Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun Machine - Warren Ellis

First line: "On playing back the 911 recording, it'd seem that Mrs. Stegman was more concerned that the man outside her apartment door was naked than that he had a big shotgun."

Detective John Tallow is at a point in his career where he's simply going through the motions. But when his partner is killed by a crazy shotgun-wielding naked man in an apartment building, Tallow discovers a residence that is filled with guns. All kinds of guns. And when the forensics crew starts testing and examining the guns they discover a strange and unwelcome fact. Every single gun is tied to an unsolved crime in New York. Upon further investigation they discover each of those guns also has historical significance.

Tallow, supposed to be out on mental health leave due to his partner's death, is summoned back in and saddled with all of the unsolved murders that have just been unearthed due to his discovery in the apartment building. Meanwhile, the owner of the apartment wants his guns back and his identity to remain hidden. The only way to accomplish that is to take out John Tallow. And thus begins a deadly game of cat and mouse...

The Hachette Audio unabridged version of Gun Machine is narrated by Reg E. Cathey and I don't think they could have picked a better narrator for this gritty, hard boiled police procedural. Cathey's tone and pacing mimics Tallow's worn out, beat up personality. At the same time Cathey counters that with Tallow's peculiar partners from the CSU: Scarly, a self-proclaimed "autistic", and Bat, a neurotic techno-geek. Ellis' well crafted humor emanates from the interactions between these three, and Cathey alternates seamlessly as he reads these scenes.

The plot of Gun Machine is as meticulously assembled as the guns that line the walls of the infamous apartment. Ellis maintains a high level of suspense and mystery throughout, while Cathey maintains his tone in direct proportion to the characters' knowledge, not the reader's knowledge. In other words, he doesn't grow overly dramatic unless it is Scarly having a melt down. This aides the reader in appreciating all the significant detail of the narration instead of overly anticipating the novel's climax. MORE than half the fun of this novel is the journey and hearing it end is a heart-breaking disappointment.

Ellis has populated Gun Machine with distinctively rich characters, characters I hope we will see again. Cathey extends the uniqueness of each character through his dynamic aural representations.

I experience stories through all varieties of delivery and Gun Machine is a superb crime novel, but I'm especially glad I listened to Gun Machine. This is a top-notch audiobook and a sensational listening experience.

Gun Machine is available in unabridged audio from Hatchette Audio and in hardcover print (ISBN: 9780316187404) from Mulholland Books.


theguildedearlobe April 11, 2013 at 1:20 PM  

I only had one problem with this book, It took me a while to not picture Reg E. Cathey as the main character because I am such a fan of his acing, and the MC here is nothing like him. Yet, once I got past that, it was a great listen.

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