Friday, June 20, 2008

BOOKS: The Gun Seller

Read any of the Star Trek novelizations and a LOT of the visualization is already done for you. You KNOW what Commander Picard, Captain Sisko or Spock or any other Trek character looks like. You can even hear their voices. It often adds a whole layer of enjoyment to the reading of the book. Your mileage MAY vary if you actually like to do your own imagineering.

Which brings me to the book of this post, Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller. This is NOT some science fictional escapade by Laurie's character, House, as he gives up the practice of medical guessing for the fine art of weapons dealing. It doesn't feature Laurie's signature American TV character at all. And yet, it is impossible to visualize Thomas Lang as anything other than a healthy version of House.

Thomas Lang, the 'hero' of the book is a grizzled Scots Guards vet. He's a bit less gung ho than a real mercenary, but basically rents himself out for situations that often end up in violence. He's actually introduced mid-violent encounter right off the bat. A three-page discourse on breaking arms follows immediately. All the while, he gives a running commentary that could come right from the mouth of Gregory House. It's dispassionate and involved all at the same time. And all the while, you cannot NOT hear House speaking the Queen's English as it should be spoken, all the while cocking an eyebrow.

Does that add or subtract to the book, since it really ISN'T a House book? Actually it DOES add a bit. The rest of the enjoyment comes from a slightly convulated tale of Lang falling afoul of the various spook groups in England and in the States. He goes undercover in a faux terrorist group at the behest of his 'handlers' due to a bad case of puppy love. It all works out in the end, with Lang hand-in-hand with his true lady love.

Along the way, much booze and many cigarettes are consumed, Brit slang is slung around with abandon, and we learn far too much about guns and cars. If that sounds like your cup of tea, have at it!

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