From my Kindle: The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie, 1996 (e-book format).
When not starring as Dr. Gregory House in the TV comedy “House MD”, winning Golden Globe awards, and being the highest paid actor in a US drama series, Hugh Laurie writes.
His first novel, The Gun Seller, was published in 1996. Wary of being perceived as just another celebrity writer wanna-be, Laurie submitted his manuscript under a pseudonym and only revealed his identity to the public after it was published. It went to the top of the bestsellers lists. The Gun Seller has been translated into French and also topped sales in the France.
He is due to come out with another novel, The Paper Soldier (Paper Soldiers in the UK), release date unknown.
The Gun Seller is like Ian Fleming meets PG Wodehouse. Imagine a more intelligent Bertie Wooster as James Bond. Laurie is a hilarious writer and his first novel is a campy foray into spy thrillers laced with heavily ironic British humor.
From Chapter One:
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 green and hot and cold and altogether howlingly unbearable?
Well exactly. Of course. The right thing to do, the only thing to do, is to get it over with as quickly as possible. Break the arm, ply the brandy, be a good citizen. There can be no other answer.
Unless unless unless.
What if you were to hate the person on the other end of the arm? I mean really, really hate them.
Rayner, I estimated, was ten years older than me. Which was fine. Nothing wrong with that. I have good, warm, non-arm-breaking relationships with plenty of people who are ten years older than me…But Rayner was also three inches taller than me, four stones heavier, and at least eight however-you-measure-violence units more violent. He was uglier than a car park, with a big, hairless skull that dipped and bulged like a balloon full of spanners, and his flattened, fighter’s nose, apparently drawn on his face by someone using their left hand, or perhaps even their left foot, spread out in a meandering, lopsided delta under the rough slab of his forehead.
And God Almighty, what a forehead. Bricks, knives, bottles, and reasoned arguments had, in their time, bounced harmlessly off this massive frontal plane, leaving only the feeblest indentations between its deep, widely-spaced pores.
Image of the extremely good looking and talented Mr. Laurie found here.