Warren Ellis is one of my favourite comic book writers. It was amazing as a long time comic book fan to see how quickly he grasped comic book writing. Yes there was growing pains but he seemed to not do much in the way of wrong.
And then he got better.
Today, his work on The Authority and Planetary set not only high standards of work but in many ways became the comics to be compared to. His exploration of genres and genres within genres is nothing short of amazing. As many comic writers end up doing, Ellis began to branch out into other types of writing, including novels. His first, Crooked Little Vein was and intriguing take on both the detective novel and road trips. It explored a bit of the unknown sexual areas of the US and in a weird way, the novel was also kind of a romance. It was pretty much everything you expected from a Warren Ellis novel: well written, incredibly engaging and different.
So it was with great anticipation I awaited his second novel, Gun Machine.
It was worth the wait.
Gun Machine follows a NY cop, Tallow, after his worst day on the job. After responding to a routine call, Tallow’s partner is shot dead and he has managed to find an apartment filled with guns. All of them are on set on the walls of the apartment in an intricate pattern.
And as we discover, every single one of them are linked to an unsolved murder.
Tallow isn’t the kind of cop you see on CSI or NYPD Blue. He’s smart but he’s lapsed into a job coma until he finds this apartment. He just doesn’t really care anymore but when he’s thrust onto a case that is probably going to be the end of him in one way or another we start to see signs of life.
Going further would spoil the book for you and to be honest, I really don’t want to do that. You deserve to follow this through without interruption.
What I will say is that Ellis has written a solid novel. Much like Crooked Little Vein, it’s well written, engaging and different. One of the main surprises for me is how straightforward the novel is compared to his last work. There is a bit of craziness involved but it’s much more toned down. From other authors this might seem like it was an attempt to pander for a wider audience but in Gun Machine, it really feels like Ellis is trying something new in terms of his style.
Gun Machine was a great read and I’d recommend it to both comic book fans and those that love a good read.
And remember loyal readers, if you’re going to geek out, GEEK HARD!