– a crime thriller cum mystery by action-comic writer Warren Ellis
The best part of Ellis’s work here is the way the changing points of view, from the protagonist’s (1st Precinct detective John Tallow) to the antagonist’s (“the hunter”) – it brings closer the ability to see the hunter’s desparation in his crazed world.
And it took an accidental discovery for the hunter to enter the story.
When called to a disturbance in an apartment building, in which Tallow’s partner is killed by a naked tenant gone mad on learning his home is to be sold out from under him, Tallow has to kill the angry tenant. Who’s shot and killed his partner. During the aftermath with medics, police and CSU people swarming, Tallow examines a hole in another apartment’s wall, blasted earlier by the tenant. Inside the room he discovers a puzzle.
No, an enigma, a mystery, a symbolic almost mystical gun display of as yet unrecognised significance.
Ballistic tests on a few of the guns link them to unsolved killings from years ago, and Tallow has “reopened several hundred homicides” – considered cold cases with any evidence long locked away in the vaults of the sub-basement of the Propery Office. The sheer numbers of cases to be reopened are overwhelming, and all are dumped on Tallow to work, with a team of two young CSU staff.
From the hunter’s point of view, the disturbance at the apartment block is unsettling – he watches his collection being brought out from the building in crates and boxes, loaded into a police truck and disappearing. Right from the moment we meet the hunter, we see his double life – unhinged and switching from a cold modern reality to a self-created mystical identification with the native americans who’d inhabited the sites of New York during pre-European settlement.
Tallow, under increasing pressure from superiors and fellow detectives, is expected to work alone as he uncovers corruption among colleagues and top citizens and bigwigs in both the commercial and the criminal worlds, as the hunter becomes more and more unable to control his delusions. Becoming increasingly dangerous: blackmail, manipulation, payoffs – all when revealed contribute to the resolution of the network of lies, murder and threats.
Ellis has written a gripper of a thriller, and I expect to become just as rapt in his other novels, starting back with his first – Crooked Little Vein.
Ellis, W., 2013. Gun Machine. London: Mulholland Books, Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN (paperback) 978-1-444-73064-7
ISBN (ebook) 978-1-444-73065-4
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