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Gun Work Mass Market Paperback – March 29, 2011


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Gun Work + Losers Live Longer (Hard Case Crime) + Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime)
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857683268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857683267
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,275,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Genre hopping seems to suit horror writer Schow (Havoc Swims Jaded) as he lets out all the stops in this high-caliber action story. It's no exaggeration to say that Barney has a more intimate relationship with guns than he does with any human, living or dead. That's why Mexicans call him el hombre de las armas, the gunman. It's also why old army buddy Carl Ledbetter drags him into a messy situation when Carl's fiancée, Erica, is kidnapped in Mexico City. At the prearranged money drop things start to go awry, and eventually a badly beaten, mutilated, shotup and half-starved Barney emerges, determined to get revenge on the kidnappers and anyone else who gets in his way. This is a gory, fast-paced pulp tour de force in the classic style. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Barney, a gunman, moves “between the spaces of the ordinary world of people,” limiting his physical and emotional exposure. But when Carl, an Iraq war buddy, calls him for help—Carl’s fiancée has been kidnapped in Mexico City—Barney ignores his better judgment to go play hero. Events turn ass-over-teakettle wrong, and Barney wants revenge. Fortunately, it’s nothing a little surgical modification, highly modified weaponry, and a few bullet-happy buddies can’t fix. Schow, a versatile novelist (Havoc Swims Jaded, 2006) and screenwriter (The Crow, 1994), eschews his usual splatterpunk for a pulpy bulletfest that, while not horror, still features plenty of splatter. A double-crossing dame haunts the book, but this is really all about the guys and their guns. Barney leads his crew on a revenge mission that is one part Peckinpah, one part A-Team, and two barrels of triple-aught buckshot. But Barney is no Mack Bolan. Schow’s craftsmanlike prose propels a plot that follows its own peculiar rhythms. Readers who like the smell of cordite in the morning will want to pull the trigger on this purchase. --Keir Graff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By mrliteral VINE VOICE on November 2, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't know if it started with Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald Westlake), but there is a certain type of crime novel I always think of as a Parker novel. In Stark's books, Parker is a thief, a man with little in the way of emotions or emotional ties who shouldn't be interesting but somehow is: it's his purely professional nature, his methodical approaches to problems and his coldly ruthless (but never malicious nature) that is--in the capable hands of Stark--compelling to read about.

The main character in David Schow's Gun Work has certain Parker-like qualities. He is a man without ties who operates outside of the law when necessary. Barney is not a thief but, when necessary, he can be a gunman. For Carl Ledbetter, an old war acquaintance, Barney's skills are necessary. Carl's in Mexico City, where his wife has been kidnapped for $1,000,000 ransom. To get his wife back, Carl enlists Barney.

Barney comes to Mexico City, where he quickly suspects that there is more going on than a mere kidnapping. Unfortunately, what's really going on will not become apparent until it's too late. Betrayals will occur and Barney will become a prisoner himself, subjected to torture and slated for gangland execution. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if he didn't eventually get free and seek revenge against those who wronged him, and Schow does deliver the goods.

This is the first time I've read Schow and I had fun reading Gun Work. This is not classic literature filled with multiple levels of meaning and symbolism, but it's not meant to be. Instead, it is intended to be pure entertainment, a lean mean crime story, and as such, it works perfectly. If you enjoy the Parker books, this one should be a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank E. McManus on March 22, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
NOTE: In what follows I've tried not to give away too many plot details, but I've discussed the overall shape of the plot (which is pretty obvious from the start). If you don't want to know anything about that plot shape, don't read this review until you've read the book.

I was tempted to give this book four stars right after finishing it, because the ending is good. But too much of "Gun Work" has problems. This is basically a typical violent action story about a loner tough guy who's betrayed, left for dead, and roars back for vengeance. The book's most interesting elements occur when the author tries to deepen this predictable plot a little, but he doesn't go far enough. Barney, the hero, remains undeveloped; the reader never finds out enough about what makes him tick. Instead we have to settle for some interesting ambiguities about whether Barney is, or wishes to remain, as cynical as he tries to be. And ultimately he's pushed out of his cynicism, and that occurrence is almost enough to redeem the book.

But not quite. The early pages are flawed by too much of what amounts to "scene summary" rather than scenes. These are clearly set-up pages, and I would guess the author wanted to get through them quickly in order to get to the real meat of the plot within the space limitation of a Hard Case book. This tendency to summarize actions rather than show them quickly becomes annoying. For example, when Barney and his friend walk into their hotel room to find a dead body waiting for them, it's mentioned almost in passing, with no effort to make the reader experience the shock the characters must have felt.

After the set-up (which ends somewhere around page 60), the action kicks in fast, and doesn't let up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff VINE VOICE on June 7, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Gun Work has several things going for it. It has a fast plot. The plot is complex. And there is a great sense of place for Mexico. Plus the protagonist is a real tough guy.

However, there are a lot of coincidences that seem forced, a few "Why did they do that?" moments, and a number of plot surprises that failed to surprise.

If you're a real devotee of this series, then dig in. Otherwise, there are at least three dozen better books in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on December 26, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are friends you hang out with on a regular basis. Then there are your special friends -- the ones you can depend on to get you out of a jam you can't solve on your own. Carl Ledbetter is in that kind of trouble.

His fiancée Erica has been kidnapped while in Mexico City, and the ransom is one million dollars. So, who can Carl call but his fellow Iraq War vet, Barney, a scarred yet deliberately nondescript character with the proverbial "checkered past." Carl once saved Barney's life, so Barney accompanies Carl to the money drop and shows he was born to tackle this kind of situation.

But when things go wrong because Barney's aim is too good, he smells a fish ... and someone who was supposed to stay alive doesn't ... and then things get really bad.

Though he's done a great deal in the intervening years, author David J. Schow is probably still best known for (whether it's true or not) coining the term to describe the kind of horror fiction he and his fellow "splatterpunk" writers were producing in the mid-1980s.

Also, though Schow has written half a dozen novels, and about as many Hollywood screenplays, his reputation has been primarily based on his skills at the short story. He deserves for his newest novel, Gun Work from Hard Case Crime, to change that perception.

Gun Work is Schow's first book since his 2006 collection, Havoc Swims Jaded -- and his first ever set firmly in the hardboiled crime genre. 250 pages of constant action are divided into five parts and no chapters, with Schow (who was once married to fellow Hard Case scribe Christa Faust) offering up a speedy, grueling, and ultimately satisfying read -- as well as a graduate-level education in artillery.
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