Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gun Seller

Hugh Laurie is best known in the states for the TV show House, but his acting character began way back in the 80s. His comedic work in the likes of Blackadder and a A Bit of Fry and Laurie. So it isn't surprising that his only novel to date (another may or may not be published in 2009) is a comedy of sorts. The Gun Seller is humorous spy thriller. It is not a spoof in the Austin Powers vein, but it is more like an Ian Fleming story with a hero known more for his dry wit than his dry martinis.

Laurie keeps the humor verbal and observational rather than situational. He therefore is able to tell a straight thriller story, while also writing hilarious dialogue. The main character, Thomas Lang, is a former soldier who falls into a conspiracy involving drugs, weapons, the CIA, and global terror. The action is fairly cinematic sweeping from London, to the countryside to the Alps and farther on and involves a number of exciting action sequences. Laurie's use of humor also distracts the reader from the action and provides for an extra jolt of shock when the plot moves forward.

This is a spy story in the Fleming heroic mold, as opposed to the Ambler murky mode, or the Le Carre morally ambiguous mode, or the McCarry lonely spy mode. It's also a post-Cold War spy story, a period from which we haven't yet seen a really great spy story emerge.

4 comments:

Citizen Reader said...

I LOVED The Gun Seller. I also remember being annoyed that there doesn't seem to be anything Hugh Laurie can't do.

Have you read any of Stephen Fry's books? They didn't do as much for me, even though I think he's the best Jeeves ever.

Tripp said...

I've only read Revenge, which I liked. I liked it even more when I got to the afterword where Fry describes his realization that the book he was writing was a re-write of the Count of Monte Cristo. Funny

Citizen Reader said...

Of course. Only Stephen Fry could "accidentally" re-write a great classic. Both these guys are so talented it makes me sick!

Tripp said...

They are a tad astounding. Did you see Laurie in MI-5 (called Spooks in England) He plays his posh upper class Brit role straight in it and he is great.