Hired hand

7 05 2016

A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene



Raven is an assassin, a hired killer, and his brutal murder of the Minister raises the spectre of war across Europe. As the nation prepares for battle, Raven goes on the run, hunted by the police and hunting the man who paid him in stolen banknotes, eventually unearthing the terrible truth behind the killing.

A Gun for Sale was published two years before Brighton Rock, and its themes and characters provide a striking echo to that more famous novel, providing a fascinating glimpse into the working mind of a master novelist.

It’s an enjoyable entertainment which does definitely prefigure Brighton Rock. It has a strongly cinematic noir feel and really rattles along. I particularly liked this passage which refers to the University of Nottwich:
The coroner had been a student himself once and remembered with pleasure the day when they had pelted the Vice-Chancellor of the University with soot. The senior surgeon had been present that day too. Once safely inside the glass corridor he could smile at the memory. The Vice-Chancellor had been unpopular; he had been a classic which wasn’t very suitable for a provincial university. He had translated Lucan’s Pharsalia into some complicated metre of his own invention. The senior surgeon remembered something vaguely about stresses. He could still see the little wizened frightened Liberal face trying to smile when his pince-nez broke, trying to be a good sportsman. But anyone could tell that he wasn’t really a good sportsman. That was why they pelted him so hard.
 All good fun.



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