The Gun Seller

The Gun Seller

  • reading group guide
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.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671020828 | 
  • October 1998
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I saw a man this morning
Who did not wish to die;


P. S. Stewart

Imagine that you have to break someone's arm.

Right or left, doesn't matter. The point is that you have to break it, because if you don't...well, that doesn't matter either. Let's just say bad things will happen if you don't.

Now, my question goes like this: do you break the arm quickly -- snap, whoops, sorry, here let me help you with that improvised splint -- or do you drag the whole business out for a good eight minutes, every now and then increasing the pressure in the tiniest of increments, until the pain becomes pink and... see more

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
  1. 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.
  2. Who is "the gun seller" of the novel's title?
  3. 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?
  4. To enjoy The Gun Seller, do you think a reader must be familiar with traditional spy novels? Why or why not?
  5. 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.
  6. Discuss how much Solomon knew about Graduate Studies and when he knew it.
  7. Note some of the ways Laurie sends up clichés, for instance: "She turned towards me and narrowed her eyes....Narrowed them horizontally, not vertically."
  8. How has Laurie altered your opinion of Volvos or Fiat Pandas?
  9. According to The Gun Seller, why do diplomats e
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About the Author

Hugh Laurie
Photo Credit: Ian White

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