Review: Gun Machine

Warren Ellis has the skills and ambition to take a genre piece and lead it to uncommon places.  Gun Machine is a thriller that boasts a fabulous hook – a cop literally falls into a cathedral of guns each tied to an unsolved murder – but Ellis has more on his mind than just creeping the reader out.  He doesn’t let it get in the way of a propulsive thriller, though.  Gun Machine hits all the police thriller beats, but comes at them all from slightly askew.

So, take the cop/thriller stuff as all there.  In addition, Ellis brings us many views of New York – subjective and objective – each of which is telling part of the story that makes Gun Machine turn. He brings us larger than life characters who still have a soul, and a redemptive arc for his protagonist that is measured in realistically sized steps. Each turn of the story has some whorls that tug at the reader’s interest, but the whole machine never stops moving forward.

It isn’t perfect, of course.  For all the different perspectives that he tries to capture New York from, I did not get the feeling of being there.  Key locations feel photoshopped into place, and the place isn’t quite recognizable as either the New York I’ve visited on occasion or the fictional versions I’ve seen.  The sense of place doesn’t emerge as strongly as I was expecting.

Realistic or not (whatever that means), Ellis’s New York is the scene of a breakneck race where every turn, taken or not, offers a glimpse of fascinating possibilities.

Strongly recommended.

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