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After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable p After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose. Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he's walked into a veritable deal with the devil. An unholy bargain that has made possible the rise of some of Manhattan's most prominent captains of industry. A hunter who performs his deadly acts as a sacrifice to the old gods of Manhattan, who may, quite simply, be the most prolific murderer in New York City's history.


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After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable p After a shootout claims the life of his partner in a condemned tenement building on Pearl Street, Detective John Tallow unwittingly stumbles across an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, each weapon leads to a different, previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years or more and storing the weapons together for some inexplicable purpose. Confronted with the sudden emergence of hundreds of unsolved homicides, Tallow soon discovers that he's walked into a veritable deal with the devil. An unholy bargain that has made possible the rise of some of Manhattan's most prominent captains of industry. A hunter who performs his deadly acts as a sacrifice to the old gods of Manhattan, who may, quite simply, be the most prolific murderer in New York City's history.

30 review for Gun Machine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Okay. First off, it's pretty irritating to me that someone who writes comics as good as Warren Ellis does can write a novel as good as this. It strikes me as profoundly unfair that Ellis hops storytelling media with such apparent ease. It would be nice if you bobbled the ball just a *little* bit, man. Just to be polite.... In short. I really enjoyed it. Police procedural isn't my normal stomping ground, but honestly, I'll read any book that so tightly written, witty, and cunning in its language. Okay. First off, it's pretty irritating to me that someone who writes comics as good as Warren Ellis does can write a novel as good as this. It strikes me as profoundly unfair that Ellis hops storytelling media with such apparent ease. It would be nice if you bobbled the ball just a *little* bit, man. Just to be polite.... In short. I really enjoyed it. Police procedural isn't my normal stomping ground, but honestly, I'll read any book that so tightly written, witty, and cunning in its language. Good characters too. Interesting collateral information, too. Honestly? There's just a lot of stuff here to like... There's a bit of the old ultra-violence in here. And it's graphic and vivid enough that I'm guessing a fair number of people will find off-putting. Some people would call it gratuitous. Other people would call it atmospheric. And both sides could be able to make a good case for their particular argument, as the most vivid and graphic elements are in no way central to the story. Personally? I view it as more of a signature Ellis flourish than anything. My only regret is that it might keep people from enjoying the story.... Is it worth your time? Yes. Especially if you like mysteries, police procedurals, clever language, quick-moving stories, and NYC esoterica. On the other hand, if descriptions of graphic/disturbing real-world violence and man's-inhumanity-to-man are a deal-breaker. Then this book probably isn't for you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    A couple of NYPD detectives respond to a call about a screaming naked man with a shotgun roaming the halls of an apartment building. Surprisingly, it’s not Ted Nugent. Unfortunately, John Tallow’s partner and only real friend is killed in the ensuing mêlée. Afterwards, while the cops check the building for injured people, John makes a startling discovery. Behind a high tech security door in one apartment are hundreds of hand guns arranged in intricate patterns on the walls and floors. Initial ba A couple of NYPD detectives respond to a call about a screaming naked man with a shotgun roaming the halls of an apartment building. Surprisingly, it’s not Ted Nugent. Unfortunately, John Tallow’s partner and only real friend is killed in the ensuing mêlée. Afterwards, while the cops check the building for injured people, John makes a startling discovery. Behind a high tech security door in one apartment are hundreds of hand guns arranged in intricate patterns on the walls and floors. Initial ballistic tests indicate that each one was used in an unsolved homicide. John has stumbled onto the trophy room of a very deadly killer who is slightly peeved that his life’s work has just been seized by the cops. I haven’t read a lot of Warren Ellis’s comics, but I really enjoyed his extremely funny and twisted Crooked Little Vein. This one certainly has an intriguing set-up for a story. I also liked the character of John who is a smart cop but has essentially been coasting and letting his partner do the heavy lifting up until now. John would rather just hole up in his apartment with his books and music rather than deal with people, and I think a lot of Goodreaders can relate to that. Ellis’s portrayal of the Crime Scene Unit techs as a bunch of slightly hostile weirdoes that have no great love for the cops was refreshing after being TV brainwashed that CSI is the greatest power in law enforcement. While there’s a lot I liked, if felt just a little flat to me. There’s an interesting idea in that everyone from his lieutenant to the CSU techs are pissed off at John for finding the room and essentially giving them all a bag of shit to hold. However, I found it hard to believe the idea that everyone is just trying to shelve the case. Except for one character very late in the book, no one mentions what kind of outrage would occur if it was discovered that the NYPD found a room full of murder weapons and just ignored it. I don’t live in New York, but as I understand it, that would be the kind of story that the local media might find interesting. I know Ellis wasn’t going for an ultra-realistic procedural here, so that could be overlooked, but I also wasn’t super thrilled with the ultimate resolution of the story. (view spoiler)[I was more interested when it seemed like there might be some kind of supernatural component, but when it turns out to just be yet another crazy serial killer off his meds, it was kind of a let-down. (hide spoiler)] Still, it was entertaining enough with a unique story and few dark laughs sprinkled in with the graphic violence. Three and a half stars with a smiley face. A smiley face with a gun! Also posted at Shelf Inflicted.

  3. 5 out of 5

    picoas picoas

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. My first contact with Warren Ellis. When I started reading the book I only knew that the movie “Red” with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren was based on a book written by him. Apart from that I had no idea who Warren Ellis was (now I know...), that is, what kind of books he'd written, what his Weltanschauung was, etc, etc. What a fantastic book. "Visceral" is the word that comes to mind after having finished it. Hard-boiled fiction of the hi If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. My first contact with Warren Ellis. When I started reading the book I only knew that the movie “Red” with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren was based on a book written by him. Apart from that I had no idea who Warren Ellis was (now I know...), that is, what kind of books he'd written, what his Weltanschauung was, etc, etc. What a fantastic book. "Visceral" is the word that comes to mind after having finished it. Hard-boiled fiction of the highest calibre.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I will get the negative out of the way first. I would not have read this book with a different author’s name on it. Police procedural, serial killer, New York, Detective who doesn't fit it, cold case, Crime scene unit, sorry I fell asleep writing that list of almost fatally boring elements of popular culture. I love Ellis’s comic work, and enjoyed his quirky, weird, and disgusting first novel but was confused why he choose to write something so ubiquitous and crassly commercial. As I read along I will get the negative out of the way first. I would not have read this book with a different author’s name on it. Police procedural, serial killer, New York, Detective who doesn't fit it, cold case, Crime scene unit, sorry I fell asleep writing that list of almost fatally boring elements of popular culture. I love Ellis’s comic work, and enjoyed his quirky, weird, and disgusting first novel but was confused why he choose to write something so ubiquitous and crassly commercial. As I read along more stuff came up that worried me including a lesbian character written like a man, and savage killer used by society elites to achieve success. I should probably have given up but I kept going and Ellis in the end delivered a solid entertainment, probably still fairly slight, but solid enough, the characters gradually pulled free from their clichés and became real men and women, and the book became exciting in a good T.V. episode way. The ambiance of violence the story takes place in seems to evoke the bad old days of New York city rather than present reality which I found a little distracting(it had less murders than Chicago last year). There is rumor that this may develop into a TV show. Warren Ellis definitely deserves a TV show, though I’m not sure we need another Police Procedural.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    Man I [mostly] love Warren Ellis's writing, but the investigative plot of Gun Machine really could've used a bit more work. I guess both are consequences of Ellis's transition from comic book writer to novelist, his style is just so uniquely compelling and definitely not something I see every day, even with the sheer number of books I typically read. Yet at the same time, the logic behind the murder mystery really needed more polishing - it's not bad compared to a typical comic book plot but for Man I [mostly] love Warren Ellis's writing, but the investigative plot of Gun Machine really could've used a bit more work. I guess both are consequences of Ellis's transition from comic book writer to novelist, his style is just so uniquely compelling and definitely not something I see every day, even with the sheer number of books I typically read. Yet at the same time, the logic behind the murder mystery really needed more polishing - it's not bad compared to a typical comic book plot but for a crime novel it feels kind of lacking. Ellis's style is hard to describe, it's wildly descriptive, irreverent, and at times crass and shocking. Best I can do is probably a quote: It was a grim gray thing, the squat building, a fossil husk for little humans to huddle in. Every other building on this side of the block had had, at the very least, dermabrasion and its teeth fixed. Two stood on either side of the old apartment building like smug Botoxed thirtysomethings bracing an elderly relative. Many of them looked empty, but nonetheless there were flocks of young men in good suits and bad ties with phones nailed to their heads, and rainbows of angular women stabbing out texts with sharp thumbs. The shotgun blast from inside the old building made them all clatter away like flamingos. The problem though is, even though that quote really demonstrates how dissonant Ellis's style is from the mainstream, it's not even representative of the writing in the book, or even of how disturbingly fascinating Ellis's writing can be. Like there's a passage about a guy whose head's blown off with a shotgun, one of his eyes flies out while still connected by the optic nerve to his blown-in head, and Ellis's musing about how the guy can see in two different perspectives for the few seconds before his death - it's weird, it's disturbing, but it's oddly fascinating. Let's just say, after this, I'm definitely a fan of Warren Ellis's style, although I do take minor issue with his dialogue, filled with constant use of the f word without really any sort of purpose - it's a bit too pretentiously gritty for my tastes. Needless to say, I was really into this book after the first few chapters and Ellis's writing had me hooked from page one. Yet, the more I actually thought about the actual plot, the more my enthusiasm dimmed. I don't have a problem with the star of the show, Detective John Tallow, who Ellis writes as the world weary detective thrust onto the case of the apartment loaded with the relics of hundreds of unsolved homicides - I thought his characterization, as well as his interactions with the CSU supporting characters, were quite good. My problem is that too much of the investigation hinged on coincidences that, had they not occurred, would've left the plot going nowhere, and it really is a symptom of lazy plotting that one chance meeting in particular between Tallow and a certain suspect's wife had to occur for the rest of the book to make any sense. I am happy that Tallow was quick to catch onto the coincidences, he made the obvious logical conclusions once he realized what had happened instead of continuing to be clueless or in the dark, but that really didn't make up for the fact that the coincidences had to happen in the first place. I guess another part of it is that I'm really disappointed once all the pieces fell together. Once I figure out who the villain is, who his supporters are, the point of the apartment and the guns, I wasn't really satisfied. For all the twists and turns, the conspiracy felt too small and localized, the villain too small and trivial, and I wasn't really into the last part of the book when Tallow actually unravels the plot and puts everyone behind bars - even though the climatical scene itself was just fucking hilarious. I guess I put too much stock into the various crimes announced on the police scanner as Tallow's going around the city looking into clues; their point in retrospect is to show how easy it was for the murderer to hide his murders with so many others occurring in New York, but I really thought there'd be a connection there that ultimately didn't pan out. So Gun Machine was a lot of fun at first, but as a crime novel the plot really didn't turn out to be anything more special than what I've read in the past. I'm not disappointed, but neither am I thrilled.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Warren Ellis reimagines New York City as a puzzle with the most dangerous pieces of all: GUNS. After a shooting on Pearl Street claims the life of Detective John Tallow’s partner, he unwittingly stumbles into an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, it is found that each gun is connected to a previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years and keeping each gun as a trophy. Tallow has been put on the case and with the help of two CSU employees they are soon Warren Ellis reimagines New York City as a puzzle with the most dangerous pieces of all: GUNS. After a shooting on Pearl Street claims the life of Detective John Tallow’s partner, he unwittingly stumbles into an apartment stacked high with guns. When examined, it is found that each gun is connected to a previously unsolved murder. Someone has been killing people for twenty years and keeping each gun as a trophy. Tallow has been put on the case and with the help of two CSU employees they are soon on the hunt for what could be the most prolific mass murderer in New York History. I recently read Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein and while I enjoyed the book I felt it was missing something. Gun Machine has that missing element; blending Ellis’ humour this book offers the violence with that dark cynicism that his other book was missing. Gun Machine starts out with the loss of Detective Tallow’s partner and while he should be mourning this tragedy he has been forced into what could be the biggest case of his career. Pairing with a couple of gothic CSU agents to help with forensics, Tallow begins to uncover a huge New York conspiracy. Tallow is the perfect lead for this type of story, stuck between hating his job and the sudden loss of his only friend and partner; he is thrown into the deep end with no help at all. He struggles to make sense of this room full of guns and with the help of his two misfit sidekicks they begin to form an unlikely team. While Ellis does favour the hard-boiled genre a little, this is more of a crime thriller than anything else. The blend of humour and his cynical outlook are what make this book worth reading. Crooked Little Vein tried to blend the two together but ended up focusing too heavily on the humour and the weird fetishes to really work too well. Gun Machine seems to get that balance right, turning this into a purely entertaining escapist novel. Gun Machine really works at what it sets out to do, not too heavy on the humour, violence or dark aspects. It’s been creating a buzz about it and it is well deserved, I loved reading this book and didn’t want it to end. Sure it’s not without its flaws but for the escapist element, this book really is worth reading. This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2013/...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicolo

    Reading this novel by one of favorite comicbook writers, Warren Ellis, I couldn't help but compare it to another favorite comibook writer/novelist, Neil Gaiman. Initially, I thought Gun Machine had a little of American Gods, of the old subsumed by the new, or of Neverwhere, of secret maps and more secret cities. Far from it, this book is more grounded in reality, it's a cop story done the Ellis way. If I'm going to compare Gun Machine to something, I might as well compare to Ellis' prior works. T Reading this novel by one of favorite comicbook writers, Warren Ellis, I couldn't help but compare it to another favorite comibook writer/novelist, Neil Gaiman. Initially, I thought Gun Machine had a little of American Gods, of the old subsumed by the new, or of Neverwhere, of secret maps and more secret cities. Far from it, this book is more grounded in reality, it's a cop story done the Ellis way. If I'm going to compare Gun Machine to something, I might as well compare to Ellis' prior works. There is a little Planetary in this novel. The protagonist, John Tallow, experienced a rebirth at the death of his partner and in taking this most extraordinary case. Like Tallow, Elijah Snow woke up from what could ne described as a deep sleep of a memory wipe. Both have two partners, a weird one and an amazon; and if Snow has the Four, Tallow has the hunter and the cabal of three. Taken on it own merits, this was a great read; and since it's an Ellis book, it's intelligently written and well researched and the reader becomes smarter after reading it. I still remember when I found the lone copy of the hardcover at a discounted price; I've been looking for a copy since last year. I was pretty stoked and my expectations were more or less met.

  8. 4 out of 5

    James

    Super noir schlock in a good way that will selectively appeal. Warren Ellis takes some stock crime elements 1. Place: New York City with the violence amped back up to crack epidemic levels 2. Hero: Embittered numb police detective who somehow rouses himself despite the rules to solve the case man because there is a killer out there and nobody gives a damm 3. Villain: Psycho homicidal maniac with deadly skills and a gun fetish 4. Conspiracy: Greedy capitalists with no scruples out to control the wor Super noir schlock in a good way that will selectively appeal. Warren Ellis takes some stock crime elements 1. Place: New York City with the violence amped back up to crack epidemic levels 2. Hero: Embittered numb police detective who somehow rouses himself despite the rules to solve the case man because there is a killer out there and nobody gives a damm 3. Villain: Psycho homicidal maniac with deadly skills and a gun fetish 4. Conspiracy: Greedy capitalists with no scruples out to control the world 5. Violence: loads of it starting with naked man with a shotgun blasting out the brains of embittered heroes gung ho partner before being gunned down and pretty much covering off a myriad of ways to kill men, women, children and squirrels. What elevates this, actually elevate is entirely the wrong word, but makes it enjoyable is the hero is actually a well drawn believable introvert, who you cannot help but like as he trudges about, the villain is interestingly delusional, and the side kicks are fleshed out. While the violence and plot are very cartoonish the characters are really well drawn. The book is also really funny in parts, which helped me get past the splatter. Sophisticated it is not, readable absolutely.

  9. 5 out of 5

    J Edward Tremlett

    NYC Detective John Tallow is "that kind" of cop. Not good, bad, stunning, or stupid -- the one who's just sort of there. After four years of being partnered with a real go-getter, he's pretty much given up on trying to do his job; he's content to live in his head, wallow in a cluttered apartment, and refuse to even try to have a social life for fear of risking what remains of his emotional stability. That changes one day, when his partner gets shot in the brains by a naked guy with a shotgun, qui NYC Detective John Tallow is "that kind" of cop. Not good, bad, stunning, or stupid -- the one who's just sort of there. After four years of being partnered with a real go-getter, he's pretty much given up on trying to do his job; he's content to live in his head, wallow in a cluttered apartment, and refuse to even try to have a social life for fear of risking what remains of his emotional stability. That changes one day, when his partner gets shot in the brains by a naked guy with a shotgun, quite upset that his tenement had been bought up and he was going to have to leave in three months. But it isn't so much the fact that his partner's been killed that rouses Tallow from his own, living death, but what a blast from that same shotgun has revealed. Beyond the hole in the wall lies an apartment that has been literally decorated with guns. They're mounted on the walls, and strewn all over the floor, in what appear to be complex patterns. And, upon forensic examination, they turn out to have all been involved in an unsolved murder. Of course, this is New York City, so what should have gotten John a clap on the shoulder for finding something like this instead earns him the anger of his Lieutenant, and the undying enmity of the Crime Scene Units. It also awards him the understanding that -- grieving and broken or not -- he'd better find out all he can about these guns and how they got there, or else he'll be hung out to dry. While it's fairly obvious that his Lt. expects him to fail at this, and is most likely setting him up to be the ablative armor around her own behind, Tallow doesn't do the obvious thing (which would involve homicide by office furniture). Instead, he jumpstarts the almost-atrophied cop parts of his brain, hits the pavement, and starts following the trail to see where it leads him. A pair of questionably sane -- but unquestionably competent -- CSU techs quickly become indispensable partners in his investigation, which soon takes him from the nasty streets to the corporate offices and guarded, keep-like apartments of the city's new rich. It also shows him maps of the Manhattan he never really knew about -- old and worn guides to things buried deep under the pavement, and new gazetteers of the electrical fire running from Wall Street and back. But as Tallow starts investigating the strange nature of what he'd found in that room, and discovering how wide and deep this may actually go, the mysterious individual who was using the apartment becomes aware of him. And this, given the man's almost supernatural command of the city, and how to move through it unseen, means that the detective's return to life may be short-lived, indeed. Can John Tallow and his allies discover the secret of the Gun Machine before the Hunter makes one or more of them a part of it? Warren Ellis' sophomore prose outing may disappoint fans who come to this straight from Crooked Little Vein, as it is nowhere near that book's levels of truly inspired and subversive insanity. However, long-time fans of his quite massive body of graphic novels will feel quite at home; his tendency to meld intriguing and/or dark scientific concepts, bawdy and/or weird dialogue, and eccentric and/or somewhat-cracked characters is very much at play in Gun Machine. Indeed, while it lacks Crooked's roll-on-the-floor-sharting-your-liver-out-of-your-navel-while-laughing, wholly and totally over the top nature, Ellis remains a goldmine of outlandish outbursts and scatological insults, along with gross and horrible asides that are sometimes funny, and sometimes heartbreaking -- sometimes at the same time. More importantly, at least for his prose writing career, Ellis has written an intriguing, suspenseful, and -- best of all -- very accessible police procedural mystery. His characters quickly earn your interest and sympathy, the mystery deepens and puzzles at every turn, and the adversary is a wily monster (insane? supernatural? both?) whose doings soon begin to inspire genuine dread. It's not a perfect puzzlebox, unfortunately. At 308 pages, Gun Machine is a feverishly short read, and its brevity shows in spots; aspects of the conundrum could have been expounded upon more, and some events and character relationships could have stood to be embellished or explained in more detail. But those nitpicks fall by the wayside for the simple reason that, put simply, Ellis knows how to make you root for a character, and set up a sting. He also knows how to nail an ending, which I won't give away, except to say that I hope this will not be the last we see of John Tallow. Ellis has hit a good, comfortable prose stride in Gun Machine, and I'd sure like to see him reload this quirky weapon in the near future. Gun Machine comes out New Years Day of 2013, and will very much be worth crawling out of bed for.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Warren Ellis takes a swipe at the police procedural genre. When he's doing the mechanics of getting through the plot and novel-standard descriptive prose, it's pretty much like watching dogs fuck: seen one, seen 'em all. Where he shines - like laugh out loud so people think I've taken on Ellis' insane glamours, or wide-eyed at the ideas he's stringing together - is when people find themselves in a general state of disrepair. Like this: "Fuck me," Bat gasped. "It's like an angel shat ice cream-cof Warren Ellis takes a swipe at the police procedural genre. When he's doing the mechanics of getting through the plot and novel-standard descriptive prose, it's pretty much like watching dogs fuck: seen one, seen 'em all. Where he shines - like laugh out loud so people think I've taken on Ellis' insane glamours, or wide-eyed at the ideas he's stringing together - is when people find themselves in a general state of disrepair. Like this: "Fuck me," Bat gasped. "It's like an angel shat ice cream-coffee rainbows in my mouth." The main character is pretty unattractive - not terribly well-liked but not a bastard, pretty smart but hardly a superstar, and has few social or personal relationship skills but isn't autistic or sociopathic. It was really fun to keep expecting that Ellis would drop some hidden quality from this dude on us to make him a superhero and not just a decent cop. The supporting characters however were a blast - hilariously quirky and unapologetic, with defined skills and mental powers. The CSI's were mental, his lieutenant was kick ass, the CSI's wife is exactly what we needed. The suspects and weirdos were no slouch - memorable. Story moves along pretty quickly once the tone and main conflict is set - it takes Ellis a few chapters to get us properly introduced and then he just starts playing the chess pieces and building up to an exciting finish. By the time I finished this it was midnight, my heart was pounding and I wasn't sure I actually caught all the Rube Goldberg moves I have to admit I was expecting more of the Crackling Dialogue, science fiction futurism and social commentary that I've come to love from Ellis. The book still makes some great points - not at all what I thought he'd focus on (New York, future of policing). There are still some great lines and unforgiving relationships. Did Ellis get freaked out by the act of writing something he'd never done, and spent his creative energy learning the craft of the Police Procedural? Maybe. Certainly he did a strong job at the craft, and still reminded me who was behind the wheel. A little of his bitter anger was definitely missing tho. Hope to see that Warren in his next full-length Marvel graphic novel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I don't know if I've read a more stereotypical book in the last 5 years from a character standpoint... Let's see, you have: - The "tough on his luck" loner detective who doesn't do his job by the book but he's the best they've got. - The "between a wall and a hard place" woman police sergeant who demands a lot of her cops and has their respect but has to deal with a lot of crap when her hands aren't tied by the higher-ups. - The dirty ex-cop/politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar. - The a I don't know if I've read a more stereotypical book in the last 5 years from a character standpoint... Let's see, you have: - The "tough on his luck" loner detective who doesn't do his job by the book but he's the best they've got. - The "between a wall and a hard place" woman police sergeant who demands a lot of her cops and has their respect but has to deal with a lot of crap when her hands aren't tied by the higher-ups. - The dirty ex-cop/politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar. - The abusive and socially awkward CSIs. - The well-liked, but ill-fated partner. The only person who wasn't an outright caricature of every cop drama of the last 15 years was the killer and he turned out even worse in the end. Sorry Warren. I can't say I'm going to be checking out any of your other books...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    With some great visuals, I was not surprised to learn that Warren Ellis writes comic books; in fact, this could be converted into an excellent graphic novel, particularly the "Gun Machine" itself. The highlights are: a frustrated protagonist seriously down on his luck, a group of oddly endearing CSI colleagues, and an interesting juxtaposition of modern/historical Manhattan. I wish the bad guys were better developed, especially the main villain, who base motivations were mostly unexplained and a With some great visuals, I was not surprised to learn that Warren Ellis writes comic books; in fact, this could be converted into an excellent graphic novel, particularly the "Gun Machine" itself. The highlights are: a frustrated protagonist seriously down on his luck, a group of oddly endearing CSI colleagues, and an interesting juxtaposition of modern/historical Manhattan. I wish the bad guys were better developed, especially the main villain, who base motivations were mostly unexplained and a sudden ending.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Michael Connelly, Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain are a few of the authors who have made a home for themselves writing police procedural, a sub genre of mystery novels. Typically involving a police detective investigation of realistic crimes, mostly murder, following clues and a cop's intuition more than CSI, although forensics does play a role, these novels can be very engrossing. Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis definitely falls into the better part of this genre with conniving criminals, a psychopathic Michael Connelly, Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain are a few of the authors who have made a home for themselves writing police procedural, a sub genre of mystery novels. Typically involving a police detective investigation of realistic crimes, mostly murder, following clues and a cop's intuition more than CSI, although forensics does play a role, these novels can be very engrossing. Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis definitely falls into the better part of this genre with conniving criminals, a psychopathic killer and smart intuitive police work. James Tallow is an old school detective married to his job. At a call about a deranged man waving a shotgun around an errant shot blows a hole into a mysterious apartment revealing a wall full of guns. Tasked by his Lieutenant to investigate the trove of guns, Tallow soon finds that every gun is linked to a unsolved murder in some gruesome, ironic way -- a old stolen gun was restored to be used to kill a thief. Two hundred guns, two hundred unsolved crimes, but not unknown crimes. It seems that some men have gotten ahead in their careers through fortuitous death. Leaders of industry have ties to a homicidial maniac, but who has been using who? As Tallow delves into the crimes he is joined by a colorful group of forensic techs with their own skills. They jointly discover that the actual gun used by Son of Sam was used again to kill and that a copy must be involved in protecting the killer. Tallow's intuition about the killer leads to a crucial clue. Meanwhile, the killer -- just named "Hunter", who lives off the land and roadkill, goes after the perfect gun to kill Tallow, and he does not care how many people he has to kill to cover his tracks. Its kill or be killed. The dialogue and plot sparkles in this wild novel. Its definitely worth reading if you like your detectives sharp and smart and your killers mean and diabolical.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    A shotgun blast rains a hail of brain matter and blood down on a single cop who later makes it his mission to rid the world of a maniac collector of sorts, obsessed with weapons owning the bodies of murder victims. John Tallow, a NYPD Detective isn't the typical protagonist in what, on face value, looks like a traditional police procedural. Warren Ellis gives his broken and semi-recluse lead character a voice unlike many detectives I've read in the genre. Perception is key in Tallow's competency, A shotgun blast rains a hail of brain matter and blood down on a single cop who later makes it his mission to rid the world of a maniac collector of sorts, obsessed with weapons owning the bodies of murder victims. John Tallow, a NYPD Detective isn't the typical protagonist in what, on face value, looks like a traditional police procedural. Warren Ellis gives his broken and semi-recluse lead character a voice unlike many detectives I've read in the genre. Perception is key in Tallow's competency, drive, and general policing. Ellis does a great job at making the reader believe one thing only then to take them on a journey as Tallow evolves along with the very personal case he's assigned. In GUN MACHINE, Tallow looses his long time partner after responding to call of a naked man brandishing a shotgun. Little did he know this was to be the start of something much sinister; the origin of events which leads to triple digit homicides and a deeply disturbed killer. Accompanying Tallow are two CSU members who add some much needed comic relief while still playing a key role in the serious nature of the novel. Bat is a nerd/genius, Scarly is a bullish yet endearing character who has steal balls and an iron will (except around her wife). Both add a little something extra to the case and end up forming a great team with Tallow, one I hope readers see much more of. Without delving into the story too much, I can say that GUN MACHINE has all the makings of being the start of a very promising cop series. The characters are well developed with a sense of history and context within the law enforcement community, while the events of GUN MACHINE are sure to have a ripple effect. Fans of the police procedural and noir will revel in GUN MACHINE's well plotted and enjoyable story. This review first appeared on my blog: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspo...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Freesiab

    2.5. My feelings on this book were mixed for most of it but it ultimately let me down. It's an awesome premies but the story seemed to follow the lead detective not the crimes, nor the killer, for most of the book. Sadly, this was the best parts of the book for me. 2.5. My feelings on this book were mixed for most of it but it ultimately let me down. It's an awesome premies but the story seemed to follow the lead detective not the crimes, nor the killer, for most of the book. Sadly, this was the best parts of the book for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leo

    Despite quite liking when I read it, I don't think this deserves 4 stars, so I'm downgrading it to 3. It's a funny thing but when I was reading Gun Machine, I couldn't help but think about Lorenzo Silva's series on Bevilacqua y Chamorro (which started with El lejano país de los estanques). They are both crime books, but I don't think they have anything else in common. Gun Machine was an enjoyable detective story that focused on the resolution of the case via the main character while Silva's serie Despite quite liking when I read it, I don't think this deserves 4 stars, so I'm downgrading it to 3. It's a funny thing but when I was reading Gun Machine, I couldn't help but think about Lorenzo Silva's series on Bevilacqua y Chamorro (which started with El lejano país de los estanques). They are both crime books, but I don't think they have anything else in common. Gun Machine was an enjoyable detective story that focused on the resolution of the case via the main character while Silva's series strikes me more as the story of this guy who happens to be a cop so we'll learn more about it while he's solving cases. I don't know why I though of Silva's series while reading Gun Machine but I know what, while I enjoy both, I'll remember the former for a long time and will continue to think about what I read, while the latter will just remain as a book I liked and just that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART OR WEAK OF STOMACH. And yet, this book is full of heart. Great old-fashioned tired-tough-as-nails-but-with-a-heart-of-gold NYPD detective Tallow stumbles into a serial killer's treasure trove, quite literally, and the fun begins. Ellis populates this rocket ride with endearingly geeky techies and infuriatingly real superior officers- you know, the kind of links in a chain of command that just live to wrap your working end around a tree and put the wench in reverse and NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART OR WEAK OF STOMACH. And yet, this book is full of heart. Great old-fashioned tired-tough-as-nails-but-with-a-heart-of-gold NYPD detective Tallow stumbles into a serial killer's treasure trove, quite literally, and the fun begins. Ellis populates this rocket ride with endearingly geeky techies and infuriatingly real superior officers- you know, the kind of links in a chain of command that just live to wrap your working end around a tree and put the wench in reverse and rip your tree of investigation out of the ground before it bears fruit...ahem, right Ellis does that much better than I do... ...anyway, so, read it, but brace yourself for bare-knuckle action, lots of blood, hard-boiled dialogue, brains-lots and lots of oozy grey matter, CEOs, ECTs, CSUs, a case of PTSD, and police radio's greatest gruesome hits. You'll be happy you did.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donald Armfield

    This is my fifth First Reads from goodreads. I was excited to win this book being a fan of Warren Ellis's Spider Jerusalem in the Trasmetropolitan comics. After his partner death in a condemned building. Detective John Tallow comes across an apartment to the ceiling with guns. Each gun belonging to a previous death. The hunter performs deadly acts a murderer of New York City. Following right behind Tallow every foot step. Tallow must solve the case of the apartment of guns and many other murders t This is my fifth First Reads from goodreads. I was excited to win this book being a fan of Warren Ellis's Spider Jerusalem in the Trasmetropolitan comics. After his partner death in a condemned building. Detective John Tallow comes across an apartment to the ceiling with guns. Each gun belonging to a previous death. The hunter performs deadly acts a murderer of New York City. Following right behind Tallow every foot step. Tallow must solve the case of the apartment of guns and many other murders that haunt him to the end. The cast of characters in this book are very intriguing. Although I found myself trying to pick out the Spider Jerusalem, but only found a quirky dialogue from Tallow's LT. and new partner Scarly. Great read recommended for crime Fiction readers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rex Fuller

    If you like hip/edgy writing...this will scratch that itch like a personal slave...so to speak. At first, it put me off as too fast and loose with reality: a psychotic serial killer is found to have constructed a several hundred gun display of weapons used over decades of the murders in a New York apartment, including the Son of Sam .44 stolen from the police property room. This requires a level of planning not doable by a psychotic, never mind the practical impossibilities. So, I just sat back t If you like hip/edgy writing...this will scratch that itch like a personal slave...so to speak. At first, it put me off as too fast and loose with reality: a psychotic serial killer is found to have constructed a several hundred gun display of weapons used over decades of the murders in a New York apartment, including the Son of Sam .44 stolen from the police property room. This requires a level of planning not doable by a psychotic, never mind the practical impossibilities. So, I just sat back to enjoy the writing and soon figured out the book was a cartoon, in the best sense like Dick Tracy or Star Wars. Reading it that way it becomes a sweet ride...pushing adrenaline like a drag race.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I love Warren Ellis's stories. I love Transmetropolitan and Planetary in particular. Ellis has a knack for taking familiar pop culture shapes and making them new and remarkable. He's also funny, inventive, and into the bargain he can sneak pathos on you when you aren't looking. Oh, and he does great character and dialogue. Gun Machine is very, very Ellis. A detective hunting a serial killer in Manhattan could be totally run of the mill, but it isn't. In that respect the book reminds me of Josh Ba I love Warren Ellis's stories. I love Transmetropolitan and Planetary in particular. Ellis has a knack for taking familiar pop culture shapes and making them new and remarkable. He's also funny, inventive, and into the bargain he can sneak pathos on you when you aren't looking. Oh, and he does great character and dialogue. Gun Machine is very, very Ellis. A detective hunting a serial killer in Manhattan could be totally run of the mill, but it isn't. In that respect the book reminds me of Josh Bazell's brilliant Beat The Reaper or one of Carl Hiaasen's off-kilter thrillers: it's acutely witty, a bit haunting, and huge fun.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kleine

    I can't finish this right now. It started off great. I like Warren Ellis. CROOKED LITTLE VEIN was good. Not so good at parts, but, for the most part, good. GUN MACHINE has a great premise. Sucks you right in. The first 50 pages are very good. But then, it all just sort of fizzles into boredom purgatory. I'm like 80% done with the book. But I've already read 6 others books since GUN MACHINE. And they were all better than GUN MACHINE. Maybe I will finish GUN MACHINE someday. Not right now. I feel I can't finish this right now. It started off great. I like Warren Ellis. CROOKED LITTLE VEIN was good. Not so good at parts, but, for the most part, good. GUN MACHINE has a great premise. Sucks you right in. The first 50 pages are very good. But then, it all just sort of fizzles into boredom purgatory. I'm like 80% done with the book. But I've already read 6 others books since GUN MACHINE. And they were all better than GUN MACHINE. Maybe I will finish GUN MACHINE someday. Not right now. I feel bad for not finishing it, GUN MACHINE. I like Warren Ellis. But, whatever--I just really cannot finish this right now. I have better books I need to read. #letdown

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Describing this book as a "police procedural" is ludicrous unless the police are totally whacked out. This is one of the most amateurish attempts at crime fiction I've ever read. The plot is somewhat interesting but the characters totally unbelievable and the conclusion extremely forced. Paintball booby trapped room- really. Ellis may be a great graphic artist but a crime fiction writer, he is not. Save your money. His other novel "Crooked Little Vein" is even worse- an exaggerated exercise in p Describing this book as a "police procedural" is ludicrous unless the police are totally whacked out. This is one of the most amateurish attempts at crime fiction I've ever read. The plot is somewhat interesting but the characters totally unbelievable and the conclusion extremely forced. Paintball booby trapped room- really. Ellis may be a great graphic artist but a crime fiction writer, he is not. Save your money. His other novel "Crooked Little Vein" is even worse- an exaggerated exercise in perversity. Not someone I would ever want to read again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matthew FitzSimmons

    Well that was just a hell of a good time. The man can write.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    The police procedural filtered through an eagle's scream: Madcap-realist, prescription grade, Mystery-Methamphetamine:: Put this book in your pipe and smoke it! That is all. The police procedural filtered through an eagle's scream: Madcap-realist, prescription grade, Mystery-Methamphetamine:: Put this book in your pipe and smoke it! That is all.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I don't often reread books, or at least not more than once a decade—there's just so much new stuff!—but when a pristine copy of Warren Ellis' novel Gun Machine fell into my hands in the summer of 2018 (for a dollar, which is a crime in and of itself), I couldn't turn it down. This book had to go back on my list. I first read Gun Machine in September 2013, shortly after its original publication. I really liked it then (see below), and this second run-through has only deepened my appreciation for E I don't often reread books, or at least not more than once a decade—there's just so much new stuff!—but when a pristine copy of Warren Ellis' novel Gun Machine fell into my hands in the summer of 2018 (for a dollar, which is a crime in and of itself), I couldn't turn it down. This book had to go back on my list. I first read Gun Machine in September 2013, shortly after its original publication. I really liked it then (see below), and this second run-through has only deepened my appreciation for Ellis' well-crafted thriller. I think I was wrong about it being set in the near future, though—certain indications, such as the unfinished state of the memorial at Ground Zero and the way phones and tablets get used, made me realize that the novel's more contemporary to the time when it was written and published. Gun Machine is a difficult book to classify, even after reading it twice—while its structure is basically that of a hard-boiled police procedural, its antagonist is a ghost of sorts, who moves through New York City unseen, deeply immersed in Native American lore, slipping in and out of the primordial island of Mannahatta as if the modern world were nothing but a dream. But it's also science-fictional—when Ellis talks about network latency, for example, I'm reminded of Neal Stephenson:"The real maps of the great cities of the world are invisible. They're underfoot, or they're wi-fi fields, or they're satellite links. On a global basis, the financial markets' biggest problem is the speed of light. I read a paper last year that said, quite bluntly, that what was holding back the efficiency of the global financial system was most often light-propagation delays. I know a guy in Bonn who thinks he can make a killing by floating an artificial island in the Arabian Sea and putting an uplinked trading center on it, bypassing six different choked systems and the delays inherent in their light cones." —Andrew Machen, p.47 I find myself still unwilling to go into much detail about the plot of Gun Machine—I think this is a book best gone into cold, without many preconceptions, which is probably why I'm focusing more on my reactions to the book than on the book itself. But my initial assessment from five years ago still stands: Gun Machine is a brilliant and complicated mechanism, and—trust me on this—it all works beautifully in the end. {Original review from 2013}: Warren Ellis himself may be more used to holding an iPod than a gun, but he knows how and when to pull the trigger on a plot. William Gibson, who is not especially promiscuous or verbose with his cover blurbs, calls Gun Machine "A mad police procedural. Delightful," which seems pretty much spot-on. I ripped through this violent, bleak but ultimately uplifting near-future police procedural-slash-high-tech thriller in less than 24 otherwise very busy hours. John Tallow and Jim Rosato are police officers in New York City—specifically, in the N.Y.P.D.'s First Precinct in Manhattan. They're partners; have been for a long time... maybe not the best cops ever, but at least they have complementary flaws. The setting and the characters show how transmetropolitan (heh) Ellis is; he's a Londoner, but there are very few places where Britishisms intrude. It's the near future—the tech is a little better, maybe, but society's definitely gotten worse. It reminded me of the decayed NYC in the "Harry Canyon" sequence of the movie Heavy Metal (1981). The divide between rich and poor has kept getting wider, times are even tougher—especially for public servants—and people in general are a lot harder. So when Tallow and Rosato are called to a decrepit tenement on Pearl Street to respond to a naked guy with a shotgun and some serious anger-management issues, it's no surprise that the guy ends up dead. What is a surprise, though, is what Tallow finds afterward in one of the other apartments in the building, the one with the impassable security door and the tenant who's hardly ever there. Guns, though, are definitely involved. That's about all I want to say about this one—I really, really don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns that Ellis' plot takes from there. Oh, maybe I will drop one more hint—to my mind, anyway, the heart of the book, the chewy nugget at its absolute center, comes when Bat goes into the "Tao of cop shows" on p.243. If you've followed the trail Ellis has left, by then you'll know what the hell I'm talking about. It's that kind of book. Gun Machine is a brilliant and complicated mechanism, and—trust me on this—it all works beautifully in the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Solid crime/police thriller. Not my usual material, but I was all about expanding my reading horizons in 2013 (when I got this through a GR book perk!!) and it's sat on my shelf ever since. Literally, I've looked at this book almost every day for the last four-and-a-half years. The general plot structure didn't exactly break new ground here, but it had some interesting moments, clever use of New York City history, and an engaging set of characters I enjoyed spending some time with. Solid, not spe Solid crime/police thriller. Not my usual material, but I was all about expanding my reading horizons in 2013 (when I got this through a GR book perk!!) and it's sat on my shelf ever since. Literally, I've looked at this book almost every day for the last four-and-a-half years. The general plot structure didn't exactly break new ground here, but it had some interesting moments, clever use of New York City history, and an engaging set of characters I enjoyed spending some time with. Solid, not spectacular. Not sorry I waited four years to read it, either 😕

  27. 5 out of 5

    RG

    Solid police procedural with noir elements. Have always been a fan of Elllis' work. Wasnt the strongest of his writings. Solid police procedural with noir elements. Have always been a fan of Elllis' work. Wasnt the strongest of his writings.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    A naked old man holding a gun shoots and kills NYPD Detective John Tallow’s partner of five years, and that murder — aside from being devastating and emotionally traumatic for Tallow — leads to the discovery of an apartment full of nothing but guns. Two hundred plus guns, adorning the walls, the floors, all in some mysterious pattern, and each and every one is linked to an unsolved Manhattan murder within the last twenty years. John Tallow is stuck with this career ending case when he should be A naked old man holding a gun shoots and kills NYPD Detective John Tallow’s partner of five years, and that murder — aside from being devastating and emotionally traumatic for Tallow — leads to the discovery of an apartment full of nothing but guns. Two hundred plus guns, adorning the walls, the floors, all in some mysterious pattern, and each and every one is linked to an unsolved Manhattan murder within the last twenty years. John Tallow is stuck with this career ending case when he should be home grieving for his partner. I really, really liked this book, even though it was a little bit more violent and bleak than my usual tastes. Also, I say it was bleak, which is technically true, but Ellis is such a good writer it doesn’t even matter. Plus, it’s funny as hell. Tallow himself is a bit of a killjoy, but Ellis’s narration, and his creation of inspired CSU characters Bat and Scarly (who become Tallow’s de facto partners in solving the case), is just fun. He also does something right by letting us inside the mind of the killer, who we meet really early on. Very early on this transforms the central question of the narrative from Who killed all these people? to Who is this man and why does he do these things? Tallow figures it out as we do. The nice thing about Tallow is that the story frames this murder investigation as a wake-up call for Tallow’s psyche, which has been deep underwater for what seems like decades. As the case becomes more complicated, Tallow just gets smarter. This is almost the perfect crime thriller. It’s super smart. Ellis’s prose is witty and unique, with just the right amount of gore and cynicism, balanced nicely with pure action adrenaline, cool surprises, and humorous banter. He also has a nifty way with thematic undertones. You could read this book as a straight thriller, but he’s also got some stuff to say about memory, history, and violence. He’s also friggin’ obsessed with maps. All the characters you would expect to be here are here, but they’re also a little bit twisted, with just the right amount of character flavor. The result hits all the crime thriller pleasure spots, but also makes you think you’re reading something really unique and sort of revolutionary. I really had only two complaints about the book. First, Warren Ellis is British. He does a nice job with New York for the most part, but take that statement with a grain of salt. I’ve never been to New York and all I know about it I know from movies and television and super catchy hybrid soul/hip-hop songs. Where it really shows is in the dialogue. Mostly the dialogue was pretty normal, but every once in a while Britishisms would just slip in, particularly when he was writing for Bat and Scarly. My other complaint is that I felt the ending was a bit short-shrifted. It built and built and built with all this lovely tension, and then it just sort of . . . ended. I got the feeling there could be sequels from the way everything in the case was downplayed, like Tallow and Bat and Scarly haven’t seen the last of each other. If that’s the case, I certainly won’t complain. Also, Warren Ellis kind of scared me before I read this, but I’m going to check his other junk out now because I liked this so much. (I don’t think I’ll ever be reading Crooked Little Vein, though; that just sounds like too somethin’ somethin’ for me.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    I enjoyed the story, but found many of the leaps of logic far too coincidental for dramatic crime fiction. I liked the characters. Tallow, Bat and Scarly are an investigative team I'd enjoy visiting with again. I also liked the premise of the hunter and his gun machine of wampum magic. However, the elements that bring it all together felt forced and lacking. Ellis provides a core team of a detective and two CSIs, but there isn't a lot of detective work done, nor a lot of scientific investigation I enjoyed the story, but found many of the leaps of logic far too coincidental for dramatic crime fiction. I liked the characters. Tallow, Bat and Scarly are an investigative team I'd enjoy visiting with again. I also liked the premise of the hunter and his gun machine of wampum magic. However, the elements that bring it all together felt forced and lacking. Ellis provides a core team of a detective and two CSIs, but there isn't a lot of detective work done, nor a lot of scientific investigation that the reader gets to see. We know prints get run and previous cases are tied in through searching in computer databases...but it all feels a bit dry. And the big breaks are where the incredible happens...not because the team is good at what they do, but simply because they are lucky. It's difficult to care about the central conflict when the main characters are succeeding because they are in the right places at the right times. There is very little in this book that made me feel as if the good guys wouldn't win. There just wasn't enough difficulty thrown in front of Tallow. Everything breaks his way. That doesn't make for tense reading. I like Ellis and loved Crooked Little Vein. This felt like a watered down crime drama without direction or difficulty for the main character. It was entertaining, but not in a "I can't put this down" sort of way.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Pretty good book that actually could have used some more development, some further fleshing-out. It got to be just a little too fast-moving towards the end and I really would have liked to see the plot slow down just a bit. I enjoyed it and am glad I read it, but can't help feeling a bit cheated, which I know sounds a bit weird. Ellis is a writer with some amazingly great ideas and I just wish he had expanded on this one a bit more. Pretty good book that actually could have used some more development, some further fleshing-out. It got to be just a little too fast-moving towards the end and I really would have liked to see the plot slow down just a bit. I enjoyed it and am glad I read it, but can't help feeling a bit cheated, which I know sounds a bit weird. Ellis is a writer with some amazingly great ideas and I just wish he had expanded on this one a bit more.

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