A Gun for Sale

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A Gun for Sale
First edition
Author Graham Greene
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher William Heinemann
Publication date
Media type Hardcover (first edition)
OCLC 59545065

A Gun for Sale is a 1936 novel by Graham Greene. The novel was first published by Doubleday Doran in the U.S. in June 1936 as This Gun For Hire; it was published by William Heinemann in the U.K. in July 1936 as A Gun For Sale.

Raven is a man dedicated to ugly deeds. When Raven is paid for killing the Minister of War with stolen notes, he becomes a man on the run. Tracking down the agent who double-crossed him, and eluding the police simultaneously, he becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

The novel ties into Greene's later, more famous work, Brighton Rock. Pinkie Brown's assassination of Kite, the Colleoni's rival mob boss, sets the events of Brighton Rock in motion in much the same way that Raven's assassination of the Minister of War sows the seeds for global conflict in A Gun For Sale.

Several film and television adaptations have been made: a 1941 film version starred Alan Ladd under the title This Gun for Hire (the title of the book's U.S. edition), a Turkish adaptation (Günes Dogmasin) was made in 1961, and an Italian television mini-series, Una pistola in vendita, followed in 1970. The 1941 film was remade in 1957 under the title Short Cut to Hell and as a TV movie in 1991 starring Robert Wagner.


  • Raven—a cold-hearted assassin for hire with an unseen decency and a personal sense of justice. He is extremely sensitive about his harelip.
  • Mather—stalwart police detective trailing Raven, with many of the same characteristics. He joined the police for a stability in routine.
  • Anne—a chorus girl engaged to Mather who is used by Raven as a shield. The two develop a fragile friendship that may or may not be real.
  • Cholmondeley a.k.a. Davis—a grossly sensual man who acts as agent for a corrupt steel tycoon, Sir Marcus, and later betrays Raven. Anne tries to help Raven get revenge upon him.
  • Saunders—a decent police detective with a heavy stammer. He is Mather's loyal protégé who plays a vital role in the novel's climax.


  • An unnamed Central European capital, probably Prague or Vienna,[1] where the old politician and his secretary are murdered by Raven.
  • London, where Raven is paid off by Cholmondeley,[2] where Anne has lodgings but cannot find work, and where Mather is based at Scotland Yard.
  • Nottwich, a fictional version of Nottingham,[3] site of the steel works where Sir Marcus lives in a penthouse, where Anne gets a job in the pantomime, and where Raven goes to find and kill Cholmondeley.


  1. ^ Greene, Graham. A Gun For Sale. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1963. p5
  2. ^ Greene, Graham. A Gun For Sale. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1963. p12
  3. ^ Greene, Graham. A Gun For Sale. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1963. p40