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Home » Books & writing

First Impressions: Flashback Edition

Submitted by on July 5, 2012 – 10:21 pm 20 Comments

Couldn’t find three hard-hitting openers among the ARCs I received this week, so I thought I’d take a look back at some older favorites. I wanted to feature authors whose work you may not have read but might consider doing so after seeing these.

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (yes, that Hugh Laurie)

Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm.

Right or left, doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to break it, because if you don’t…well, that doesn’t matter either. Let’s just say bad things will happen if you don’t.

Now, my question goes like this: do you break the arm quickly—snap, whoops, sorry, here let me help you with that improvised splint—or do you drag the whole business out for a good eight minutes, every now and then increasing the pressure in the tiniest of increments, until the pain becomes pink and green and hot and cold and altogether howlingly unbearable?

Well exactly. Of course. The right thing to do, the only thing to do, is to get it over with as quickly as possible. Break the arm, ply the brandy, be a good citizen. There can be no other answer.


He got you, didn’t he? “Unless” what?? This book is hilarious, and I’ve been waiting for a looooong time for his second novel. The Paper Soldier was supposed to be released years ago, but was indefinitely delayed due to Laurie’s busy schedule. Now that House, M.D. is over, maybe he’ll have more time for writing.


Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes (yes, the Piña Colada man)

In the seventies, I had three unrelated lunches with three different men, each of whom might have done A Terrible Thing. The nature of their varying “things” ranged from obscene to unspeakable to unutterable, and you will surely understand if, as a writer, I was rather hoping that each had. (Done their particular Terrible Thing.)

In the case of my lunch with the first man, I knew by the time he rested his gold Carte Blance card upon the meal’s sizable check that my hopes were abundantly justified.

Ignore the fact this book was made into a movie that’s not very good (despite Colin Firth’s presence). It’s a sexy, twisty mystery that made me snap up Holmes’s second mystery novel, Swing, which was even better.


Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston

My feet hurt. The nightmare still in my head, I walk across the cold wood floor, shuffling my feet in the light grit. I’m half-drunk and I have to pee. I’m not sure which woke me, the piss or the nightmare.

My john is just a bit smaller than the average port-o-potty. I sit on the pot and rest my forehead against the opposite wall. I have a pee hard-on and if I try to take a leak standing up, I’ll end up hosing the whole can. I know this from experience. Plus my feet still hurt.

This opening started my love affair with Huston’s work eight years ago. I wanted to know why this guy’s feet hurt. Well, his day is about to get much worse, and by the end of this book, his feet aren’t the only things that hurt.

What do you think? Interested in any of these? What are you reading? Happy second Friday this week!

[Note about the covers: These are from the first editions I read. The current editions all have different covers but I prefer these.]



  • These all sound good to me. The Charlie Huston has been in my TBR forever so I probably should start there.

  • Lauren says:

    Never thought Hugh Laurie would be in my TBR, but there he is!

    And I know, I know, you urged me to read Swing ages ago and it’s been languishing on the list as well. Maybe next reading round…

    Thanks for these, E, all great options!

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Laurie is AWESOME. I was telling Sarah RH (commenter below) on Twitter that he’s a prime candidate for people I need to shove down the stairs. So much talent in one man.

  • I’ve wanted to read that Hugh Laurie book for ages but haven’t gotten around to getting it. Wow, that opening made me see stars a bit and reminded me of Beat the Reaper. I definitely need to read it.

    The second sounds great as well. Love these!

    The Huston…well, let’s just say I’m not a fan. I picked up one book of his, and it’s one of the few DNFs of my entire reading career.

    • Lauren says:

      Charlie Huston is also an issue with me. I read Caught Stealing (in 2005, so obviously I don’t remember specifics) and was non-plussed. But his work has been the subject of raves by so many readers I trust that I really WANTED to like his stuff. When “Mystic Arts…” came out and was so highly touted, I picked it up. I did like it, but still not to the level of so many others. I tried one more (one of the Joe Pitt series) and I think that’s going to be it.

      On the one hand, this is no matter, because I love that we all love and admire different things. On the other hand, this is one of those that bugs me. I WANT to get it, I WANT to be as agog as others. I just can’t muster it.

      Only a few DNFs? That’s impressive. I used to force myself to read to the end of everything, even if it meant speed-reading to the end. I’m getting better at allowing myself to put something down if it’s not floating my boat. Still hard, but hey, I’m not getting any younger. Do you have few DNFs because you won’t allow yourself not to finish or because you rarely come across something that gives you pause enough to set down?

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’d say GUN SELLER is in the REAPER vein. It’s not as profane or violent, but it’s fast-paced, witty, and I love the narrator’s voice.

      I remember your not being a fan of Huston’s work. I’ll just say I think this one is better than the one you read.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    The Gun Seller was fun! I laughed a lot…definitely British humor. 🙂

  • Eric Beetner says:

    So glad to hear The Gun Seller is good. Will have to check that one out.
    Did anyone ever see Rupwrt Holmes series on the old AMC, Rmember WENN? About an old time radio show? I loved that. Can’t find it anywhere.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      GUN SELLER is a really fast read so it won’t take up too much of your time. I never watched REMEMBER WENN but remember it got good reviews. That is really weird it hasn’t been released on DVD.

  • Sarah RH says:

    I’d definitely read The Gun Seller. I hadn’t realized Hugh Laurie wrote. It is now in my TBR. Along with Caught Stealing. I have not read any of Charlie Huston’s books. I’m going to have to stop reading your First Impressions because I just can’t keep up! But thank you. I’ve found some new good reads! 🙂

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I’m glad you find this, uh, helpful? CAUGHT STEALING is the first in the Hank Thompson trilogy so if you read it, you might have to sign on for SIX BAD THINGS and A DANGEROUS MAN, too!

      If you’re already a Laurie fan, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed by GUN SELLER. Happy reading!

  • stacybuckeye says:

    I see that you’d know at least one answer to my quizthis week 🙂 Stop by to have some fun. I do want to read Gun Seller because I do love me some Hugh!

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