I originally noticed this bearded author, an interesting voice on Twitter and wow, also apparently a collaborator with Nick Cave in Grinderman and on the excellent White Lunar. Oops, wrong. The Warren Ellis who wrote Gun Machine is quite a different bloke from the Aussie-musician Warren Ellis. That settled, on to the book, which is good.
It’s a New York police procedural, which has been done before; but not like this. The killer is different, the cop is different, the corruption in the pillars of power (that’s almost a cliché now too) is different. And cop shows are all about the ambience; does it make you feel like you are there? Yep, this one does; and in a pretty damn strange place, too.
It’s not all shadowy noir; the supporting cast is often hilarious. Which is good because our protagonist Tallow is remarkably blank; a screen on which the story is projected. It’s not the technique I’d pick for a detective novel, but then I don’t write those and Mr Ellis does, very nicely too. Recommended.
I’ve never read any of Mr Ellis’ graphic novels, which are said to be excellent. I will now; but I bet the pictures won’t be as groovy as the ones that Gun Machine drew on the walls of my mind.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Ambroise Bachot (Feb 03 2013, at 17:44)
I actually just finished Gun Machine this afternoon. I am a fan of some of Ellis's earlier work -- Transmet and Desolation Jones -- but was a bit disappointed by his earlier long fiction (Crooked Little Vein). The dialogue and prose was stellar but the plot and pacing seemed off. Ellis nailed it, however, with Gun Machine. The procedural element provided the structure that really lets Ellis write. As always, he seems to take the stew of modern culture and news and turn it narrative elements. It almost feels like he raided my personal RSS feed! In Gun Machine, however, we also get poetry. Imagine the manuscript of Ian Rankin's attempt to rewrite The Butcher's Boy while cribbing liberally from Wired, Make, and Weekly World News. Now imagine that the whole thing was edited by EE Cummings. The result is Gun Machine.