The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie is a somewhat comedic conspiracy theory “thriller.” It’s told in the first person by Thomas Lang, a smart-alec 36-year-old former captain in the British Army. The story begins shortly after he’s offered an assassination gig and we follow as he gets caught up in a convoluted scheme with the ultimate objective of selling a new extraordinarily deadly weapon.
This book makes me want to give Laurie a congratulatory handshake with one hand while knocking out a few of his teeth with the other.
Laurie is clearly an intelligent guy with some interesting takes and he provides us with a smattering of near lols.
However, the flaws in this book are numerous.
For starters, there’s a hole in the plot the size of the Grand Canyon. I’ll wait to spoil it until after my conclusion and rating, but suffice it to say that once the hole became apparent, I desperately wanted to kick Laurie in the spine for wasting my time with this maddeningly implausible poppycock.
Next, while our protagonist is occasionally self-deprecating, more often than not he’s a sarcastic, too-cool-for-school douche. This could be okay if the story was not told in the first person. But it is. And when someone tells you a story about how funny and cool they are, rather than making you laugh and clap in admiration, it makes you wanna put your foot up their ass. And when someone writes an entire book like this, it makes you wanna burn it in a garbage can and rain diarrhea on it.
Further, Laurie names his ultra evil villain “Murdah” – as in murder – which reminded me of Brian from The Family Guy pooping all over some hack writer who named his main character John Everyman. Just fucking awful.
Moving on, we have what Laurie must consider his signature style of witty, eloquent humor, where he uses the same term/phrase within a sentence (or pretty much the same sentence). I’m assuming he kept a template for this posted on his computer, because he employs it over and over and over. Below are a few typical examples. Try not to puke on your keyboard/cell phone.
“He dealt with me like a man who’s used to dealing with people like me, …”
“and the only sure way to look like a man who’s spent a long time looking for somewhere to stay is to spend a long time looking for somewhere to stay.”
“In tennis, they call it choking on the shot. I don’t know what they call it in assassination. Choking on the shot, probably.”
Lastly, after wrapping up this poppycock, Laurie has the audacity to include “suggested questions” that “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.” I prayed to the God of Ironic Douchebags that he was gonna finish on a high note with some hilarious self-deprecating, high-falutin-literature-bashing jokes, but the questions are all serious and all cringeworthy. Just fucking embarrassing.
To conclude, despite Laurie flashing a satisfying bit of wit now and then, the flaws were too much to bear and the suggested questions at the end were the nail in the coffin. 2 measly – yet generous – Pearls.
SPOILER ALERT: Here’s how the conspiracy went down.
An evil American weapons manufacturer has built an unprecedentedly deadly military helicopter … But there’s just one problem … No-one at the Pentagon believes that it will work!
Okay, so they’re completely fucked, right? Nothing to do but scrap the whole idea, right? Right?!!
Wrong! All you have to do is simply coerce a smart-alec ex-military Brit into joining a six-person terrorist organization that unbeknownst to them is funded by you. And you have them hijack the American consulate building in Casablanca, Morocco. Once they’ve got everyone tied up and are chillin’ on the roof, you kill the shit out of them with your your new weapon – an agile, next-generation military helicopter! - while CNN cameras roll. Then you sit back in your recliner with a scotch-on-the-rocks in one hand and your junk in the other while the orders come pouring in and your evil riches – already tops in the world – grow even richer and evilier. Not only is it easy-peasy, but it also makes an awesome story and a shit-ton of sense.
Oh wait, I just thought of something.
What if you just tested it?
Like instead of going through an insane amount of trouble so that it sees actual combat, you send the Pentagon its specs as well as a video of it in action at a test site. Like, you know how when firefighters wanna test out new equipment or just hone their skills, they don’t lock your neighbors in their house and set it on fire, they simply build a test site and burn the crap out of that? Maybe you could also build a test site with fake terrorists and pretend kill the shit out of them while making all kinds of cool, unprecedented helicopter maneuvers and shit? Like … how’s about that? For one, we wouldn’t have to read this crappy book. I wonder what they call crappy books in England. Crappy books, probably.
Fuck 2 Pearls, this gets 2 Piles of Shit.