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1. Keller in Dallas
2. Hit Man (John Keller Mysteries)
3. The Specialists
4. Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew
5. Hit and Run
6. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza
7. Hit Parade
8. Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling,
9. The Burglar on the Prowl
10. Time to Murder and Create (Matthew
11. In the Midst of Death (Matthew
12. Enough Rope
13. Lucky at Cards (Hard Case Crime)
14. The Burglar Who Thought He Was
15. Burglars Can't Be Choosers
16. Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence)
17. A Drop of the Hard Stuff
18. Tanner's Tiger (Evan Tanner Suspense
19. When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
20. The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew

1. Keller in Dallas
by Lawrence Block
 Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-08-26)
list price: US$1.98
Asin: B002QGUCXQ
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A novella otherwise unpublished except in a philatelic magazine, and continuing Keller's story after HIT & RUN ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's great to have you guys back
Keller and Dot - the philosophical killer duo - are back in a great short story. Great value for the money albeit the kindle edition lacks polishing.

5-0 out of 5 stars A short "Hit Man" novella for your Kindle....excellent work by Block
Can Keller really stayed retired living the good life as a father and real estate guy in New Orleans? The real estate market crashes so what's Keller doing for money? Well, in this novella the "Dot and Keller" connection returns as she's back in business and Keller needs the income to support his family.

Keller comes to Dallas for the hit and, in typical Lawrence Block style, is funny, serious and philosophical in the ways of life. Keller has an motive of hunting for an elusive stamp (Keller is a HUGE stamp collector) so a big auction in Dallas is his "excuse" for the visit to Big D all the while planning his trip to once again be a hired assassin for money.

The plot has a great twist at the end and I enjoyed the entire novella from beginning to end. It's cheap on KINDLE and worth the time to read. Hopefully, Lawrence Block has more plans in the future for Mr. Keller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hitherto unpublished Keller novella
I was thrilled to find this novella, which is not available in printed form, at all, on the Kindle.

the Kindle formatting needs a careful proofing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Our Favorite Hit Man is Back
Could Keller stay retired? You'll find out in this short story length tale that has the usual dark humor and irony of Block's previous books about our favorite hit man. It's a fun read and well worth the $1.98. Four stars instead of five because the formatting is funky with weird ascii characters for quotation marks and single quotes as well as word substitutions that slipped past the spell checker like "pug" for "plug" and "the" for "he". ... Read more

2. Hit Man (John Keller Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (1999-02-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 038072541X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Keller is your basic urban Lonely Guy.He makes a decent wage, lives in a nice apartment.Works the crossword puzzle.Watches a little TV.Until the phone rings and he packs a suitcase, gets on a plane, flies halfway across the country...and kills somebody.It's a living.But is it a life?Keller's not sure.He goes to a shrink, but it doesn't work out the way he planned.He gets a dog, he gets a girlfriend.He gets along.Amazon.com Review
A man known only as Keller is thinking about Samuel Johnson's famousquote that "'patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel'... If you lookedat it objectively, he had to admit, then he was probably a scoundrelhimself. He didn't feel much like a scoundrel. He felt like your basic NewYork single guy, living alone, eating out or bringing home takeout,schlepping his wash to the Laundromat, doing the Times crossword with hismorning coffee... There were eight million stories in the naked city, mostof them not very interesting, and his was one of them. Except that everyonce in a while he got a phone call from a man in White Plains. And packeda bag and caught a plane and killed somebody. Hard to argue the point. Manbehaves like that, he's a scoundrel. Case closed." But Lawrence Block issuch a delightfully subtle writer, one of the true masters of the mysterygenre, that the case is far from closed. In this beautifully linkedcollection of short stories, we gradually put together such a completepicture of Keller that we don't so much forgive him his occupation as consider it just one more part of his humanity. After watching Keller take on casesthat baffle and anger him into actions that fellow members of his hit-manunion might well call unprofessional, we're eager to join him as he goes through a spectacularly unsuccessfulanalysis and gets fooled by a devious intelligence agent. We miss the doghe acquires and loses, along with its attractive walker. Like Richard Stark's Parker, Keller makes us think the unthinkable about criminals: thatthey might be the guys next door--or even us, under different pressures.For a small selection of the many Blocks in paperback, tryCoward's Kiss, A Long Line of Dead Men, The Sins of the Fathers,Such Men Are Dangerous,and especiallyWhen the Sacred Ginmill Closes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (94)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amusing stories from a killer's life
Block started writing about Keller in short stories that mostly appeared in Playboy.This novel collects some of those stories and adds more material, but the novel still reads like a series of related stories.There is no central plot.Keller gets a call from Dot in White Plains, who works for the old man; Dot relays an assignment to Keller, or Keller gets it directly from the old man; and Keller travels to wherever and makes the hit.Along the way Keller philosophizes and muses about his life and the lives of others, whether clients, victims, or total strangers.Toward the end the old man becomes a bit dotty.The interplay between Dot and Keller is often hilarious.Keller is an affable killer; the stories are surprisingly lighthearted and amusing, given the subject matter.For those who (in other reviews) have asked "where's the mystery?," there isn't one.This isn't a mystery; it's a series of scenes from a hit man's life.On that basis, the book works.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love Keller!
I am a voracious reader of many genres and I just loved this character.I understand that many have a problem with the nature of his profession, but I found the insight into Keller's inner world fascinating.The stories kept me turning the pages and I look forward to reading the series.I have found a new author to devour.I am compiling my list of Lawrence Block books for purchase right now.

5-0 out of 5 stars Audio version
I agree with another review...the audio version read by Forster is far superior than the ones read by Block himself.
It's a shame that Forster wasn't used for all the hit man series, for whatever reason...?
He is one of the best I have ever heard, especially in the crime genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Review of the Keller Series (Without Spoilers!)
This was my first experience with Lawrence Block's writing. I waited until I read the whole series to write my review. This series could be my favorite series EVER. There is something so oddly lovable about John Keller. He's like a normal guy that just happens to kill people for a living. You really get involved with his every day life, and yet, you never get bored with it. If you enjoy any form of crime fiction, you owe it to yourself to at least give the first book in the series (HIT MAN) a try.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Hit Man with a Penchant for Self-reflection
This is a very entertaining book.

Keller is a hit man with a penchant for self-reflection.He goes to a therapist, enjoys his dog, and collects stamps.He has a mid-life crisis, imagining resettling into most of the cities where he travels to do a hit.He's indeed a sociopath, but one who the reader can feel some empathy for, somewhat like Tony Soprano.

I also enjoy Block's Matt Scudder series, especially the following: Out on the Cutting Edge and Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder Mysteries) ... Read more

3. The Specialists
by Lawrence Block
Hardcover: 160 Pages (1996-12-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$27.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0964045435
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m most often identified as the creator of series characters. My two active series, concerning a bookselling burglar named Rhodenbarr and a sober drunk named Scudder, are the ones people are most likely to know about. Readers with a wider range may be familiar as well with a series of seven novels about an insomniac named Tanner.And there have been four novels eachabout a horny kid named Harrison and an introspective killer named Keller.
Hardly anybody, asked to name all of my series, would come up with The Specialists.
A fat lot they know. As far as I’m concerned, The Specialists is unequivocally a series novel. As it happens, the series is only one book long. But I figure it’s a series just the same.
In the spring of 1966 I moved into a big old house on a small old lot smack in the middle of New Brunswick, New Jersey. I set up an office for myself on the third floor. I had a massive old desk, and the movers couldn’t get the thing up the last flight of stairs. It wouldn’t fit. Most desks of that vintage disassemble, but not this sucker. They had to cut the hind legs off it. I propped up the back of the desk with two short stacks of paperback novels, plopped a typewriter on the top of it, and went to work.
Three and a half years later, when we moved to a place in the country, I left the desk right there, and I left the books to keep it from tilting. By that time the desk didn’t owe me a dime, because I’d sat at it and written a whole slew of books. I’d already written the first Tanner book in Racine, Wisconsin, but I wrote the other six in New Brunswick, along with After the First Death and Such Men Are Dangerous and more pseudonymous work than I’ll admit to at the moment.
I also wrote The Specialists at that desk. My then agent (and still friend) Henry Morrison suggested I might try to come up with a series, and he liked the idea of a troupe of guys working together, in the tried-and-true manner of A League of Gentlemen. I hadn’t read the book in question, but I got the idea. And I wrote a couple of chapters and an outline and pitched the idea as a series to an editor at (I think) Dell. Whoever she was, and wherever she was, she thought it sounded good, and I went home to my desk to finish the first book.
I finished the book without a problem, and Henry liked it, and he sent it over to Dell.While I’d been breezing along on the book, the editor who’d liked the idea had gone somewhere else, and her replacement didn’t like the idea, or the book, either. Henry took it back and sent it to Knox Burger at Gold Medal, who liked it just fine. I signed a contract, and then I got a call from Henry.
“Knox was wondering,” he said, “if The Specialists is the first volume of a series. Shall I tell him yes, and that you’re already hard at work on the next installment?”
“God, no,” I said.
“Tell him it’s complete in and of itself,” I said.
“But I thought—”
“So did I,” I said, “and it turns out we were both wrong. Because I like the book, and I sort of enjoyed writing it, but when I finished it I realized something. I don’t want to write about those guys again, ever. I liked them as characters, and it’s the kind of book I like to read, but it turns out it’s not the kind of book I like to write.”
There was a pause. Then Henry said, “That’s really strange.”
“I know it is.”
“I was sure it was going to turn out to be a series.”
“So was I, and we were right. It’s a series. But it’s a very short series.”
“Just one book long.”
“Just one book long,” I agreed. “But a series nonetheless.”
And that’s what it is. I hope you enjoy it.And who knows? Maybe someday I will want to write about these guys again. . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

1-0 out of 5 stars Absolute Crap
I can not believe Block wrote this.

it is the worst writing I have ever seen outside of an 8th grade English class. Block claims he wrote it in one sitting and I believe that. A Very Short sitting.

Block states he didn't like writing about the characters, so he never did another book on them, and thank God for small favors for that.

This book is written by someone that has ZERO knowledge of Vietnam, Special Forces, the US Army, war or combat.


If a child wrote it, and I won't argue that possibly one did, one would read it and smile and say, well, good job, when you grow up you will learn what research is as applied to writing, or simply stick to a subject you have knowledge of.

I have read a stinker from Block now and then but why in sweet heaven would anyone willingly dredge this pile of crap back up from the past and label it a work of Block?

Whomever suggested Block release this again, deeply hates the man. It is Absolute Crap.

If you can read beyond where the Special Forces soldier now turned assassin routinely tapes a skeleton knife to his arm and leg to hide it !!! you are braver than I....ever try to quickly get a taped knife off of your arm of leg in a combat situation? not only does he do it again and again but it sounds like a good idea to his team mates too....He jumps fences, scales walls, goes hand to hand and the kife stays right there because of all the tape, probably duct tape, sure, why not?
then when he needs it...RRRRIIIIIPPPPPP, it is ready, then it simply gets stuck back in place when he is done slicing and dicing...he also hides under the victims car, ever try to leap out from under a car?

ever try to leap out from under a car to attack an armed body guard and a valet while ripping a duct taped knife off your leg? or forearm?

holy crappin crap this is childish stuff and I can't read more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Lawrence Block title
Ah, what might have been. This novel reads like it's part of a series, but, alas, Lawrence Block only wrote about these guys in one book. Too bad because this is LB at his best. The characters are strong, the plot is fun, and it's dark, dark, dark. It won't take you long to read it, so go ahead and find this one. One of my favorites.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Specialists
Great read!!! If you like Lawrence Block, then don't miss out on thiselusive title. ... Read more

4. Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-01-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061457965
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Nobody knows better than Matthew Scudder how far down a person can sink in the city of New York. Except a young prostitute named Kim—and she wanted out. Maybe Kim didn't deserve the life fate had dealt her. She surely didn't deserve her death.

The alcoholic ex-cop turned P.I. was supposed to protect her, but someone slashed her to ribbons in a seedy hotel room. Now, finding Kim's killer will be Scudder's penance. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the slain hooker's past that are far dirtier than her trade. And there are many ways of dying in this cruel and dangerous town—some quick and brutal . . . and some agonizingly slow.

With this book, which won the Shamus Award and was short-listed for the Edgar, Lawrence Block elevated the Matthew Scudder series to the top tier of American detective fiction. This special hardcover edition features an afterword by the author. Read Eight Million Ways to Die, the novel that proves Block to be one of the best mystery writers working today.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time great detective books
The mystery is pretty good in itself, but what sets this book and all of Block's books apart is the vivid world in which it takes place.Block has John D. MacDonald's gift for dialogue matched with Charles Dickens' ability to develop characters, wrapped in a noir sensibility that creates an unforgettable reading experience.Block's portrayal of the standard hard-drinking detective as he struggles with the decision to become sober is particularly poignant.I have given away several copies of this book, and so far every person I gave it to has read most or all of the Matt Scudder series.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Private Eye, A Great Mystery, and Alcoholism
I loved this mystery. It is a literary page-turner about the search for a prostitute's murderer.

Detective Matt Scudder's on-going battle with alcohlism is as vivid and intricately described as anything I've ever read.I am a clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist and I often give copies of this book to my clients who have alcohol issues or addictions.Anyone who hasa problem with alcohol oraddictions or has a loved one with addiction problems should read this book.

Anyone who loves a good mystery with great characters will love this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good book.. weak ending...
Superb character development.. may have dragged a bit at times...but entertaining and better written than most crime novels I have read... but the ending...hmm... how can a book that had been that good up until the final chapters end so.. well.. disappointingly...

5-0 out of 5 stars great mystery with well-defined, interesting characters
Read a lot of L Block books.Going to go back and read some earlier titles that I missed.Terrific story teller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Reviews from the Weekend Reader, Elizabeth Jean Allen
Matthew Scudder is not a licensed private investigator.To claim he was one would not be ethical.Besides, private investigators have to keep up with records and billable hours...No, you can't hire him, but you can ask him to do a favor.In return for said favor, you can buy him a drink and give him a little cash.

At one point in his life Matt was a detective for the NYPD, but when a stray bullet from his gun struck and killed an innocent child during a shootout, Matt resigned.He buried his grief in a bottle and started doing favors for friends.

In Eight Million Ways to Die, Matt has reached a crossroads.After experiencing blackout that lasted several days that ended with Matt in the hospital, he knew he had to come to terms with his drinking.He agreed to go to AA, but he was not ready to label himself an alcoholic.

In need of money, Matt agreed to act as an intermediary for a hooker.She wanted out of the business but was afraid to tell her pimp.It was a simple job and the situation was settled without bloodshed or tears.Chance, the pimp, felt Kim wasted her money.She didn't need to hire Matt.All she had to do was tell him she wanted out.When Kim was found dead a few days later, the police and Matt assumed Chance was the guilty party.

The police would never be able to prove that Chance was guilty.Chance knew that, but the fact that the police assumed he did it and were not looking elsewhere irritated him.Kim was a hooker, but she was one of his girls.The cloud of suspicion was hurting his business.As Matt already had a vested interest in the case, Chance hires him.Matt would ferret out the truth.

It has been 25 years since Laurence Block's Eight Million Ways to Die was first released.New York City has changed since then, but it was easy to visualize the rabble and the rubble of the New York City of old through the eyes of Matthew Scudder.It was descriptive without the lengthy prose to go with it.

It is a classic hardboiled detective story.The clues are doled out at regular intervals.An astute mystery reader may be able to identify the killer before Matt puts the pieces together.I had my suspicions but there was enough doubt to keep me guessing right up until the end.

Eight Million Ways to Die is dark, cynical, violent and incredibly lonely--all that a great PI mystery should be.For the mystery fans out there, I highly recommend it.

... Read more

5. Hit and Run
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 280 Pages (2009-07-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060840919
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

For years now Keller's had places to go and people to kill.

But enough is enough. Just one more job—paid in advance—and he's going to retire. Waiting in Des Moines for the client's go-ahead, Keller's picking out stamps for his collection at a shop in Urbandale when somebody guns down the charismatic governor of Ohio. Back at his motel, Keller sees the killer's face broadcast on TV. A face he's seen quite often. Every morning. In the mirror.

Keller calls his associate Dot in White Plains, but there's no answer. He's stranded halfway across the country, and every cop in America has just seen his picture. His ID and credit cards are no longer good, and he just spent almost all of his cash on the stamps.

Now what?

... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Probably ends the hit man novels for Block, but an excellent differnt read on the hit man scene.

3-0 out of 5 stars Glad I read it.
I found it an interesing read. Not great, but enjoyable. My only complaint is why Keller made no attempt to change his appearance. Seemed sort of dumb not too.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time. Read something else.
I thought I'd give this book a try (first by this author) when I saw it at a library book sale. For $1 I suppose the time I spent reading it (1 week) was worthwhile, but the content was poor. I didn't care about the characters. The writing tried to be humorous at times, and it just so forced. The story itself took forever to evolve and the entire part where Keller was wandering around the U.S. could have been wrapped up in 1 paragraph. It didn't even explain why the assassination was ordered in the first place.I wouldn't even call it a thriller, actually. There was nothing suspenseful about it. Boring and not worth the time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not Interesting
My mother said if you can not say anything nice about something it is best to say nothing, so I will end my review now.The book was boring and predictable.

2-0 out of 5 stars the 4th in the series and the only one to skip!
I am a long fan of the Keller series, Hit Man, Hit List, Hit Parade and was thrilled to see Hit and Run come out, you can't get enough Keller, or so I thought.

Keller stories can have slow spots, mainly Block's terrible tendency to treat each book as a stand alone, assuming the reader has no idea the other books exist he often recounts in one book what you read in the earlier book, this is annoying beyond belief and causes you to skim pages waiting for the flashback that you were there for the first time, to end.

the problem multiplies in Hit and Run, entire chapters of flashback,to the point when Keller and Dot finally are back in the here and now it's almost hard to get back involved in the current story.

Combine that with a Keller we've never seen before, mushy, whinny, very feminine, and a Dot that is not a witty soundingboard or straight man to Keller, but rather a psychopath with super human skills and it makes the 4th book of the Keller series a real train wreck for true Keller fans.

If you read this book book first you'd never pick up the other three in the series, and if you loved the first three and hoped we'd get a fourth, it will make you go back and re-read the others and throw this one away, maybe write a nasty letter to Block and flame it on a review.

The Keller of Hit and Run is not our Keller. And I have no idea when Lawrence Block died and they got a new Ghost Writer to do this book but it's obvious that Mr. Block and Just Plain Keller have left the building.

It truly reads as if Block died and a fan of Keller tried to pick up the story line, it is kinda, almost the quality writing and the Keller we know but it misses the mark wide enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The storyline starts out ok, then turns to crap, then becomes 100% unbelievable...if you are a Keller Fan, would you believe Dot killing Jehovah's Witnesses and carrying the man's body into her car to be disposed of, then switching false teeth with the woman? Come on! that's so far fetched kids wouldn't believe it!What happened to the really well thought out Keller kills and subterfuge?
This heavy handed crap in Hit and Run destroys the book, it's almost as if Block's replacement lines up problems that he can't solve so smashes them with a hammer...I can't believe Lawrence Block wrote this, if he did he must be in early stages of mental failure.

It has good merits, some of the plot line has a glimmer of a good idea, then it goes to crap again and fast.

A bitter dissapointment to those of us who have the Keller books on our Kindle and re-read them over and over. Swing and a Miss, Mr. Block. Tiem for Dot to put a pillow over your face, its over. ... Read more

6. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2006-08-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060872764
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Bookselling burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr doesn't generally get philosophical about his criminal career. He's good at it, it's addictively exciting—and it pays a whole lot better than pushing old tomes. He steals therefore he is, period.

He might well ponder, however, the deeper meaning of events at the luxurious Chelsea brownstone of Herb and Wanda Colcannon, which is apparently burgled three times on the night Bernie breaks in: once before his visit and once after. Fortunately he still manages to lift some fair jewelry and an extremely valuable coin. Unfortunately burglar or burglars number three leave Herb unconscious and Wanda dead . . . and the cops think Rhodenbarr dunnit.

There's no time to get all existential about it—especially after the coin vanishes and the fence fencing it meets with a most severe end. But Bernie is going to have to do some deep thinking to find a way out of this homicidal conundrum.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Burglar Who Stuided Spinoza
The main character Bernie and his friend Carolyn decide they will break into the Colcannon's house because they are very wealthy.The job was too easy, the dog, the alarm system, wasn't there.They took their dog to get him breed.Bernie and Carolyn decided it would be a perfect time to break in.But when they got there they realized that someone had beat them to it and they took almost everything, but they went in to look around anyway.Once looking around they found Mr. Colcannon's coin collection and so they take a coin, chest, and earings.They then go over to their friend Abel's house and ask him what he thinks.He looks at the first two items and is about to pay them about $2,000.00 but they then show him the coin.It turns out that the coin is the very rare and valuable 1913-V nickle.He tells them it's worth about a half a million dollars and that he would buy it from them.They decided that they would give it to him but he needed to pay them at different times because he didnt have all that money.The next day the Colcannon's came home early and found an unwanted visitor.Abel and Mrs. Colcannon were killed.The police then pin everything on Bernie since it would be so easy.So Bernie goes on his own investigation to clear his name and find out where the coin is and who murdered the two.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bernie Finds Himself Between Burglaries
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing valuables. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice!

So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza is the fourth book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet and The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Although, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian comes next in the series.

Bernie's friend, Carolyn Kaiser, the dog groomer at the Poodle Factory has a hot tip for him. Wealthy dog-owners, Herbert and Wanda Colcannon will be out of town breeding Astrid, their Bouvier des Flandres guard dog, who normally keeps burglars away from their possessions, which includes Herbert's famous coin collection . . . and which Bernie is already impressed by. Carolyn discovered a taste for breaking and entering while "borrowing" a Polaroid camera in The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, and now she's a full-fledged partner who insists on joining Bernie in the burglary.

Quickly inside the Colcannon's West 18th Street brownstone, they find the place a mess. "Burglars," Bernie announces. But the first burglars mainly made a mess . . . and couldn't open the safe. But Bernie does and finds some jewelry, a Piaget watch, and a nickel. The main coin collection must be safe in a bank vault elsewhere. Carolyn's more pleased with the Chagall lithograph that she takes for her apartment. So far, so good.

They retire to visit Bernie's charming fence, Abel Crowe, who had survived being an inmate at Dachau. Bernie knows that Abel is more likely to be generous if he's in a good mood, so Bernie brings Abel a little gift, a 1707 English edition of Spinoza's Ethics, bound in blue calf. Everything goes smoothly until Abel examines the nickel. "Gross Gott!" he exclaims. Bernie has brought him one of five known specimens of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel that the mint denies ever having made. It's worth a fortune. Abel offers a small sum in cash now . . . or to split the proceeds from a more leisurely sale. Bernie and Carolyn agree to wait on their money, and leave happily.

By the next morning, everything has gone bad. Unless Bernie finds out what really happened, he's scheduled to be the fly in the soup.

I didn't enjoy the mystery to be solved nearly as much in this one as in The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. In fact, this is my least favorite of the books that Mr. Block wrote in the series. I was disturbed by who Mr. Block selected to be his victims, and found all of the coin collecting details to be not nearly as interesting as the bibliophile content of The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling. Although I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that you skip this one, I suspect that you will be disappointed compared to other books in the series even though the humor and dialogue are wonderfully strong and engaging. But stick with it, the books get much better from here in the series.

This book's theme is being careful about whom you trust. Take nothing for granted . . . including loyalty!

Donald Mitchell...

4-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth more than a nickel
With two deaths associated with a rare coin, Bernie the Burglar is trying to figure out who and why, partly to avenge his friend and fellow Spinoza afficionado, Abel Crowe.Unlike most of the books in this series, the police quickly lose interest in Bernie after the prime victim fails to identify him.Nevertheless, Bernie goes through an imaginitive investigation of his own, calling several museum curators to research the 1913 V nickel, and getting medical attention for his "Morton's feet".The climatic scene is particularly good, as Bernie plays the part of minister, presiding over a funeral, while assembling the suspects for the showdown where he lays out the evidence.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book is a good quick read, well-written and a page-turner.The interplay of the characters is entertaining and inviting, even the final "Charlie Chan movie" type scene where the characters are brought together and the murderer revealed -- the only thing missing in the book is the lights being turned off and the quick scuffle as the perpetrator tries to escape.The author uses occasional deft and subtle humor and brings in interesting tidbits from Spinoza.
The description of the first murder crime scene (paperback page 78) led me to a correct guess of the murderer's identity.
And strangely for a book where much of the plot turns around the type of glove Bernie wore for the burglary (rubber, with the palm removed), the cover shows Bernie taking the nickel from the safe while wearing a complete leather glove.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bernie Rhodenbarr is always fun
When Bernie and Carolyn enter the Colcannon home to ply their trade, they find that they are the second burglars to be in the in the house that night.Bernie takes a valuable 1913-V nickel from the safe.TheColcannons come home early, and when Mrs. Colcannon is murdered, guess whois blamed. . .? Of course, Bernie.When a friend of Bernie's (also thefence with the 1913-V nickel) is also murdered, Bernie must become sleuthto clear his name, and find out who killed these 2 people. A strongaddition to a very funny and entertaining series. ... Read more

7. Hit Parade
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2007-06-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060840897
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Keller is friendly. Industrious. A bit lonely, sometimes. If it wasn't for the fact that he kills people for a living, he'd be just your average Joe. The inconvenient wife, the troublesome sports star, the greedy business partner, the vicious dog, he'll take care of them all, quietly and efficiently. If the price is right.

Like the rest of us, Keller's starting to worry about his retirement. After all, he's not getting any younger. (His victims, on the other hand, aren't getting any older.) So he contacts his "booking agent," Dot, up in White Plains, and tells her to keep the hits coming. He'll take any job, anywhere. His nest egg needs fattening up.

Of course, being less choosy means taking greater risks—and that could buy Keller some big trouble. Then again, in this game, there are plenty of opportunities for some inventive improvisation . . . and a determined self-motivator can make a killing.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling
Keller is a hit man. That is his job and the only thing he can do well. The pay is good, but then he spends a fair bit of it on his stamp collection. Through necessity, and disposition, Keller is a loner, but he does have a confidante in Dot, the office manager, for want of a better word. Dot is the one who fields the calls asking for Keller's services, then contacts him to see if he is available. They have an interesting relationship - almost of mother and son.

The deaths of the victims are not gory; the descriptions are subtly handled, but explicit at the same time.

The events in the book are set around the time of September 11, so there is quite a bit of philosophy. We also learn about how Keller got into the business.

Lawrence's great skill is that we like Keller. It is a humorous book, the humour both straight and black. It is a very enjoyable read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Deadly Boring
I check out this book on Friday evening from the library and took it back on Monday morning. I only got to the First three chapters and I couldn't make and further. I tried really hard. Some book take you on the first chapter and some you have to get halfway before any action takes place. this is one of those books. Terrible, Terrible, Terrible

5-0 out of 5 stars Pollack is right on the money
the earlier review by Neil Pollack is spot on.

I can't add anything that he hasn't covered, I dislike the repetition of the book, it reads better in short story form and should ahve been editied so there wasn't so much recollection to tie the pieces together.
I am a huge Keller fan, it's bright witty and snappy fun.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed
I love Lawrence Block, and I love the character Keller. This book is quite good until it becomes disjointed and episodic. Where'd the plot go?

Still, there's a lot to like because Block can flat-out write. Keller is a compelling character, a hit man, who is obsessed with his stamp collection. I also like Dot, the woman who arranges the hits. Their conversations provide interesting, strong dialogue.

There's a few things that don't work. Wouldn't it be easier for Keller just to shoot his victims? Does he really need to come up with unusual ways to kill them? Also, I could have done without the animal cruelty.

After having pointed out my criticisms, I'll read anything Block writes about Keller in the future.

3-0 out of 5 stars Yes, He Is
I really like Laurence Block, and I've read a couple of Kellers that I liked as well.Perhaps I've just started thinking more about what Keller is actually DOING, and less about the humor and the good writing.It's pretty sick, actually, and saying he "needs the work" in order to buy stamps a bit tough to swallow.

I think I'll skip the rest of these.

... Read more

8. Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, The (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-03-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060731257
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Bernie Rhodenbarr has gone legit -- almost -- as the new owner of a used bookstore in New York's Greenwich Village. Of course, dusty old tomes don't always turn a profit, so to make ends meet, Bernie's forced, on occasion, to indulge in his previous occupation: burglary. Besides which, he likes it.

Now a collector is offering Bernie an opportunity to combine his twin passions by stealing a very rare and very bad book-length poem from a rich man's library.

The heist goes off without a hitch. The delivery of the ill-gotten volume, however, is a different story. Drugged by the client's female go-between, Bernie wakes up in her apartment to find the book gone, the lady dead, a smoking gun in his hand, and the cops at the door. And suddenly he's got to extricate himself from a rather sticky real-life murder mystery and find a killer -- before he's booked for Murder One.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Back to Form
This is the third Bernie Rhodenbarr novel, and though, so far, all three novels have had extremely similar plot lines (Bernie is fingered for a murder he didn't commit and has to find the real murderer to save himself), I loved every second of it. Burglars Can't Be Choosers, the 1st Bernie novel, was a breezy, funny mystery with a fun sotry and lots of laughs. The second Bernie novel, The Burglar in the Closet, kind of stalled...maybe because the plot was almost identacle to the first one. The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, though breaking no new ground, gets Bernie back to his debut form. Like the other two, it is breezy and fun with lots of laughs. And this one is just different enough to keep it from being like the second.

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay Block but not his best
This mystery just seemed to be one by the numbers. The twists are tired, and the characters are one-dimensional. On the good side, there are some humorous bits, and I like the idea of a burglar who will not be reformed. I really wanted to like the lesbian character, but he didn't do enough with her. She got a thankless role, and Block didn't make her much more than a stereotype. This is probably my most disappointing Block read thus far.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Addition to the "Burglar" Collection
I just listened to this tale on a long trip by car and it made the trip go very, very quickly.In this one, Bernie is earnestly trying to go and stay straight, but, like Al Pacino says in "Godfather III," every time he tries to get out, they keep pulling him back in again.

His soulmate friend loves the thrill of stealing (as does Bernie himself).His crooked cop friend has a wife with an appetite for farm-raised mink.And his bookstore customers want to hire him to steal on consignment.

It's a lively, funny book, and you'll love the way it's read on tape.

3-0 out of 5 stars You don't spit on your luck
The man bought a copy of William Cowper's poems from the bargain table.Bernie Rhodenbarr realized the customer was a thief.Bernie told him to get out of the business, to quit lifting things.Bernie was working his way through Kipling.

The name of his store is Barnegat Books.The patron saint of booksellers is Saint John of God.Bernie goes to Murder Ink.Afterwards he goes to Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, a place he describes as an enclave within an enclave.Jesse Arkwright lives in Forest Hills Gardens.His house is an enormous beamed Tudor.

Bernie takes the reader into his confidence, explaining that he is a born thief and he loves it.Burglary produces an adrenaline rush and too, there is delight in the invasion of privacy aspect of the crime.He takes one book from the premises for someone named Rudyard Whelkin, a presumably rare book by Kipling he bestowed on his friend Rider Haggard.

Next Bernie is robbed by a Sikh gentleman.Finally Madeleine Porlock is murdered, leaving Bernie to figure out the connection of the various characters to each other and to the book.Since he awakes to discover he is in the presence of Porlock's body and a gun, he lets himself into a friend's apartment to hide from the police and everyone else.Notably the friend, Carolyn Kaiser, believed that Bernie not longer practiced the craft of burglary and was amazed to see him in her apartment.

Although I prefer the other Lawrence Block central character, Matt Scudder, alcoholic, reformed or otherwise, I do think the handling of the plot in this book is very good.

4-0 out of 5 stars For me, the start of a great new seriesq
I've read all of Kinky Friedman and loved each, some better than others, but all were good.

I have only one "Cat Who ..." book left, but each of those has been a gem.

Marjorie Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers are no longer producing masterpieces, due to untimely demises.

So, I have to seek new series(es?) to explore. My son, whose recommendations have never failed me, suggested Block. I bought this one. I read this one.It was a delight!

The character of Bernie Rhodenbarr is complex and interesting, ranking up there with The Kinkster, Albert Campion, Jim Qwilleran, and Peter Whimsey.

The plot twists in this novel indicate that the Nero Wolfe award (won by this book) is not granted lightly.

I have purchased others. I will read the next one, knowing that one book does not a successful series make. But I am hopeful - and optimistic. ... Read more

9. The Burglar on the Prowl
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-02-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$0.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061030988
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A philosophical yet practical gentleman, Bernie Rhodenbarr possesses many admirable qualities: charm, intelligence, sparkling wit, and unwavering loyalty. Of course, he also has this special talent and a taste for life's finer things. So he's more than willing to perform some vengeful larceny for a friend -- ripping off a smarmy, particularly deserving plastic surgeon -- for fun and a very tidy profit.

But during a practice run at another address, Bernie's forced to hide under a bed when the lady of the house returns unexpectedly with the worst kind of blind date in tow. In no time, Bernie's up to his burgling neck in big trouble. Again. And this time it includes his arrest, no less than four murders, and more outrageous coincidences than any self-preserving felon should ever be required to tie together.

Amazon.com Review
Bernie Rhodenbarr, burglar with a heart of gold, returns for this 10th installment in a reliable series from the versatile and prolific Lawrence Block (70-plus books to date). In Burglar on the Prowl, Bernie is recruited by an old friend to burgle the home of a crooked plastic surgeon, removing some off-the-books cash from a wall safe. A simple enough job, but Bernie complicates matters by going "on the prowl" one restless evening―-randomly cruising for an easy job. While he's pawing through a woman's empty apartment, she returns home; Bernie hides hastily, only to overhear an act of violence that draws him into a hunt for the perpetrator and a deepening role in the victim's life.

Lawrence Block's prose is merely serviceable, but his plotting and storytelling are first-rate. He constructs a complex puzzle, yet weaves in each new development so seamlessly that you almost don't see it happen. Like its Bernie predecessors, The Burglar on the Prowl is droll and charming, and at times you can feel Block trying a bit too hard with the charm. However, a few truly horrific bad guys and some ugly violence keep the sweetness from cloying. And it's impossible not to like Bernie, a gentleman criminal with few peers in contemporary fiction. --Nicholas H. Allison ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

3-0 out of 5 stars First Burglar, second Block
This is the first book I've read in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, and the second Lawrence Block book I've read. I have to say that reading this was a hoot. Block has an interesting writing style and it really stands out from other authors. Whatever fault you may find with the plot, the dialogue and humorous incidents certainly make up for it.

Many reviewers say that this is one of the weaker novels in the Burglar series, and I hope that's true. If it is, this reader's in a for a treat in reading the others.

3/5 stars

5-0 out of 5 stars Another good book
As always Lawrence Block has another exciting quick read book. It is a shame he has taken a break for both his series. But will wait patiently for the next one to hit the shelves.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bloch's Burglar is first class mystery literature.
Bernie (the burglar) is always witty, inventive and in trouble. His fast-paced mysteries are a joy to read and Mr. Bloch's dialogue keeps the memory of Rex Stout alive. I have all the Bernie adventures and hope that his creator loves him as much as I do and will keep on writing for years and years.

2-0 out of 5 stars Huh?????
I like Block and Rodenbarr and have read many in the series.This one is a real letdown.Recently authors appear to be having more and more problems bringing their tales to a satisfactory close.That's true in spades in this book.At the end the author actually has Bernie review what the police will say happened, what really happened, and what could have happened.It is all jumbled and unintelligible.The book ends with a classic showdown in a drawing room like some '30's series.That's no problem but the reader doesn't really know who half the people are or why they are there.It's just too much confusion for a story that's pretty dull to begin with.The author does take time to praise Bernie's illegal immigrant doorman.Apparently Block feels that the high crime rate, astronomical High School drop out rate and appalling illigitimacy rate are nothing compaired with the joy that comes from rich Manhattanites being able to find good menial help who know their place.People don't get much dumber than upper west side liberals.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Roller Coaster Ride!
I've just finished reading THE BURGLAR ON THE PROWL, my third Lawrence Block book in the continuing adventures of master burglar, Bernie Rhodenbar. I have to say that I've enjoyed them all tremendously. The charactors are thoroughly enjoyable and the stories, though wildly improbable, are just too much fun to miss.

Mr. Block writes in a style that is quick but deliberately paced, keeping those pages turning well into the evening. The characters are funny, sterotypical, completely predictable, and absolutely marvelous. That perhaps is the great charm of these books - they are like riding a roller coaster. You can see what's coming a mile away, you anticipate the plunges, dips, swerves and loops. You know they're coming, you're absolutely delighted as you go through them, and you are always satisfied with the result once you're done.

Granted, these stories do not rise to the level of a really engaging John Le Carre, P.D. James or Collin Dexter mystery. Actually, they put me more in mind of a Lilian Jackson Braun "Cat" novel or a really funny episode of Monk on the television. If you want a dark, brooding mystery with gritty realism, leave Block's books on the shelf. If, on the other hand, you want a great experience of light reading on a cold winter's evening or while lounging on a sunny beach - these are the books for you. ... Read more

10. Time to Murder and Create (Matthew Scudder)
by Lawrence Block, Jonathan Kellerman
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (1991-11-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380763656
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Small-time stoolie, Jake " The Spinner" Jablon, made a lot of new enemies when he switched careers, from informer to blackmailer. And the more "clients", he figured, the more money -- and more people eager to see him dead. So no one is surprised when the pigeon is found floating in the East River with his skull bashed in.And what's worse, no one cares -- except Matthew Scudder.The ex-cop-turned-private-eye is no conscientious avenging angel. But he's willing to risk his own life and limb to confront Spinner's most murderously aggressive marks. A job's a job after all -- and Scudder's been paid to find a killer -- by the victim...in advance.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Murder Mystery in the Scudder Series
This is a good Scudder murder mystery.Scudder searches for a blackmail victim who murdered his friend.Who can this be?Is it the pedophile who hopes to be the next governor of New York; the society lady with a history of hooking and starring in porno flicks; the architect who paid off a judge to get his daughter exonerated from adrunken hit and run accident that resulted in a child's death?

Naturally, the killer decides that suicide's next.Block and Scudder never let the reader down if a good hard-boiled mystery is your cup of tea.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Block does it again
Time to Murder and Create is another attention holding Matt Scudder mystery.I have read nearly all of them and do not look forward to the day I run out of new ones to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pick A Murderer
A small-time hood and grass who was an acquaintance of Matt Scudder's during his days as a cop comes calling when he fears for his life. The man, known as `The Spinner' was stringing along 3 different blackmail victims, but became aware that one of them was trying to kill him. Unfortunately, he doesn't know which one. He wants Scudder to hold onto a package for him that is to be opened in the event of his death, which is all too inevitable.

Naturally enough, Scudder accepts and then honours his agreement to find out who the murderer is. In order to flush out The Spinner's murderer, Matt decides to confront each of the people being blackmailed with the news that they're still not off the hook in the hope that one of them will blink. The obvious downside to this plan is that he would be making himself a target which, if you forget about the subsequent 13 Matt Scudder books for a moment, makes for some very tense and exciting reading.

This is quite a fast-paced mystery that gives us multiple suspects to choose from with the wrong choice possibly proving fatal. Scudder is still an introspective soul who seems to view the world and his place in it with bemusement. Lawrence Block doesn't waste a word in his narrative which serves to move things along nicely.

It's another compelling entry in a series that I think fans of hardboiled crime books would love.

4-0 out of 5 stars Bumbling along
The second in this series of 14 mysteries, soon to be 15, finds our unlikely hero Matthew Scudder further along on his trek to alcoholism, mixed up in unsavory mahem, and trying to get by day to day. It's an interesting case: A blackmailer posthumously hires Matt to determine which of his three pidgeons killed him. So the quasi-detective sets himself up as the blackmailer's replacement to entice the murderer to strike at him so he can solve the case. Matthew, because his mind is becoming benumbed by booze or maybe he just isn't a very good detective, bumbles this case every step of the way, and comes to a less than satisfactory conclusion -- the type of ending only Block has the nerve to create. It's book noir at a higher level. The dialogue is terrific and true, the settings in Manhattan are recorded with exactness, it's a fine tale that kept me reading well into the night. One aspect I especially appreciated, Block didn't seem to feel he needed gratuitous foul language in this second in the series as he did in the first. The book is a great example of why the series is so popular.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not bad early Scudder with a disturbing flaw
"Time to Murder and Create" is the second novel in the Matthew Scudder series.Like many of the earlier Scudder tales, it is relatively short and not a greatly complex story.The plotline is clever; an extortionist gets a premonition of his own murder and hires Scudder in advance to investigate if anything happens to him.The story is well told, and this still being Scudder's drinking period, it is full of plenty of despair and loneliness.One major flaw exists however.One of the people the extortionist is blackmailing is politically connected figure who has sex with underage boys.Scudder's lack of outrage at the man's activity leads to a less than approriate conclusion of the story.If this had been Andrew Vachss' Burke, the pedophile would have gotten his just desserts.Overall, this is a fairly conventional mystery by Block standards.But it does have its moments. ... Read more

11. In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 272 Pages (1992-06-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380763621
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Bad cop Jerry Broadfield didn't make any friends on the force when he volunteered to squeal to an ambitious d.a. about police corruption. Now he'saccused of murdering a call girl. Matthew Scudder doesn't think Broadfield's a killer, but the cops aren't about to help the unlicensed p.i. prove it -- and they may do a lot worse than just get in his way.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Matt Scudder Solves Another One
Lawrence Block is an excellent writer, and he is at his best with the grim streets of New York and bleak lives of many of its inhabitants. Matt Scudder is an ex-cop who quit the force after one of his shots went astray and killed a little girl. Now, he works as an investigator. In this story, Jerry Broadfield, a police officer, has blown the whistle on his fellow cops. Immediately, a prostitute charges him with extortion. He hires Scudder to investigate, but before Scudder can do much, the prostitute ends up dead in Broadfield's apartment. Scudder suspects a frame up, but proving it is difficult. If not Broadfield, who murdered the prostitute? And why did Broadfield turn against his fellow officers? Block gives us the clues as Scudder unravels the case while fighting a losing battle against becoming an alcoholic. The story moves fairly quickly and should keep your interest to the end.

4-0 out of 5 stars Scudder Heads Towards Oblivion
In this, the 3rd book in the series, Matt Scudder is asked for help by a New York copy who believes a prostitute is setting him up. Before he can make too many inroads into the case, the prostitute is dead and the policeman is arrested on suspicion of being responsible. Something doesn't ring true to Scudder, particularly when he finds out the cop has been providing information to Internal Affairs, putting him on the out with his fellow officers.

This is one of the darker books in the Matt Scudder series with Matt sinking into a growing depression and succumbing to the bottle with increasing regularity. Although sinking heavily into alcoholism in this book, he still manages to hold it all together enough to perform his job admirably well.

Scudder is a very interesting character, but he is also defined by the actions that he can't explain, even to himself. A perfect example of this is his habit of tithing. He admits that he is in no way religious, yet every time he is paid, he tithes ten per cent of his earnings to the nearest church. The amusing part is that Scudder can't explain why he does it and reacts to it with head-shaking bemusement.

This is a typical hardboiled mystery, sometimes despairingly so, featuring a character who grows more fascinating and enigmatic the more we find out about him.

4-0 out of 5 stars The series is starting to take off
For for the first time in the Matt Scudder series -- now three books long -- the word "alcoholic" rears its ugly head; it's not uttered by Matt, but suggested by a questioning friend. And Matt is full of denial: he can stop anytime he wants, he doesn't drink that much, it doesn't interfere with his capabilities. But, during the solving of this mystery, Matt's seldom far from his last or next drink, he's already suffering blackouts, and he made several tactical, and possibly deadly, errors because of a brain fogged by burbon and coffee. But in between his repeated toss-backs, we have another tight little mystery: This time his client is a cop on the take who gets too greedy and is set up to appear to have killed a hooker. And we get to meet some original and intriguing characters: like Doug Furhman, a character that would be perfect for the acting talents of the late Elisha Cook, Jr., and Kenny the owner of Sinthia's, a gay Village bar. Elaine, the call girl, is back from the first book with a more substantial role in this tale. And there's the client's wife with whom Matt has fling, thankfully alluded to, not given a full desription by Block. And Matt keeps the affair going by feeding her the lines she wants to hear, or could it be that he is so desperately lonely that he really means them and it is her that is stringing his emotions along? It's a dirty big city, but I'm glad Matt lives there and Lawrence Block takes us along with him on his adventures.

4-0 out of 5 stars A short but engaging early Scudder novel
Lawrence Block's early Matthew Scudder novels are considerably shorter and less complex than later entries in the series.Scudder was still drinking during this time period and here he makes his first acknowledgement that it might be getting out of control.The plot is intriguing, a dirty cop begins cooperating with an anti-corruption probe and is framed for murder.Scudder must answer two questions who did the frame up and why did the cop suddenly decide to become a rat? "In the Midst of Death" is one of the bleaker entires in the Scudder series both in terms of its outcome and for what happens in Scudder's personal life.It is not an essential entry in the series, but it is a good one.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but not up to Block's normal high standard.
With this book, the third in the Matthew Scudder series, Scudder is hired by a crooked cop named Jerry Broadfield, who decides to grab a bit of the limelight by exposing corruption in the police department. Problem: ahooker Broadfield was seeing turns up dead in his apartment.The policewon't do much to investigate, of course, because Broadfield betrayed thebadge.That leaves Scudder to go after the killer.

It's a good book, butit doesn't measure up to the high standards set by other volumes in theseries.Part of this is because there's not enough focus on thecharacters.Seems strange to type that about Lawrence Block, who normallywrites great characters.This time around it feels like he wasn't surewhere he wanted to go with the series, so Matt is the same at the end ofthe book as he was at the beginning.He's simply there to go through themotions and solve the crime.

However, even on Block's worst day, he'sbetter than most writers on their best day.So the book will stillentertain you and it's worth reading.Just don't expect to be blown awaythis time. ... Read more

12. Enough Rope
by Lawrence Block
Paperback: 896 Pages (2003-11-01)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$4.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060559675
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description

Enough Rope, a collection of superb stories, establishes the extraordinary skill, power, and versatility of contemporary Grand Master Lawrence Block.

Block's beloved series characters are on hand, including ex-cop Matt Scudder, bookselling burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and the disarming duo of Chip Harrison and Leo Haig. Here, too, are Keller, the wistful hit man, and the natty attorney Martin Ehrengraf. Keeping them company are dozens of other refugees from Block's dazzling imagination, all caught up in more ingenious plots than you can shake a blunt instrument at.

Half a dozen of Block's stories have been short-listed for the Edgar Award, and three have won it outright. All the tales in Block's three previous collections are here, along with two dozen new stories. Some will keep you on the edge of the chair. Others will make you roll on the floor laughing. Enough Rope is an essential volume for Lawrence Block fans, and a dazzling introduction for others to the wonderful world of Block magic!

Amazon.com Review
This hefty collection of acclaimed mystery master Lawrence Block's short fiction is packed with delights for fans of his many popular series as well as first-time readers who haven't yet met the engrossing protagonists who people them, including Keller, the thoughtful hit man; private eye Matt Scudder; burglar and bookstore owner Bernie Rhodenbarr; and Martin Ehrengraf, the well-dressed lawyer who takes criminal cases on a contingency basis and has his own devious methods for making sure his clients are always acquitted. But it's the non-series stories that are the standouts here, particularly "Cleveland in My Dreams," in which a psychiatrist comes up with a novel way to rid a patient of a relentless nightmare, and the patient passes on the "cure" to an unsuspecting friend; "Collecting Ackermans" and "Death Wish," two standouts about jealousy and its discontents; and a handful of other little gems with central characters who may not merit their own series because they're just not very likable, but show off Block's ability to keep the reader guessing until the last sentence. It may be hard to pick up--if only because it runs nearly a thousand pages--but this wry, witty, well-wrought collection is even harder to put down. --Jane Adams ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Solid building Block
883 pages is a lot of book, or as Block says in the introduction (attributing to a friend, but we know better after reading the book!), 84 stories isn't a book, it's a skyscraper.

This book merits its 5-star Rating based on a straight-through reading forced by a three-week, no-renewal new-book policy at the library, but would be even better sitting on the shelf for reading in smaller chunks.

The stories cover several different character-based series, and collections of old and new stories arranged randomly--alphabetically by title, which as Block explains and becomes obvious to the reader by book's end, is a most effective method of creating apparent order in the midst of meaningless chaos.

The stories are seldom straight standard detective fiction, often taking on a psychological Twilight Zone thriller feel, with subtle shifts of setting, meaning, and perspective keeping the reader off guard and guessing--and usually shaking his head with a gentle ironic grin at the end.

Not to pick out any favorites of a consistently quality collection, a couple of particularly strong series are based on Martin Ehrengraf, a criminal lawyer who only represents innocent clients and only collects a fee if the client never faces trial (after all, Ehrengraf tells one client, do you really want to put your life in the hands of 12 people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty?), and always ensures that he collects through means legal, illegal, or other; and Keller, a killer-for-hire with a strong sense of justice, a Gemini if not gentle sensitivity, and a June 19th birthday, a fact that (even though I know it affected me more than most readers purely by chance) practically lifted me out of my seat.

5-0 out of 5 stars Block Fans Rejoice! How Can You Go Wrong for $10?
Those of us who have followed the redemption of Matt Scudder, the moral musings of post modern hit man Keller, and the hapless Bernie Rodenbhar series, know the letdown you feel when you have read them all, and must wait till the next new release!
Well, here is a great sampler of many new, and many classic short stories about the quirky continuing characters of Lawrence Block that you probably haven't read yet. . Just the right length for a quick fix of Block irony, and arranged by character, this is a great beach book or airport companion. You may have read a few of these, but I found some new stuff well worth the price...I consider it the canon of an earlier Block and a whale of a paperback!

1-0 out of 5 stars (I wish I had) enough rope
The first four stories of Enough Rope were bad enough for me never to buy a book written by Mr. Block again. His writing is pedestrian and he clumsily tries to spice it up by throwing in polysyllabic words. Finally, I began picking stories at random to see whether there would be any improvement. It was an utter waste of time.

1-0 out of 5 stars R-E-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-U-S- repetitive, TO SAY THE LEAST
Dang near every story ran the same course, which was, the "client" turns out to be the "killer".Every single
story was predictable.I found none of them to be original or special.

Mr. Block, along the line of Elmore Leonard, has a gift for dialoge but his stories are dull and repetitious.

And the book itself was so bloody heavy it was a pain to comfortably read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bargain price, bundle of brilliant stories...
I discovered Lawrence Block when he was writing a monthly column for "Writer's Digest" magazine back in the late 70's. His contribution was always the highlight of each issue, so I began reading his novels and short stories. Now almost all of his shorter pieces, over a 40-year career, are in this volume...885 pages worth. For the price, you can't get another book that will give you as much enjoyment as this one, and teach you about well-crafted writing to boot. All his tales have a twist, and he wastes no words. Block is as good in his own way as Dick Francis and Robert B. Parker are in theirs. I had read many of these older stories in the 80's, but forgot the details until encountering them again in this volume. He'll occasionally make you laugh, more often give you a shiver, but always, his people resonate, even the darkest characters. If you know Block's work from his mystery/detective/humor series, you already know that you want to own this. If you haven't started the LB habit yet, this is "Enough Rope" to tie you up in him for years. ... Read more

13. Lucky at Cards (Hard Case Crime)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 220 Pages (2007-01-30)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843957689
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Here's a review from Publisher's Weekly:

The Hard Case Crime imprint has found a perfect partner in Block, as this gritty grifter's tale, in print for the first time in 40 years, goes to show. In a small town somewhere between Chicago and New York, down on his luck card shark Bill Maynard stops off to take care of his teeth, recently broken in a beating he took for fixing a game. Planning to stay only long enough to heal, Bill's plans change when his dentist invites him to join a friendly game of poker. Having fooled the locals and earned a bundle at the game, Bill's ready to leave town when he falls hard for his host's sexy young wife, Joyce, who isn't fooled by his card tricks. Indeed, she's got higher stakes in mind: after seducing him, she ropes Bill into that old scheme, helping her get rid of her hubby. The plot twists here, then there, then back again, rooted in Block's strong characters and no-nonsense prose style

And here's another from Booklist:
Before Matt Scudder, before Bernie Rhodenbarr, before being named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Lawrence Block turned out paperback originals. This one--unavailable for more than 40 years--now receives a timely reissue from Hard Case Crime. It's a doozy. Bill Maynard is a card mechanic (cheater) who took a beating in Chicago and now is in serious need of some dental work. He finds it in an unnamed burg on the road to New York, and he also finds a nice little poker game. But who wanders into the game but one of the player's wives--who just happens to know a mechanic when she sees one. Soon enough Maynard and the wife are plotting to skip town with the husband's money, but, of course, the plan goes awry--in part because the square's life starts to feel good to our card shark. Block unwinds his plot superbly, pointing toward a classic noir finale but then seeming to pull away--or maybe not. And, along the way, there is all the teasing sexuality and tongue-in-cheek noir style that a pulp devotee craves. Bill Ott

And the author says:

I read this while reformatting it for Kindle, and have to say it's as good as any of my work of the period.I published it with Beacon because I'd split with my then-agent and needed a quick sale, and used a pen name because it was with Beacon.It really should have come out under my name from Gold Medal.Oh well.Not the only bad decision I made back in the day.

The book probably owes a little to The Tooth & The Nail, by Bill S. Ballinger, a fine writer who's pretty much forgotten these days. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars a real mystery thriller
This is a real pulp fiction book written by the legend writer Lawrence Block who has a vast resume of classic books. Hard Case Fiction has done a great job of both reissue of different novels as well as new novels put out that are as easy to read as the orginal authors. The pulp fiction era was in the 30's & 40's and got it's name pulp from the type of paper that was used . Itwas quite rough paper. The novel is a twist and turn story and follows all the well written classic Lawrence Block mysteries. Do yourself a favor and check out this mystery that is short and sweet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Always great retro - mystery
Great story, really captures the fine art of mixing characters and events, always fun !!

5-0 out of 5 stars My Grandfather called these, "Dime Detective Novels."
My grandfather retired to Florida in the 50's and read "Dime Detective Novels" by the dozens. I believe this Block would qualify as a dime detective novel, except that it now costs $7.I read everything that Lawrence Block writes. "Lucky ..." is so good that I have sent it to several friends. All have been thrilled. I only wish Lawrence Block could go back in time and write many more "Hard Case Crime" novels. If you like "Lucky," then I suspect you will like all that Block has written.

3-0 out of 5 stars Serviceable early Bloch
Lucky at Cards is a rough mix of a great card game tale like Milton Burton's The Rogue's Game with James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.Unfortunately, it is by an early Lawrence Block and not up to the quality of his later works such as the Edgar award winning When the Sacred Ginmill Closes.

That's not to say it's a bad book.His description of the poker game, and the strategies (or lack thereof) used by the players in this book are quite compelling.However, whenever an author ventures into territory like The Postman, then he is treading well-traveled ground and must struggle to find some way to keep us interested.

Bloch succeeds far more with that task in the card playing aspect than he does the unfaithful wife aspect.Dialog in the former fairly crackles; in the latter it is hackneyed and predictable.As another reviewer has noted, you'll be better server by Bloch's The Girl with the Long Green Heart if you want femme fatales.

5-0 out of 5 stars All aces
You know you're in the classic noir time zone when our protagonist is disgusted by the taste of nicotine on the fingers of the dentist working on his teeth. Bill, a professional card sharp, has lammed out of Chicago with a mouth full of broken teeth (guess why). A pause for dental repairs at some huckburg. An invitation to a poker game. At the game, one of the player's wives, Joyce, wanders in and, on the QT, let's Bill know she recognizes what he's doing. Bill and Joyce, being two of a kind, plot to take hubby's money.( Interestingly, it's not by killing him.) While Bill starts putting the set-up in place, he takes a job as cover. What do you know? He's good at this job! Then he meets a soulful school teacher, who digs him. Two paths. Which one? You may think you have it figured out, but Block pulls off a twist ending that will have you grinning and shaking your head. If you like your pulp high on wit and low on gunplay, this is your book. ... Read more

14. The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 400 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060872799
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Bookseller Bernie Rhodenbarr's in love—with an exotic Eastern European beauty who shares his obsession with Humphrey Bogart movies. He's in heaven, munching popcorn with his new amour every night at a Bogart Film Festival—until their Casablanca-esque idyll is cut short by his other secret passion: burglary.

When he's hired to pilfer a portfolio of valuable documents from a Park Avenue apartment, Bernie can hardly refuse. But the occupant's early return forces Bernie to flee empty-handed—and he soon finds himself implicated in a murder. Before you can say "who stole the strawberries?" he's hunting for a killer, up to his neck in the outrageous intrigues of a tiny Balkan nation . . . and menaced by more sinister fat men and unsavory toadies than the great Bogie himself butted heads with in pursuit of that darn bird!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart
"The Burglar Who Thought He was Bogart" is the seventh Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery by Lawrence Block. In this novel, Bernie is hired to steal a portfolio from an apartment in a high rise building. He finds it, but before he can leave with it, he is interrupted by 2 lovers who finally leave. When Bernie goes back to get the portfolio it is gone. There are 2 murders including the man who hired Bernie to steal the portfolio. Bernie also meets an attractive Eastern European woman Ilona who shares his passion for Humphrey Bogart movies and they attend several of the movies in which Bogie acted. As always the character of Bernie Rhodenbarr is endearing, and the reader learns quite a bit about the movies of Bogart, but for me the plot was too convoluted and hard to follow. This novel is not nearly as good as the earlier 'Burglar' novels. Only hard core fans of this series will enjoy this one and I would not recommend anyone beginning the series with this one. Start with "The Burglar in the Closet" and "Burglars Can't Be Choosers". They are excellent and very entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Gentleman Burglar
This is one of the best of Lawrence Block's gentleman burglar series.A delightful read

4-0 out of 5 stars Witty and Engaging
I've enjoyed Lawrence Block's writing style for some time, and liked this story greatly.It is very, very helpful to be familiar with the movies of Humphrey Bogart in order to get the most out of this yarn.

The book sort of parodies itself, in a real way.The writing is self-referencing and ironic.Perhaps its most attractive feature, though, is the reader being led to empathize, if not sympathize, with the intrinsic rewards of being a burglar, coupled with a sense that you can get results by operating outside the law which people constrained by legality otherwise would have to suffer through patiently.The descriptions are great, and the characters deliberately overdrawn and exaggerated to make a point.

Very, very enjoyable stuff.

3-0 out of 5 stars First Burglar Book and probably my last
Knowing the writer's very good reputation and popularity as a mystery writer was probably a disadvantage in reading this book. This book was a dissapointment.I soon tired of the device of weaving the Bogart film festival into the far-fetched mystery.Glad when I got to the end.No more Burglar books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bernie Plays Bogie in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon!
Lawrence Block is one of our most talented mystery authors. In the Bernie Rhodenbarr series he explores how an ordinary, but intelligent, "honest" person might go about pursuing a life of crime as a fastidious and talented burglar who isn't proud of what he does, doesn't like to hang out with criminals, and really gets a big thrill out of breaking and entering . . . and removing valuables. As you can see, there's a sitcom set-up to provide lots of humor. But the humor works well in part because Mr. Block is able to put the reader in the Bernie's shoes while he breaks, enters and steals . . . and evades the long arm of the law. To balance the "honest" burglar is an array of "dishonest" and equally easy-money loving cops. As a result, you're in a funny moral never-never land while your stomach tightens and your arm muscles twitch as tension builds. To make matters even more topsy-turvy, Bernie at some point in every story turns into an investigator who must figure out "who-dun-it" for some crime that he personally didn't do. It's almost like one of those "mystery at home" games where the victim comes back as the police investigator, playing two roles. Very nice!

So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart is the seventh book in the series. I strongly suggest that you begin the series by reading Burglars Can't Be Choosers and follow it up with The Burglar in the Closet, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza, The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian and The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams. Each story in the series adds information and characters in a way that will reduce your pleasure of the others if read out of order. Although, I originally read them out of order and liked them well enough. I'm rereading them now in order, and like it much better this way. The Burglar in the Library comes next in the series.

The series, always comical and satirical, takes a new turn in The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart.The spoof expands to the detective/thriller genre in general.I found this change to be a welcome and charming one.Anyone who is a Bogart fan will appreciate the many references to Bogart movies and famous lines in them.

My fascination with Bogart began when I was a freshman in college, and a local theater offered a Bogart festival every semester . . .just when students were supposed to be catching up on their reading and getting ready for final exams.For eight semesters, I spent many happy hours seeing the same Bogart movies . . . over and over again.As Bernie spends three weeks at the movies in this book, I felt like I was back in college again watching him.

Hugo Candlemas comes to Bernie's Barnegat Books and mentions that they have a friend in common, Abel Crowe, a fence who appeared in The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza.They arrange to meet later at Hugo's apartment, where Bernie agrees to lift a portfolio from a desk in another apartment for a minimum of $5,000.The actual caper reprises with slight variations some of the highlights of earlier novels in the series like The Burglar in the Closet and The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian.The story is set against a backdrop of Bernie falling in love with the beautiful and mysterious Ilona, whom he meets every night to watch two Bogart films, share a tub of popcorn, hold hands and then part in separate cabs.The Ilona thread of the story builds off of Casablanca.After Bernie fails to get secure the portfolio, mysterious strangers begin appearing, making offers for the item.This part of the story builds from some of the base of The Maltese Falcon.Watch for Wilmer in a close reference.Throughout, Bernie finds himself drawn to living the role of the classic Bogart hero, uncaring on the surface . . . but with a heart of gold and the mind of an idealist.

You are not supposed to take this mystery and story too seriously, but it does have a nice "dying clue" element that will intrigue many hard core mystery buffs.

The theme of this book focuses on what is valuable and what is not.Mr. Block comes down soundly on the side of friends, loyalty and love over mere physical possessions.It's his best critique yet of our obsessions with material goods and so-called wealth.After you enjoy this wonderful book, ask yourself where you could have a richer life by putting people ahead of possessions.

Donald Mitchell
Co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage ... Read more

15. Burglars Can't Be Choosers
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-02)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060582553
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Bernie Rhodenbarr is a personable chap, a good neighbor, a passable poker player. His chosen profession, however, might not sit well with some. Bernie is a burglar, a good one, effortlessly lifting valuables from the not-so-well-protected abodes of well-to-do New Yorkers like a modern-day Robin Hood. (The poor, as Bernie would be the first to tell you, alas, have nothing worth stealing.)

He's not perfect, however; he occasionally makes mistakes. Like accepting a paid assignment from a total stranger to retrieve a particular item from a rich man's apartment. Like still being there when the cops arrive. Like having a freshly slain corpse lying in the next room, and no proof that Bernie isn't the killer.

Now he's really got his hands full, having to locate the true perpetrator while somehow eluding the police -- a dirty job indeed, but if Bernie doesn't do it, who will?

Amazon.com Review
The latest in theBernie Rhodenbarr seriesby multiple-awardwinner Block has Bernie underestimating the difficulty of breakinginto a posh East Side apartment to steal a blue leather-covered box.No box, dead body, bum murder rap.Not so easy.The New York TimesBook Review has called the Rhodenbarr books, "A witty series.Bernie is incorrigibly adorable.Between his inquiring mind and hissticky fingers, Bernie is the ideal sleuth." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Enjoyable
This is the first book I've read from the Burglar series, and my first Block book as well. The highest praise that I can give 'Burglars Can't be Chooseres' is to say that I started it Saturday morning and finished it before I went to bed Saturday night. Now, I read a lot, but I seldom finish a book in one day. 'Burglars Can't be Choosers' is such a breeze to read and every second is loads of fun. I would compare it to Robert B. Parker's Spenser series in that it is very fast paced and doesn't get bogged down with a lot of superfluous details. Also, like the Spenser books, 'Burglars' is full of well-done dialogue that is fun and realistic. If you are looking for a thinking man's mystery, this probably isn't for you, but if you just want an enjoyable, lighthearted mystery that will leave you hungry for more, then Bernie is your man and 'Burglars Can't be Choosers' is your book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Burglars Can't Be Choosers
I enjoy reading all of LB books but this series is fast reading and allot of twists and turns.Bernie sounds like a real doll but sure can get into trouble.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bernie R. Hadn't Jelled Yet
This was Lawrence Block's first Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery. Originally published in 1977 it features Block's humor, but it's missing his nifty plotting and three-dimensional women characters. It features yet another example of Block's obsession with lesbians (someone could write a dissertation thesis on this), but this time it seems gratuitious and exploitive. Read this one for background, but there are much better books in the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Light-Hearted Caper Novel
Burglars Can't Be Choosers (1977) introduces Bernie Rhodenbarr, a burglar in New York City. While on the job in a fancy apartment, Bernie is surprised by two policemen responding to a call. Recognizing one, Bernie offers a bribe, which is accepted, and all is well until the other cop finds a dead body in the bedroom. Bernie makes a quick escape and hides out in the apartment of an actor acquaintance who is on tour. With the assistance of the girl who appears to water his friend's plants, Bernie is soon on the hunt for the real murderer. Bernie is a charming protagonist, quick-witted and proud of his burglary skills. This lighthearted caper is a fast-moving puzzle with enough surprises to keep you guessing until the end.


4-0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Block's favorite character!
Personally, we enjoyed the Matt Scudder and Keller novels by Lawrence Block better than the Bernie Rhodenbarr series! But according to Craig Ferguson, Mr. Block prefers bumbling, burgling Bernie, so what do I know? If you haven't read the 16 Scudder novels, or the 4 Keller novels yet, what the heck are you waiting for??? ... Read more

16. Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence)
by Lawrence Block
Hardcover: 464 Pages (2003-02-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$0.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060011904
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

The author of dozens of acclaimed novels including those in the Scudder and Keller series, Lawrence Block has long been recognized as one of the premier crime writers of our time. Now, the breathtaking skill, power, and versatility of this Grand Master are brilliantly displayed once again in a mesmerizing new thriller set on the streets of the city he knows and loves so well.

That was the thing about New York -- if you loved it, if it worked for you, it ruined you for anyplace else in the world.

In this dazzlingly constructed novel, Lawrence Block reveals the secret at the heart of the Big Apple. His glorious metropolis is really a small town, filled with men and women from all walks of life whose aspirations, fears, disappointments, and triumphs are interconnected by bonds as unbreakable as they are unseen. Pulsating with the lives of its denizens -- bartenders and hookers, power brokers and politicos, cops and secretaries, editors and dreamers -- the city inspires a passion that is universal yet unique in each of its eight million inhabitants, including:

John Blair Creighton, a writer on the verge of a breakthrough;

Francis Buckram, a charismatic ex–police commissioner -- and the inside choice for the next mayor -- on the verge of a breakdown;

Susan Pomerance, a beautiful, sophisticated folk-art dealer plumbing the depths of her own fierce sexuality;

Maury Winters, a defense attorney who prefers murder trials because there's one less witness;

Jerry Pankow, an ex-addict who has turned being clean into a living, mopping up after New York's nightlife;

And, in the shadows of a city reeling from tragedy, an unlikely killing machine who wages a one-man war against them all.

Infused with the raw cadence, stark beauty, and relentless pace of New York City, Small Town is a tour de force Block fans old and new will celebrate.

Amazon.com Review
A solid craftsman with five bestselling series under his belt as well as numerous standalone mysteries and short-story collections to his credit, Lawrence Block breaks new ground with a resonant, compelling thriller about one man's response to the Twin Towers tragedy--an insane yet totally comprehensible, seemingly unconnected string of serial murders, or, as the killer calls them, "sacrifices" to the city he believes will be reborn out of the ashes of destruction. Block, a New Yorker born and bred, has penned a paean to the Manhattan he knows and loves, and created a cast of fascinating characters whose lives are touched by the killings. Among the most interesting are a woman whose sexual obsessions ensnare a former police commissioner who's being groomed for higher political office, a crime novelist uncertain about his own culpability in the so-called Carpenter Killings, and a gay housecleaner whose clients keep ending up dead. This may be Block's best novel to date--it's certainly his most erotic and astonishing one, and it will keep you going until the last extraordinary page. A mesmerizing take on New York after 9/11, this solidly paced, brilliantly executed thriller deserves all the attention it will surely receive. --Jane Adams ... Read more

Customer Reviews (68)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Human Story, but maybe not for the Faint of Heart
Marilyn takes home a stranger from a bar. The next morning her conscientious cleaning person cleans and wipes most of the crime scene before he discovers her body in the bedroom. Someone is killing and the cleaner discovers more bodies as more of his clients have their chips cashed in.

It's only been a year since the terrorist attacks and New York is still on edge, now there's a serial killer on a spree. Everybody wants the killer caught in this story with well drawn characters and more than enough suspense. There is the main suspect, a writer who was with Marilyn on the night she died, who conveniently can't remember much of that night. There is the ex-police commissioner who has been forced to retire and seems to question his self worth. There's the art dealer who has a lot in common with the dead woman when it comes to sexual experimentation.

This is an intense, gritty, hard-core story and not for the faint of heart. But it's also a story that I highly recommend, a sad story of a killer, a story of people coming together, a human story.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time
I picked up the unabridged 13 disc audio version of this novel at my local library. I can't recommend it.

While the "killer on the loose" part was fairly interesting, the sex scenes seemed to be just added to lengthen the book. I'm not a prude, but practically all of the sex scenes could have been removed and this would have been a much more interesting "thriller".

The book was long and at times just plain boring.

In fact, disc 6 was defective and wouldn't play, so I skipped it entirely, only to find that I could still easily understand the rest of the novel.

I wanted to see what was going to happen to the "killer", but every time the story turned to a "love scene" it was more of a turn off than it was a turn on.

The book could have been MUCH shorter. That alone would have improved it. I doubt I'll be reading/listening to any other novels written by this author.

Save your time and enjoy something else instead.

5-0 out of 5 stars Block At His Best
As a long-time Block fan, initially I felt saddened that Scudder and other favorites would not be appearing in this volume.It did take a few chapters for me to be drawn into the novel, but once that happened I was hooked.

The book presents a fascinating mystery: a serial killer dealing with a post 9/11 psychological meltdown resulting from a great personal loss. It also offers a coherent presentation of the "small-town" elements of NYC, where connectivity and also distance -- both physical and emotional -- is alive and well among the characters.And as usual, New Yorkand Block's knowledge of it shines.

Judging from other reviews here, the explicit sexuality was disturbing to some people and deemed excessive by others.I found those scenes relevant to the plot, within the limits of reality and supporting character development, adding appropriate tension and suspense to the story line.

A great read, one of Block's best.

5-0 out of 5 stars Overlooked Classic
I must say that this was the second Lawrence Block book I read. The first was "Hit List" about the hit man Keller. Honestly after reading that one I never wanted to read another Block book. It wasn't bad, just boring beyond belief. As sometimes happens in life though plans changed. I ended up with another Block book in my hands. This one was "Small Town."

"Small Town" is the most honest, graphic, and cathartic look at NYC post 9/11 I have seen. The pain of that day is directly reflected in the conversations and in the characters' actions. However the true pain and grief is best displayed in the characters themselves. The police Commissioner having an illicit affair is the perfect metaphor for the city after 9/11. All of the characters - whether intentional or not - strike me as metaphors for different aspect of the city itself. They also strike me as metaphors for the awakenings and knee jerk repressions that followed that day.

This book is full of subtexts, themes, metaphors, symbolism, and heart. It is has all of the components literature professors tell us to look for. Yet it also has that gritty edge that you expect from a noir/pulp writer like Block. Never once does he look away from the true depths of the human experience in those first months and years following 9/11. He hands us all of the heartache, love, hate, and uncertainty in a very raw manner.

I wouldn't hesitate to call this one of my favorite books of all time. It is a richly textured and emotionally deep literary masterpiece. A rare gem in a time when the lowest common denominator is usually the intended target. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone and everyone that enjoys literature with an edge, or noir with a touch of sophistication.

One warning before I finish. This book is not intended for those that are easily offended by sexuality. Even though it does serve a huge purpose for the plot (and as a metaphor of sorts), the sex is graphic. There are scenes that will be described as kinky by the more adventurous. The more puritanical will call it perverted.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing results from a fine author

Small Town is a long, complex, mystery, with many interesting characters.
A skilled writer, such as Block, could wrap a good novel around several
of them. Some of the characters are well developed and interesting in
this novel. Unfortunately, the whole is not just less than the sum of its
parts, the whole is less than some of its parts.Over and over, I kept
imagining Block with two thoughts. One, "I want to do something completely
different." Perhaps he has, and perhaps that makes him happy, but "Small
Town" did not make me happy. If I was not already a fan, I would avoid him.
Two, "I've got all these snippets of dialog, character, plot, and NY trivia
that I've not been able to work into any of my other books, so I'll dump
them all into one big book.There is good writing in many of the episodes,
but the book does not work well. I'll be back for more Block, but it will
be in spite of "Small Town."
... Read more

17. A Drop of the Hard Stuff
by Lawrence Block
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2011-05-12)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$25.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316127337
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Matthew Scudder is finally on the straight and narrow when he runs into "High-Low" Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx. In Scudder, Jack sees the moral man he might have become. In Jack, Scudder sees the hard-won sobriety he hopes to achieve. Then Ellery, following to the letter the dictates of Alcoholics Anonymous' infamous twelve steps, is shot down while attempting to atone for past sins, and Scudder is drawn into a murder investigation that threatens to upset his path toward recovery--and get him killed in the process.

Exploring themes of loss, nostalgia, and redemption, for Lawrence Block, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF circles back to how it all began, reestablishing why the Matthew Scudder series is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of American detective fiction. ... Read more

18. Tanner's Tiger (Evan Tanner Suspense Thrillers)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 256 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061262366
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Cold War's boiling over. Global tensions are near the breaking point. So what's the perfect assignment for a super-spy who hasn't slept since the Korean conflict? A fun-filled trip to the Montreal World's Fair!

The adorable little girl he's escorting—who, under different circumstances, would be sitting on the Lithuanian throne—can hardly contain her excitement, but it isn't all playtime for Evan Tanner. Some mysterious disappearances, apparently linked to the fair's Cuban exhibition, need to be looked into.

Keeping his mind on business, however, won't be easy after an insatiable lovely in a tiger skin falls into Tanner's arms, and a mother lode of dangerous drugs falls into his lap. But the biggest, deadliest suprise is the terrorist plot Tanner's tumbling into, and he'll have to think and act quickly to prevent the visiting queen of England from being blown to smithereens.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious novel about Montreal Expo
Evan Tanner never sleeps. Literally. A head wound resulted in a brain injury that makes it unnecessary for him to sleep.

He's someone who's world traveled and not entirely legal in everything he does. Tanner gets involved in conspiracies and spying, but he's also devoted to Minna who he hopes one day to restore to Lithuania's throne.

In this novel they journey to Canada. Here Tanner has to match wits with Canadian border officials and the people running the Cuban exhibit at Montreal's Expo.

It is laugh-out-loud funny and a great read. Wonderful dialogue and a crazy, nutty plot that includes memorable characters. ... Read more

19. When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (1997-07-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380728257
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In the dark days, in a sad and lonely place, ex-cop Matt Scudder is drinking his life away -- and doing "favors" for pay for his ginmill cronies. But when three such assignments flow together in dangerous and disturbing ways, he'll need to change his priorities from boozing to surviving.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best of the Scudder series
I find this the best book in the Matt Scudder series, and one of the best detective novels ever written.In addition to the usual vivid setting, dialogue, and characterization, this book contains one of the most vivid and unpredictable scenes in detective writing.As hard as it must be to write convincing dialogue or develop an interesting background, the hardest feat in writing (judged by how infrequently even the best achieve it) is to create a sense of danger, a sense that anything can happen, including total disaster.Block achieves this here in a big way, when Scudder and his crew decide the time has come to take action.An unforgettable reading experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Nail On The Head
"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" is one of my favorite books ever.The way Block looks back and remembers things and doesn't remember things and the kind of perspective he puts all of it in is very close to home.It is one of those rare things in a book that really makes you feel like you have a kinship with the author.Lots of us have lived through not just a few booze soaked years.And sometimes it is natural to have, if not fond memories of these crazy times, then at least not a fatalistic view of them either.It is hard to say why some books are so important to some people, this is one of those.
Had this not been the first book of this series that I read, I probably wouldn't have read any more of it.That's not to say that the other books in this series aren't good, but this was certainly the right one to get your attention.Speaking of the series, this book could easily have been a cliche, since it is the transition between drunkenness and then muddle and then sobreity.It seems like most series have to have that one book that is a device to introduce different moods or relationships for the character.The way it was done here was taking the alcoholic side of it to a new level.It seemed like a brief moment of clarity that some alcoholics have years down the road.When something that happened back then all of a sudden comes back into your conciousness and it is clearly remembered and considered as it just happened a few days ago.Sometimes these moments are the greatest thing in the world, even if they are about something which is all to forgettable.What a book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Oh that wonderful sleaze!
This is the first time that I've read a Matthew Scudder novel, and I must say that I enjoyed it.Matt Scudder is one of the most human hard-bitten detectives that I've ever come across.And Block does not shy away from hard and dismal topics.This book is about drinking friendships.He points out throughout the book that people really don't know the people that they drink with.It is also about betrayal, greed and it even has a cold-blooded killer.Block really knows his city, and that comes across in these pages.It reminded me of "The Maltese Falcon".Block knows New York and its people in this setting (which is 1970's New York) like Hammett knew 1920's San Franscisco.This is high praise indeed because The Maltese Falcon is such a perfect detective story.This one measures up just as well.I will have to read more of Matt Scudder, I think.

4-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Scudder novels
In my opinion the best of this series.Block at times is a formulaic machine, almost a hack.Not in this book however.There is nuance and real texture, pretty close to literature if you will.Block nails the NYC of the early 70's, the corruption, the IRA "lads" running about, a true sense of danger that could flare from the most mundane source.This is "Hell's Kitchen" pre gentrification.Well worth the time and effort.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scudder is the greatest crime protagonist out there
I am writing this because I was looking to see what others were saying about my favorite mystery/crime character. The latest few reviews were pretty hard on Block and I just want to put a few things straight.

First of all, Block is a very hit or miss author. He has written dozens of books and maybe only 25% of them are Scudder novels. He has written just as many 'Burglar' books that are more akin to Agatha Christy than Dashiel Hammett, and I am not their biggest fan. Besides that, Block has written countless short stories and started a few other series' that are in comparison to Scudder, uninspired.

What Block has done here is not write just one book and then continue to revise the same plot over and over as so many mystery writers do. Instead, as a reader you should start at the beginning of this series 'Sins of our Fathers' where you will find a Matthew Scudder, moderately in control of his alcoholism. This is not the best Block, but it is pretty important to follow the development of this amazing character from one book to the next.

By the time you come to 'Ginmill,' '8 Million Ways to Die,' or others further along in the series, you will have found yourself keenly aware of the small developments of Matthew Scudder as a character. 'Ginmill' is a key Scudder novel in that it marks a transitional point that opens up new horizons in coming books and acts as a bridge in many ways. If you have not read the preceding books, and don't wait to judge 'Ginmill' until reading a few more, this will not be apparent.

Secondly, 'Ginmill,' like all of the Scudder novels, is not earth shattering. After you have read hundreds of thrillers where the earth hangs in the balance every time, it is refreshing to pick up a Scudder book that is all about smaller mundane everyday occurrences. These pages are all the more satisfying due to the fact that Block is using this book to really explore a character that he has already spent a great deal of time and energy with.

I would highly recommend this series as a whole, it is one of two that really follow a primary character through a lifetimes worth of changes. The other that I am keenly thinking of as I write this would be by John Fante, and I would even recommend his work over Blocks (high praise). If you have read most of Block's work and would like to find another author who treats a character this way, start with Fante's 'Arturo Bandini' books (Fante's alter ego) and then pick up the rest of them. They all fit nicely together portraying a life from infancy to senility.
... Read more

20. The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (1991-09-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 038076363X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The pretty young prostitute is dead. Her alleged murderer -- a minister's son -- hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's fatherhas come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Matt Scudder's Debut
This short novel introduces Matt Scudder, a former cop who's now working as an unlicensed private investigator. Scudder's a mess. He's an alcoholic with women issues. In this one he investigates the murder of a young woman. Scudder untangles a messy web, but the plot is not terribly convincing. Still, Block's writing style is, as always, admirable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Watch out for printing error in this edition.
There isn't a lot I can add to other customer reviews of this novel.It's not Block at his best, but enjoyable enough--although if you haven't figured out the 'surprise' finish by the end of chapter seven you're not paying attention!

My main reason for posting is to draw attention to a major printing error in the mass-market paperback edition.Page 258, smack in the middle of chapter sixteen, is completely blank in my copy (it would happen right at the climax!).So be sure to check your copy for this defect as soon as you receive it.

4-0 out of 5 stars But the Title gives the Solution away ! !
Enjoyable tale,well told.But Dear Publishers,CHANGE THE TITLE ! !

4-0 out of 5 stars Lighting a Candle for Block's PI, Matt Scudder: The First Book
One of the best things about what I seem to be doing (reading a lot of crime novels in an attempt to determine where my books are going to be placed within the wider pantheon of crime literature) is that there is just so much out there. Some of these writers, like Block, are so big, they transcend the genre. That is, I knew the name "Lawrence Block" before I even picked up the very first Hard Case Crime story ever published, Block's Grifter's Game. Since then, I have learned that Block is most famous for two creations, Bernie Rhodenbarr (AKA "The Bulgar") and the Matt Scudder novels. Being a stickler for reading these series characters from the beginning, I recently found the first books from each of these series. Don't know why but I read Scudder first.

We meet Scudder, where else, in a bar, sitting opposite a client. Scudder is not a licensed PI; instead, he does 'favors' for people. And, in the best tradition of old-school PI novels, Block gets right to the point. A bereaved father wants Scudder to learn about and report on the last days of his daughter's life. Specifically, he blames himself for not reaching out to her and he wants to know if what the papers have printed about her--that she's a prostitute--are true. Scudder agrees and takes the man's money.

The first thing that jarred me about this character--and immediately gave him depth--was that Scudder tithed 10% of his fee. Crime fiction that I am familiar with tends to be somewhat secular. I know there are PI series out there with priests and whatnot; I just haven't read them. And for a PI, down on his luck, divorced, with two boys he seems not to know what to do with, semi-alcoholic, who lives in a hotel, to give up 10% of his hard-earned cash is something remarkable. And he does it more than once. It's one of the neatest aspects of Scudder, that he knows there is a God and that he, Scudder, strayed though he is, is one of the sheep.

On the cover of nearly every copy of a Block book, invariably, there is a quote about Block's prose. I got the one from Martin Cruz Smith who considers Block to be a direct descendant of James M. Cain and Dashiell Hammett. I haven't read Cain yet...but he's dead on with the Hammett reference. Block uses nice and tidy prose. There is no fat. My copy of the novel is 186 pages and seventeen chapters. But, considering Chapter 17 is only three pages long, Block tells his entire story in sixteen chapters and 183 pages. My current novel is on chapter 18 and I'm on page 125. Boy, do I envy Block's writing. To cite the last sentence of the Martin Cruz Smith quote, "He's that good."

Again, not knowing anything about Scudder, the second jarring thing he did came after this sentence: "I went back to Armstrong's, but it was the wrong place for the mood I was in." There had not been hardly any violence in the novel up to that point (p. 127) and I honestly didn't see what was coming. It jarred me. In fact, I put a sticky note on that page so I could quickly return to that place in the book. I expected it to be important and it was. Going back to the tithing aspect of his character, I couldn't help but see an angelic--not the good kind--coming out in Scudder's actions.

In my ongoing education in crime literature to date, I have met a lot of one-time characters: Angel Dare, Swede Nelson, Joe Hope, Cay Morgan, Jack Stang. Even Nick and Nora Charles, in literature, are one-time characters. Matt Scudder is the first ongoing character to whom I have been introduced. I want to taste a lot of different writers before I settle down and plow through an entire series. It is going to take a act of will not to buy the second book in the Scudder series tomorrow. He is intriguing. He is deep. He is, to appropriate the above quote and apply it to Scudder, that good.(excerpted from scottdparker.blogspot.com)

4-0 out of 5 stars The First Matt Scudder Mystery
I had read several of Lawrence Block's books and found the writing to be excellent, so I looked forward to reading the first (copyright 1976) of the Matt Scudder series. I was not disappointed. In Scudder, Block gives us a worn, lonely man, retired from the New York City police force, and finding consolation in alcohol. Gritty describes the man and the streets of New York that he haunts. Scudder picks up money doing investigative work, and this is the kernel of the story. Cale Hanniford hires Scudder to find why his daughter was murdered by the man that shared her apartment, a man that then hanged himself in his jail cell. As Scudder systematically peels away layer after layer of mystery surrounding the murder, we find that the crime was completely different from the initial picture. The slow, deliberate work of Scudder has a realistic feel that you don't get in many mysteries. Block is also a master at describing the streets and bars and characters in New York. The story should keep you fascinated to the end. ... Read more

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