The Gun Seller is a novel written by Hugh Laurie. The cover describes him as “star of the FOX-TV series House.” Those who have watched the show would recognize Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, the disgruntled, dysfunctional, yet brilliant, man that the other characters both loved and hated.
I couldn’t help but “hear” the voice of Dr. House in the words and thoughts of Thomas Lang, the main character of The Gun Seller. I’m not sure that I would automatically cast the role that way, so to speak, if the cover didn’t connect House to this book by Laurie. The book has nothing at all to do with the show.
Thomas Lang has a couple of things in common with Dr. Gregory House. Both like to ride a motorcycle, both are smart, and both are very cynical. House fits in a lot better than The Prince Regent, Prince Ludwig, or Simon Partridge (the characters Hugh Laurie played in various seasons of Black Adder) would have!
The book starts with the sentence: Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm. The reader is immediately dropped into Thomas Lang’s head as he explains how he got into a situation that has gone terribly wrong. You learn that Thomas Lang is having his arm broken (very slowly) by a man named Rayner (who Lang surmises must really, really, hate him.)
It is this type of curious, and humorous, observation that reminded me a bit of the style of Douglas Adams. The odd, unexpectedly amusing, aspects were in contrast to other parts of the book that were very dark and serious.
Sometime before the incident of the slowly breaking arm, Thomas Lang was approached by a stranger. The guy wanted to hire Lang to kill someone for him. Lang refused, and turned down the job.
Later, he got concerned. What if the stranger managed to hire someone else? Lang felt the need to basically break into the apartment of the man who he was asked to kill (but refused to kill) in an effort to warn him that his life was in danger. That’s when he runs into Rayner, who Lang assumes must be the man the stranger hired.
Except… that’s not really what is going on at all. Lang doesn’t figure that out until much later. Also, Thomas Lang isn’t just some guy off the street. He’s a British spy. This is a book where almost nothing is as it seems to be.
Why is the book called The Gun Seller? It’s not because Lang is selling guns. Without giving too much away, I can say that Lang’s adventure leads him to work for a man who actually does sell guns (and other weapons) to various countries. Except… that’s not exactly what is really going on, either.
Things are interconnected, people are pretending to be someone that they are not, and there is the potential of extremely disastrous consequences if things go wrong. Just when Lang things he has it all figured out, he discovers information that changes everything. It happens more than once or twice.
If you enjoy spy novels, that contain quick action scenes and big explosions, this is the book for you. Those who like to try and puzzle out the pieces of the story as the main character tries to sort things out will also like this book.
The book has nothing at all to do with the TV series House, despite what was printed on the cover. Don’t worry if you have never seen the show. The book has nothing to do with it. The Gun Seller is unrelated, stands alone, and was a very exciting read.