The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for discussion of Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller. We hope that these ideas will enrich your discussion and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Hugh Laurie makes deft comic use of names and nicknames, such as the Carls, Murdah, and the deadly helicopter called "The Graduate." Name some of your favorites.
Who is "the gun seller" of the novel's title?
One reviewer wrote that The Gun Seller is "certainly the first novel to combine The Day of the Jackal with The Code of the Woosters." What other literary or cinematic comparisons does The Gun Seller bring to mind?
To enjoy The Gun Seller, do you think a reader must be familiar with traditional spy novels? Why or why not?
Part of the way through The Gun Seller, Sarah Woolf stops being preceded by the scent of Nina Ricci's Fleur de Fleurs. What might this suggest? Discuss ways the author marks the shifting nature of Thomas Lang's relationship to Sarah.
Discuss how much Solomon knew about Graduate Studies and when he knew it.
Note some of the ways Laurie sends up clichés, for instance: "She turned towards me and narrowed her eyes....Narrowed them horizontally, not vertically."
How has Laurie altered your opinion of Volvos or Fiat Pandas?
According to The Gun Seller, why do diplomats end up with all the world's best real estate?
Lang says that "stepping into an open-top sports car driven by a beautiful woman....feels like you're climbing into a metaphor." How does Laurie get the reader to climb in, buckle up and enjoy the ride in this meta-spy novel?
pandora, August 3, 2012 (view all comments by pandora)
The man who plays Dr. House is not only an actor and a musician, he's also a pretty good writer! This pulpy thriller keeps you on your feet and engaged up until the end. An ideal beach read!
John Kimble, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by John Kimble)
You'll pick up this book because you watch House and like the show, think Laurie's character is engaging, but to my mind, this is a well-constructed mystery / detective / thriller-type read that you'll enjoy regardless of its origins. Written back in the day when the word terrorism wasn't in the news daily, there's a time capsule-like feel to the story line, but not in a way that makes the story feel overly dated or trivial. I found myself getting a bit tied up in terms of who's who as far as the cast of characters were concerned, but that aside, I found it a very imaginative, entertaining read.
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Washington Square Press -
The Gun Seller reminds me of a well-made gin and tonic crisp, hip, and refreshing, with a droll twist of lime.
"Occasionally, the publisher's hype gets it right, and this is such an occasion. British actor Hugh Laurie's writing debut is a skillful mix of Bertie Wooster and James Bond....Thomas is alternately feckless and heroic and always arch, puckish, or ironic. Author Laurie employs a glibly discursive Wodehousian style that works as a charming counterpoint to the moments of Bondian derring-do. The Gun Seller is a thoroughgoing pleasure from beginning to end, and Laurie...is a very talented writer."
by Publishers Weekly,
"In his debut as a thriller writer, the longstanding partner of British comedian Stephen Fry treats the genre of John Buchan, Eric Ambler, and Frederick Forsythe with as much reverence as Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy did science fiction. His blend of comedy and suspense has some truly hilarious moments....Laurie's droll patter enlivens Lang's bemused narration throughout. Besides motorcycle chases, unarmed combat, and sharpshooting, Lang wittily fetishizes weaponry and personal injury. As a good Brit, however, he is terribly, terribly reticent about sex ('When it comes to sex, it seems to me, men really are caught between a rock and a soft, limp, apologetic place.')."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"A first-rate thriller...an awesome entertainment machine...a smashing book."
by Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review,
"Now Mr. Laurie has followed his fellow Cantabrigian into comic fiction with The Gun Seller, the most engaging literary menage a genres since George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman arrived on the scene....As a writer, Mr. Laurie is smart, charming, warm, cool (if need be) and high-spirited.....This is a genuinely witty and sophisticated entertainment."
by The Evening Standard (London),
"Amiable and lively....It's certainly the first novel to combine The Day of the Jackal with The Code of the Woosters."
by Library Journal,
"There is mystery, intrigue, sex, and violence, all...[tossed] off with sarcastic wit and remarkable poise. Laurie's humor hits home. Although the subject is serious, even plausible, much of this comedy-thriller is laugh-out-loud funny and very readable. Highly recommended."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"It's no surprise that this fey first novel from British TV comedian/writer Laurie should feature an updated Bertie Wooster pitched headlong into international intrigue, terrorism, and really embarrassing scrapes....Throughout all this balderdash as Thomas goes through all of James Bond's paces (unarmed combat, ritualistic double-crosses, soft-focus sex with Third World terrorists) the jokes are reliably funny; but since the premise and its development are nowhere more outrageous than in straight-faced examples of the genre, the japery eventually grows monotonous. Still, every episode is awash with giggles, even if the whole production seems directed at audiences who think Get Smart would have worked better as a six-hour BBC series."
by The Washington Post Book World,
"A genuine plot twist on every other page...good guys that turn out to be bad guys and vice versa, chases, exotic locales, a heavy moral center, flinty dialogue, loads of suspense....Thomas Lang is the perfect type of hero....The only thing sharper than his tongue is his power of perception....An international thriller as solid as anything that Len Deighton or Robert Ludlum has written."
by Stephen Fry, author of Making History and the other half of A Bit of Fry and Laurie,
"The funniest and most charming novel I have read in years and years. If you see someone howling with laughter on the subway, sobbing with joy in the street, or exploding with delight on an airplane this year, it's because they're reading The Gun Seller."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"British writer/actor Laurie's first novel has all the trademarks of an offbeat James Bond adventure...the ming-boggling intricacy of a Robert Ludlum plot, and, most gratifyingly, the irreverent attitude of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Laurie gleefully shakes and stirs a cocktail of international terrorism, high-tech helicopters, devious arms dealers, Bond-caliber beauties, Swiss ski resorts, and British intelligence into a cool concoction that zips along, heralds a new hero...and leaves plenty of room for a sequel."
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