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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Gun Seller
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2000
This book was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, nothing like I expected. I was expecting a funny book. Don't get me wrong it is funny, but it is mainly a thriller about a guy being swept up in a chain of events beyond his control. Laurie suceeds in drawing you into the plot and making you empathise with the main character. It is excellently written with twists and turns a plenty, keeping you on the edge of your seat, especially the superb climatic rooftop ending. I particulary liked the use of quotations at the beginning of each chapter, which gave a little clue as to where the story was going, making you want to read on. In a lot of thrillers you can work out what's going to happen before you have got to the middle however in The Gun Seller the plot thickens so much that it isn't until the last few pages that the whole thing comes together. Indeed it's only in the last chapter that you work out the full meaning of the title. Hugh Laurie is a talented novelist and can do much more than just be funny.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2007
Don't buy this expecting it to be high literature and you won't be disappointed. Some beautiful set-pieces and nicely human characters keep the entertainment turned up high and you could easily read this in one go as it whizzes along. The second half of the book seems slightly sketchy compared to the first half but by then you are so keen to stay with the story it doesn't really matter and doesn't spoil the enjoyment. One of a very small number of books that made me laugh out loud.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Fast-moving plot, written with panache and wit. From the opening sequence, when we witness the hero having his arm nearly broken by the thug I found this book to be engrossing. As others have written, it was hard to put down. The book is scattered and splattered with wry, comic, sharp observations on how and why people react to each other. Some of the scenes, where Lawrie described body language and dialogues were original and I found myself rereading them to increase the pleasure. The detailed and seemingly accurate description of firearms, Czech republic, Morocco, London were enthralling. Loved it! Good work, Mr Lawrie!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 1999
This book belts along at a cracking pace and you end up feeling almost as battered and bruised as our hero. Part Tom Clancy, part Enid Blyton, part Douglas Adams...make of that what you will, this book is so well written you wonder why Laurie didn't write it years ago. You can't help loving the main character because he is so obviously the modest, James Bond, action-man that the author always wanted to be. Comparisons with Stephen Fry's The Liar are hard to avoid and while Laurie lacks the high brow references and tongue-in cheek snobbery of Fry, The Gun Seller is equally riddled with fantastic characterisations, laugh-out-loud moments and good old British jingoism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2011
As a huge fan of Hugh Laurie's comic/acting career, I was inclined to read this. While at moments the writing is witty, funny and down-to-earth (unlike some other books I've read where the characters and plot feel otherworldly), limited character development prevents you from truly with the book. Hugh should have spent more time developing Lang's character concerning his career in the armed forces instead of focusing on trying to force plot twists. While some plot elements are intriguing and have interesting ideas behind them, a lack of subtlety and credibility makes certain things tough to believe and/or take seriously. Although I find this book in parts witty, what is sacrificed in depth is a harsh trade-off. Worth a read for fans of Hugh I think, however there are much better espionage books out there.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 September 2010
Series three of 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie' includes some sketches entitled 'The Department' which feature a first class pastiche of a secret agent and his handler with mangled cliches and nonsense dialogue delivered absolutely deadpan:

ALAN: Did he tell you what happened to my last partner?
WOMAN: Shot dead on the steps of the Prague Embassy. I've read the file.
ALAN: Yeah? Well files ain't a lot of use when you're staring down the barrel of a knife.

ALAN: Look, if you've hauled me all the way out here ...
HANDLER: Calm yourself, Alan. There's reason in my madness. Now tell me. What do you know of Carl Albert Beiderbeck?
ALAN: Beiderbeck. 5'11". Blue build, medium eyes. Father was a Romanian circus acrobat, did some courier work for the Soviets in the late fifties. Mother was a small business adviser for the Midland Bank in Altrincham. Small arms, big feet. Fluent at the violin. Distinguishing marks, a small mole in his garden.
HANDLER: Ha. I'm impressed Alan.
ALAN: I've seen the file.

Now, though the DNA of 'A bit of Fry and Laurie' is there in The Gunseller (not to mention evidence of Laurie's lifelong diet of P.G. Wodehouse) the balance of about 95% pretty competent Ludlum/Deighton thriller alloyed with 5% spoof didn't really work for me. The central character is too good at his job, makes too few mistakes and is too genuinely suave to really sit with the motif of humour which runs throughout the story, attempting to chip the edges off the seriousness but succeeding instead in undermining the empathy and suspense.

Though he undoubtedly gives good spy, the bits of Laurie were enjoyable but a little incongruous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2013
You know, I can't honestly say I remember exactly what made me pick this book up in the first place. I think it was a friend of mine said it was pretty good, but as it was written by Bertie Wooster/Lieutenant George, I was a little sceptical about whether he could pull off a spy novel without it ending up like 'Johnny English'.
Still, I have always liked Hugh Laurie and he's a man of many talents, so I did give it a go and I am very glad I did. It's been a while now and I have recently picked up the kindle edition so I could reread it.

His protagonist is not exactly a wholesome, loveable character. He's cynical, self-centred, flawed, sarcastic, and enjoys winding people up, which might sound a little like a certain MD he's played on tv, but he's not quite as misanthropic as that. He does have redeeming qualities, and the writing is witty and easy to follow for the most part. It is, however, a spy novel so there were times I did feel I was getting a little lost and had to reread a bit here and there, but overall the plot works well and I am quite surpised someone has never tried to make a movie out of it. Of course, don't be expecting a Tom Clancy kind of novel. It's a very different feel and perspective, but it does work very well.

There were some pacing issues where it seemed a bit slow at times, then suddenly kicks off...then slows right down again, so not the smoothest of transitions. However, as his first, and to my knowledge, only foray into fiction writing, he sets the bar pretty high on a first attempt, and if I could produce something like that on a first (or any other) try, I would be very happy indeed.

Well worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2010
This is a strange book about a former Army officer who is tricked through a bizarre series of events into becoming an arms dealer. It starts off as a bit of a comedic romp, but then twists back on itself to become more of a thriller with a bit of psychology thrown in. One thing's for certain - it will keep you guessing all the way.

The first half of the story is confusing - Laurie has made it deliberately hard to follow what's happening in places, aided by the first person point of view which enables thoughts of the narrator to occur without giving a full explanation. The first half is also the funnier half - full of witty asides and occasionally worryingly deep observations. At the start I could clearly hear Hugh Laurie's voice behind the words, and see him in the starring role, but that soon faded as I got drawn into the plot.

The second half of the book seems to lose the comedy aspect however. While the plot continues to writhe around in unexpected directions (ably aided by the narrator withholding his plans until they happen), it becomes more serious - and less predictable as you wonder which way the character is going to decide to go. The comedy seems to mostly disappear in the second half, emerging only briefly to break up the more action oriented parts.

Originally I thought it was quite like Stephen Fry's writing style, but having finished I'm not so sure... it's certainly got the unpredictability of a Fry, but not so much of the weirdness, and more realism I suppose. A good book that I enjoyed reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2014
My problem was in finding it hard to identify the characters or feel I knew much about them. I have just realised that having finished the book a couple of days ago I can't now tell you the name of the main character. I kept feeling like I must have missed pages out (but hadn't) while I was reading it. Characters would be introduced and then brought back later but the initial presence was so brief, by the time they returned I wouldn't know if they had been 'goodies or badies'. The general premise of the plot was a good one and I can't help but think perhaps this book should have gone 'straight to film'.
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on 18 July 2011
I became a fan of this man with House M.D. He seemed like an awesome actor. Then, I bought the DVD Set of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie, and even it had a sense of humour that's a bit far to me, he managed to amuse and cheer me up well enough. Then came out his album, and that was amazing too. Shocker. So I thought I should give his book a try, thinking that it won't be just as good. You know, if a man can act, compose music, sing and play this well, he had to suck at something, he had to suck at a 5th quality. But no dice. This book was glued to my hands, and whenever I'd left it because I had to do something else, it kept calling for me in my head. Belonging to a genre which is pretty open to boring cliches, cocky lines, annoying characters and unsatisfying-so-called-twist endings, this book avoids them all. The methapors used to lay out certain issues in a genius way kind of reminds the metaphors used in House. No complaints there, I love to read about a magnificent comparison between the approach of men and women on sex through a Fiat Panda and a Volvo.

I recommend this book to everyone, it's a great mixture of nice humour, fun and adventure with large sprinkles of intelligence on top.
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