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The Gun Seller Paperback – October 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

British actor and comedian Hugh Laurie's first book is a spot-on spy spoof about hapless ex-soldier Thomas Lang, who is drawn unwittingly and unwillingly into the center of a dangerous James Bond-like plot of international terrorists, arms dealing, high-tech weapons, and CIA spooks. You may recall having seen Laurie in the English television series Jeeves and Wooster; Laurie played Bertie Wooster, the clutzy hero of the P.G. Wodehouse comic novels that originated those characters. The lineage from Wodehouse's Wooster to Laurie's Lang is clear, and, if you like Wodehouse, you'll probably love The Gun Seller. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA. A delightful first novel by the British actor, comedian, and author of the television series "A Bit of Fry and Laurie." In this spoof (of sorts) of the spy genre, Laurie's appealing turns of phrase will grab readers from the first paragraph. Thomas Lang, formerly of the Scots Guard and currently a freelance bodyguard/man for hire, is offered an assassination job. He indignantly refuses, attempts to warn the victim, and is soon embroiled in undercover work for the British government, CIA operatives, arms dealers, and terrorists. Those who enjoy action or spy novels will be swept along in the events. Although somewhat convoluted, the plot is so punctuated with bursts of sly humor that readers won't mind a bit of confusion. The author pokes gentle, good-natured fun at the foibles and characteristics of British and Americans alike, as well as his hero, bureaucrats, terrorists, diplomats, and just about everyone else. In a tone reminiscent of Lawrence Sanders's "McNally" series (Putnam), the light, frothy humor is infectious. A quick read, with an engaging, capable hero and lots of plot twists, for YAs looking for something pleasantly different.?Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067102082X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671020828
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (350 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hugh Laurie has cowritten two comedy series for BBC television, A Bit of Fry and Laurie. He has also acted in the television dramas Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster as well as in the feature films 101 Dalmatians, Sense and Sensibility, and Peter's Friends. He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By E. Kleine on January 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you like Hugh Laurie on "House" you'll love him as a writer. This is a witty, satirical send up of the spy novel and Thomas Lang is as refreshing and interesting a character as any today. He's a world wise, and somewhat weary, hero whose biting insights and view of life reflect the best and funniest in all of us.

Laurie has a great gift for dialogue and a flowing, almost stream of consciousness narrative style. It's a Great Book first or otherwise. Did I mention Exciting?
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229 of 266 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was trying to be pithy when I said to Jill that the difference between English and American comedians is that the English ones write their own material, for books by comedians are becoming quite common on both sides of the Atlantic. Their is a difference, however, and it is in the "type" of books that the two nationalities differ in: American comedians write up their monologues in a collected set of essays (Jerry Seinfield's Seinlanguage, Bill Cosby's books, Rita Rudner's I'm Naked Under My Clothes, Paul Reisner's book), whereas English comedians write novels (Python's Terry Jones and his books for children, Stephen Fry, and the case in point). I attribute the difference to education. Your typical American comedian skipped university to work through the comedy club circuit, hoping for that gig on the Tonight Show to make a break, get their own HBO special, then maybe movies or TV. British comedians typically begin in the comedy glee club of their universities (I believe it's the Cambridge "Footlights", or is that Oxford? As an American, I can't keep them straight, which is to Americans like saying I can't tell the difference between a Yankee and a Southerner), spend years as bit actors in off-West End productions, until finally they get picked up for a movie or a starring spot in their own West End revue. The British, thus, tend to be grounded in the literature of humor, rather than just the anecdotal type so favored by the Americans. Of course, I'm making this up out of whole cloth without bothering to do a spec of research, so I wouldn't base a thesis on it.Read more ›
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85 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Severen on June 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I discovered Hugh Laurie on the TV series "HOUSE". After I found out he had written a novel I had to read it. And I wasn't disappointed!! What a funny, witty, exciting novel!

Thomas Lang, a sort of bodyguard-for-hire, turns down a job to assassinate an American businessman, which leads to all sorts of trouble involving beautiful women, the CIA, helicopters, and terrorists. Wow!

Hugh Laurie has a great way with words. One tiny quibble--Laurie is British and the novel is of course full of British slang, some of which I don't understand. But hey, you can't win them all. I hope Hugh Laurie comes out with another book soon!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sharon M. Gudjohnsen on August 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was prompted to buy the book because of my huge admiration for P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster and Hugh Laurie. Having read a couple of Stephen Fry's books I was most curious! 'The Gun Seller' was well written, entertaining, intelligent and fun, although not terribly profound, which, if it were, would have not been all the fun it was! I hope Hugh Laurie writes again!!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Debra Hamel VINE VOICE on May 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Lang may have the background for it--he's ex-military and peculiarly adept at hand-to-hand combat--but he's just too nice a guy to kill for money. Lang is in fact so good a citizen that, offered just such a job, he not only declines but endeavors to warn his would-be victim that there's a price on his head. This doesn't quite go according to plan. Unfortunately for Lang, nothing is as straightforward as it appears in this book. His initial job interview, as it were--an ostensibly simple offer of work delivered in an Amsterdam bar--winds up landing Lang in jail, in love, and in the thick of a terrorist group bent on, among other things, taking over an American consulate building in Casablanca.

The plot of Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller is complex and can be hard to follow, in large part because Laurie leaves readers in the dark much of the time as to what Lang is up to. Having just finished it, with the book as fresh in my mind as it's going to get, I'd be hard-pressed to summarize the various machinations of the various principals. But you won't really be reading Laurie's send-up of spy novels for the plot so much as for the author's drollery: the man wields the English language very deftly indeed. Not laugh-out-loud funny, particularly in the last third of the book when the story becomes more serious (arms dealers are bad and people sometimes inconstant), but witty and playful. There's something to appreciate in virtually every sentence of the book, starting with the first: "Imagine that you have to break someone's arm.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By jmblanch on June 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I will try to prevent my adoration of the brilliant Hugh Laurie affect my review of his first (and, to date, only) published novel, but I will admit that it was the only reason I was initially interested in reading The Gun Seller. While the book itself might not be expressly profound or lasting, it's great for some light reading (or airplane reading, as it was for me).

Overall, this spy-genre spoof is great fun. If you are familiar with Laurie's days before the successful show House, MD then you are aware that he knows a thing or two about comedy (that dry, weird Brit comedy). This book is dripping with humor of that sort. Know him as Dr. Greg House? There's a bit of that scathing sarcasm in The Gun Seller, too. You can't help but picture Laurie himself as Thomas Lang, the protagonist of the story. I think that only makes the book more enjoyable.

The plot itself is a little over-the-top with conspiracies, terrorists, arms dealers, a damsel in distress and, of course, motorcycles (again, if you know anything about Laurie). But then again, what spy/action plot isn't a bit far-fetched and fantastic (i.e., James Bond). Like the Bond character, I can envision the character of Tom Lang being serialized and continuing in a series past this book. We learn enough about the character's history and personality (and that of his quirky Jeeves-like colleague, Solomon), to make him a lasting character.

I can't say I'm an expert on spy novels (or their spoofs), but I do think this offering from Laurie is worthy of a read for fans of the genre, or for those appreciative of intelligent, dry humor.
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