Now, since I got this book in audio format (from the Early Reviewers program) I'll say a few words about the audio book. Good quality. I've listened to a fair few audio books in my day, and some have obvious technical problems (especially when you can tell the transition from one recording session to another by a change in volume or the reader's voice). Hardly any of that here. Almost seamless. The reader, Simon Prebble, did a great job conveying the humor. I suspect that you'd need a British sense of timing to pull off a British humorist's writing, and Prebble certainly did well. He conjured up a number of voices and accents to portray the various characters. He really shone with the European accents. When it came to the few American accents, they all sounded the same (I'm guessing Prebble is British) except the one Minnesotan accent which sounded like a troop of Norwegian actors doing a recreation of the movie Fargo (i.e., I'm from America and have even lived near Minnesota and nobody there talks or sounds like that at all). Minor complaint. The audio quality was mostly stellar.
  • (3/5)
    This is a fairly good book. I was quite enthusiastic about it during parts of the book but there were a few too many slow parts. Considering it was written by a famous actor, it's exceedingly good. But judged solely on its own merits, this book is good but not great.
  • (3/5)
    As with many of those who have posted reviews here, I pretty much only read this book because it was written by Hugh Laurie. That being said, I was entertained. Enough said.
  • (4/5)
    Finding out about the existence of a Hugh Laurie novel 15 years after the book was first published is something I am not proud of. As a fan of “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and “Blackadder”, I have no idea why I didn’t check earlier if Laurie ever wrote a book! I did check Stephen Fry and read “The Book of General Ignorance”, so why not Laurie? I bow my head in shame for overlooking this book for so long.Anyway, needless to say, I enjoyed “The Gun Seller” very much. It made me laugh out loud several times, not an easy feat for a book. The basic plot is about this retired army officer, Thomas Lang, who is hired to kill someone but decides to warn the victim instead of killing him. This ends him up mixed up in a CIA-led conspiracy to protect the development and marketing of a next-gen attack helicopter. There are the usual action-packed passages and international conspiracy intrigues, but this is hardly your run-of-the-mill suspense novel. You can tell Laurie uses the genre merely as an excuse to play around with English witticisms and delight the reader.Here are a few quotes I highlighted during my reading; admittedly, some of them might be funnier only when read in context:About London cabbies: The meter said six pounds, so I passed a ten pound note through the window and watched a fifteen-second production of ‘I’m Not Sure I’ve Got Change For That’, starring licensed cab driver 99102, before getting out and heading back down the street (Kindle location 1076)About Americans’ use of the word “period”: Saying period at the end of something doesn’t make it incontrovertible (Kindle location 1391)About Germans in Prague: But then of course, for most Germans, Prague is only a few hours away by fast tank, so it’s hardly surprising that they treat the place like the end of their garden (Kindle location 3412)About journalists: The few journalists I’ve spoken to in my life all seemed to have this in common: an attitude of perpetual exhaustion, brought on by dealing with people who just aren’t quite as fantastic as they are (Kindle 4356)
  • (3/5)
    I think this is what you'd call a "rollicking good read".
  • (2/5)
    It's started out like gang busters, but I have to admit I got confused as the plot rolled along. This could also have been because I was only jury duty and read it in between testimonies, conferences between the attorneys, etc. No doubt that Laurie has a way with language.
  • (4/5)
    An enjoyable read - fast paced, interesting characters. A nice mystery/ detective story. Things I liked, Thomas Lang, is a bit of bumbler, he's a detective, but is basically a nice guy. When asked to assassinate an American, he declines, but decides that he should warn the assassination subject. This starts a series of adventures that leave Thomas Shot, beat up, and generally abused. It takes him from the streets of London, to the slopes of Switzerland, then to Morocco. A nice mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously.
  • (4/5)
    Well this was a scream. It's a little strange because the story isn't a comedy, but the narration is hysterical pretty much from page one. It's amazing how funny Hugh can make terrorism. Also, I congratulate either Hugh or his researchers, every bit of information about small arms in this book is accurate, take that Joe Haldeman!
  • (5/5)
    Hilarious and well written. The main character speaks with the voice of characters who Laurie has portrayed before: the head of MI6 from the British series "MI5" and House from "House MD." Some of the characters speak with the same "voice" as others, and the American characters use "British-isms" which no actual American would ever say. Aside from that, it's a very enjoyable read, and may yet turn up in movie form. When Laurie wrote it he was the age of the main character, so I imagined him in his 30s as I read. If you like "House MD" you'll love this book.
  • (3/5)
    I love Hugh Laurie (as Bertie Wooster and Dr. Gregory House) and this novel is full of witty one-liners and humorous internal dialogue. Thomas Lang is a hapless former soldier for the British who turns down an offer of significant money to kill a wealthy American in the gun-selling business. Lang feels obligated to warn the intended victim and instead finds himself attracted to the man's daughter and embroiled in a plot of international intrigue and deceit. The storyline is rather confusing and the humor wanes a bit toward the end as a serious resolution is worked out. Similar to Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell but not as gory nor as compelling.
  • (5/5)
    Dry humor, witty remarks, and a bit of sarcasm, written in first person by the man we all now know as House. For me, the actual plot - which is sort of a spy thriller; part serious, part satire - was secondary to the writing and the characters. I didn't particularly care what they were doing. I just loved reading his words. His characters are vivid and unique. He has a true gift for writing dialogue and even his narrative sucked me in and held me in place.In all fairness, however, I must admit that the plot was at times convoluted in such a way that it could be difficult to follow. I think, in Laurie’s effort to bring suspense to the story, he sometimes leaves the reader dangling in the wind. However, the entertainment value of his writing style carried me through any little rough spots in the plot.When I turned the last page, I was sad to say goodbye to the characters. Thomas Lang, Laurie’s main character, wants to live on in my mind. And, for me, that’s the mark of a great story.
  • (4/5)
    A perfect light read. The plot is decent enough and the characterization is good. The best thing of the novel is Mr. Laurie's ability to carry over his skill at humour from his acting work into writing. On several instances I laughed aloud at re-read several sections to marvel at his brilliant use of puns and jokes.