Synopses & Reviews
Hugh Laurie concocts an uproarious cocktail of comic zingers and over-the-top action in this "ripping spoof of the spy genre" (Vanity Fair)
-- the irresistible tale of a former Scots Guard-turned-hired gun, a freelance soldier of fortune who also happens to be one heck of a nice guy.
Cold-blooded murder just isn't Thomas Lang's cup of tea. Offered a bundle to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts to warn the intended victim instead -- a good deed that soon takes a bad turn. Quicker than he can down a shot of his favorite whiskey, Lang is bashing heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femmes fatales. Up against rogue CIA agents, wannabe terrorists, and an arms dealer looking to make a high-tech killing, Lang's out to save the leggy lady he has come to love...and prevent an international bloodbath to boot.
"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." Booklist
"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.')." Publishers Weekly
"A first-rate thriller...an awesome entertainment machine...a smashing book." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"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." Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review
"Amiable and lively....It's certainly the first novel to combine The Day of the Jackal with The Code of the Woosters." The Evening Standard (London)
"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." Library Journal
"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." Kirkus Reviews
"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." The Washington Post Book World
"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." Stephen Fry, author of Making History and the other half of A Bit of Fry and Laurie
"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." Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Hugh Laurie has cowritten the BBC comedy series 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.
Reading Group Guide
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. Discussion Questions
- 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?