Monday, February 16, 2009

"Gun Work" by David J. Schow

Barney is an ex-soldier that prides himself on “living off the grid.” He works at a gun range in L.A. and occasionally helps people with the kinds of problems that require discretion and skill with an iron. One night Barney gets a desperate call from an old war buddy, Carl Ledbetter. Carl hurriedly describes that he is in Mexico City, that his wife has been kidnaped, that a million dollar ransom is demanded and that, of course, he needs Barney’s help. Barney reluctantly agrees to ride the rescue. After all, Carl had saved his bacon in Iraq. Barney grabs one of his ready and waiting identity packages and heads for Mexico.

In Mexico a kidnaping happens every 6 hours on average and Mexico is second only to Colombia in the total annual number of kidnapings. In Mexico, these abductions are a business and they are treated as a business transaction. The authorities are not called and do not help. More often than not, the ransom is paid and the victim is returned. Of course this reality has spawned a billion-dollar industry for private security firms.

Schow uses the fascinating world of a Mexican kidnaping ring as a backdrop for a rousing tale of revenge. Gun Work reminds me of those classic westerns where a gunslinger left for dead by his enemies manages to slowly recover, teaches himself to shoot again and then slowly plots his revenge. If Gun Work became a film, the role of Barney would demand Eastwood, and at some point he would send a message to the bad guys: “Tell em I’m coming, and hell’s coming with me!”

Since Schow’s protagonist is a gunslinger, there is a great deal of detail built into the story about the tools of the trade. Any firearm fanboy will appreciate Schow’s proficiency with both hardware and tactics.

“Among his many friends are a special group found in the back of his workshop; his closest and most intimate friends, gathered there on the table. You probably already know their names, too: Remington, Ruger, Browning, Beretta, Kimber, Colt, Smith, Wesson, SIG.”


  1. Nice review. I've heard so much about HCC over the past few months. I'm going to check my library for this book.