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A gun for sale by Graham Greene

A gun for sale (original 1936; edition 1965)

by Graham Greene

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771911,991 (3.56)32
Title:A gun for sale
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:London Heinemann 1973 ix,228p 20cm
Collections:Your library

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A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene (1936)



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A psychological thriller about a hired killer. The plot twists and turns seemed almost too incredible at times but it was so well written that I swallowed all of them. There was also a surreal quality to a story written on the eve of World War Two with a political assasination possibly begining the war.
  amyem58 | Jul 11, 2014 |
Maybe even 5 stars after I have had a chance to mull it over a bit. I devoured this thriller in one gulp because I couldn't put it down. As in Brighton Rock, Greene has written a brilliant portrait of an anti-hero. Raven is (in my opinion) less of a psychopath and so I had more feeling of sympathy for him. I liked the way the story moved from Raven to Anne (the innocent girl caught up in the story) to Mather (the policeman hunting Raven and coincidentally engaged to Anne).

Greene's writing is wonderfully evocative and not a word is wasted or in excess. While I enjoyed his satires, his prose really shines in these thriller/crime novels. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Sep 2, 2013 |
I enjoyed this book by Graham Greene but it needs a rewrite. I found myself editing some badly constructed sentences, and the plot is ridiculous. Furthermore, events in this pre WW2 story are linked by coincidence after coincidence. The redeeming quality is the familiar narrative voice of Graham Greene, both comforting and compelling. I confess to an enthusiastic read, from first lines to a somewhat rambling conclusion, but I can give it only three stars. ( )
  Cathymacleod | Jan 20, 2013 |
I can't remember whether I've made any pronouncements on my favourite Graham Greene novel, but this one is probably going to fill that spot if nothing else has. It is the most entertaining of his "entertainments" I have read so far.

The story begins with a killer for hire by the name of Raven, who kills the Minister of War in an unnamed country. The murder is supposed to set various events in train that lead to another world war, but it's just a job to Raven until he discovers that he's been paid in stolen bank notes. How dare they! So Raven seeks to track down the people who double-crossed him even as he is being pursued by the police because he tried to use the stolen notes.

This is a very quick read but also a fascinating one, given that it was published in 1936 and it posits the rise of a second world war. The precipitating event was different in reality, but the scenario presented here is fairly plausible. We spend a great deal of time in Raven's head and come to appreciate his life circumstances, even as we shift to other characters' viewpoints and appreciate how they see the whole situation as well. (I'm being deliberately vague for fear of spoilers, and at any rate part of the fun of this book is watching it unfold -- one part actually made me almost gasp out loud on the bus, I was so surprised.)

If you like Brighton Rock, this is supposed to be its precursor and so would be interesting to look at as a point of comparison. I would also recommend this book to fans of Greene and those who like briskly moving plots coupled with substantial character study. ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | Apr 13, 2012 |
This Gun for Hire, written in 1936, is a cross between an Eric Ambler thriller and a noir novel, but Graham Greene’s story is more unpredictable than typical noir and more visceral than typical Ambler. It concerns Raven, a harelipped killer who discovers he has been double-crossed and sets out to take revenge on the man responsible, who has been his contact, and the ultimate boss, whom he doesn’t know. In the background is the threat of war, caused by the assassination Raven has just carried out on the European mainland before fleeing back to Britain for his payoff. Unfortunately, the payoff is in the form of marked, stolen money that the police are searching for.

There is a lot of good action here and Greene is a good stylist. The problem, however, as I read the book, was that the behavior of the characters seemed less and less human. Especially puzzling is the behavior of the second most important character in the story, Anne, who becomes tangled up in Raven’s plot. By one of those amazing coincidences endemic to this type of story, she is also the girlfriend of the Scotland Yard detective assigned to track down Raven for the theft. An actress, she seems to treat the whole thing as some sort of part, even though her life is clearly in danger. Most of her actions are pretty inexplicable. The bizarre plot twists involved with her predicament propel the story forward, but also lend it an air of unreality. Also more than a bit unreal is the detective’s suspicion that Anne may actually be Raven’s confederate and his attitude to her as a result—despite the fact that he was planning to marry her. Then there is the dying millionaire war profiteer, a larcenous landlady, the vice mayor’s wife and her dog, a despicable medical student…. You get the idea.

The book is full of set pieces—extended, barely related incidents involving minor characters—that seem to exist for no other reason than that Greene had a few things he felt like writing about. My real criticism, however, is that Greene doesn’t really seem to care about any of his characters all that much, and as a result, reading This Gun for Hire, despite its slick surface, didn’t strike me as the classic I had been led to believe it was. Raven is, in fact, the most sympathetic character, despite being a cold blooded killer. Even here, though, Greene can’t let well enough alone. Raven is a killer, you see, because his family was too poor to pay for surgery to have his lip fixed, which meant he was persecuted all his life, and after his father, a criminal, was hanged, and his mother committed suicide, he was raised in a cruel school where he was mistreated every day! It’s all too much. Were Greene a real noir writer, he would know that in noir, less equals more. ( )
2 vote datrappert | Dec 30, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kranz, H. B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap, H.W.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Murder didn't mean much to Raven.
Acky was writing a long letter on the kitchen table. He had pushed his wife's mauve ink to one side and was using the best blue-black and a fountain pen which had long ceased to hold ink.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014303930X, Paperback)

Raven is an ugly man dedicated to ugly deeds. His cold-blooded killing of a European Minister of War is an act of violence with chilling repercussions, not just for Raven himself but for the nation as a whole. The money he receives in payment for the murder is made up of stolen notes. When the first of these is traced, Raven is a man on the run. As he tracks down the agent who has been double-crossing him and attempts to elude the police, he becomes both hunter and hunted: an unwitting weapon of a strange kind of social justice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Raven is an assassin, a hired killer, and his brutal murder of the minister of war is an act of violence with chilling repercussions, not just for Raven himself but for the nation as a whole.

(summary from another edition)

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