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21. The Devil Knows You're Dead
22. Step by Step: A Pedestrian Memoir
23. The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie
24. A Dance At The Slaughterhouse:
25. Everybody Dies (Matthew Scudder
26. The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams
27. All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew
28. Out on the Cutting Edge: A Matthew
29. Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime)
30. Killing Castro (Hard Case Crime)
31. Hope to Die (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
32. A Walk Among the Tombstones (A
33. A Diet of Treacle (Hard Case Crime)
34. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit:
35. Random Walk
36. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian
37. A Stab in the Dark (Matthew Scudder
38. The Girl With the Long Green Heart
39. Two For Tanner
40. The Burglar in the Closet (Bernie

21. The Devil Knows You're Dead
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 337 Pages (1994-10-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 038072023X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A deranged derelict, a crazed Vietnam vet, has been arrested for gunning down successful young lawyer Glenn Holtzmann at a corner phone booth on Eleventh Avenue -- and the suspect's brother wants p.i. Matthew Scudder to prove the madman innocent. But Scudder's curiosity and dedication are leading him to dark, unexplored places in his own heart...and to passions and secrets that could destroy everything be loves.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Lawrence Block Book
THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is the eleventh entry in Lawrence Block's excellent Matthew Scudder series. In this case, Matt is asked to investigate the murder of a young attorney, Glenn Holtzmann. The case appears to be open and shut: Holtzmann was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and was shot and killed by a mentally unbalanced street person. But the brother of the man the police have arrested asks Scudder to look into the case, and Matt discovers that, while the police have apparently arrested the right man, the victim was a man of many unexplained secrets. Once captured by the case, Scudder will not give it up until he has unraveled all of those secrets.

The mystery itself is fine, but what I love about this book is that it comes at a very important point in Matthew Scudder's life, probably the most significant since the closing pages of EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE. The times are changing, and so are the people that surround Matt. Scudder is personally conflicted in a variety of ways that will resonate deeply with a lot of readers. And the way he reacts to those changes and conflicts is what makes him one of the most intriguing characters ever to inhabit the pages of crime fiction.

2-0 out of 5 stars a Scudder disappointment
Not all of the Matthew Scudder crime novels are equal.This is one
is the least of the series.
Matt may attend many AA meetings and have been able to stay sober, but he is basically a dry drunk.He does not work or live a good program.As we move through the pages we lose respect
for our detective friend.Block seems to lose the thread of this
story, as we wander through Scudder's relationships with his
array of offbeat characters.They are interesting in themselves,
but lend little to the storyline.Block decides he must finish this
book somehow and gives us such a lame ending.I wanted to
have a deeper understanding of Holtzmann's nefarious dealings. After trailing
this man for so many pages only to have him shot as a mistaken
identity.Oh please.I have a few more to read in this series, I hope
the last few are better than this, they would almost have to be.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gritty writing, but not much drama for a Scudder
Let me preface by saying I'm a huge Scudder fan, so the three star rating is compared to the entirety of the Scudder saga.In this entry, the clean and ostensibly happily domesticated Scudder is hired by a vagrant's brother to clear the vagrant of a shooting.The victim happens to be a distant acquaintance of Scudder's, and though Matt didn't like the guy much, he ends up having a desultory kind of affair with his widow.Meanwhile the accused killer is himself killed in prison, leaving a stubborn Scudder to attack the closed case (or as his cop friend puts it, "trying to give a dead horse mouth-to-mouth resuscitation" --- love that noir dialogue).This is only an average Scudder entry, which means that it's a bleak look at a seedy world, rife with witty dialogue and sharp insights into AA philosophy.Probably because the case here is so cold, however, a lot of drama in the sense of personal danger or action is lacking.There's much of the traditional amoral, detatched soul-searching, which is terrific, but none of the rough justice Scudder usually hands out.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Book (But An Average Mystery)!
The Devil Knows You're Dead is a very well written book that held my interest throughout -- however, I have been a big fan of this series from the beginning. Mystery fans who are looking for lots of action and suspense may want to skip this book. Relative to several of the other books in this series, there is considerably less physical violence and more --much more-- of a concentration on the emotional havoc and angst that Matthew Scudder is experiencing as he makes his way through his topsy-turvy world. The cases Scudder is working on in The Devil Knows You're Dead are interesting but they are not exciting and action-based. So, if this is what you're looking for in a mystery you probably should choose another book. If you enjoy great character development, interesting and likable secondary characers, vivid and accurate descriptions of the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton section of NYC, then treat yourself to this very good book. Keep in mind it's not the best book in this series but it's one I think you'll enjoy. However, I would strongly recommend that if you haven't read any of the books in this series, you first read at least one or two of the earlier books (e.g., When The Scared Ginmill Closes, A Ticket To The Boneyard, A Dance At The Slaughterhouse, A Walk Among The Tombstones, etc.) before reading The Devil Knows You're Dead. These books will familiarize you what the world of Matthew Scudder has been like. This book serves pretty much as a vehicle to further evolve the main character of Matthew Scudder and to let you know where he's moving to in his life.

2-0 out of 5 stars B-O-R-I-N-G
I did not chose this book, it was required for a writer's workshop.When I sit down to read a detective novel I expect it to be about detecting.In The Devil Knows Your're Dead I was not the least bit interested in the personal issues / problems of the main character of this novel.The murder happens on page 17 of 316 and there is absolutely zero progress on solving the crime until about 231 pages into it.The intervening pages are mired in musings about alcoholism, transexuals, the morality of suicide, yada, yada, yada.B-o-r-i-n-g.I guess there is a market for this type of mystery (...) but give me Christie, Stout or Sayers and I'm happy.You can keep Block all to yourself. ... Read more

22. Step by Step: A Pedestrian Memoir
by Lawrence Block
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2009-06-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$5.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003D7JTTU
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

From the revered New York Times bestselling author comes a touching, insightful, and humorous memoir of an unlikely racewalker and world traveler

Before Lawrence Block was the author of bestselling novels featuring unforgettable characters such as the hit man Keller, private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and time traveler Evan Tanner, he was a walker.

As a child, he walked home from school (mostly because he couldn't ride a bike). As a col-lege student, he walked until he was able to buy his first car (a deep blue 1950 Chevrolet coupe named Pamela, after the Samuel Richardson novel). As an adult, he ran marathons until he discovered what would become a lifelong obsession—never mind if some people didn't think it was a real sport—racewalking.

By that time Block had already spent plenty of time walking through the city of New York. But racewalking ended up taking him all over the country, from New Orleans to Anchorage, from marathons in the punishing heat to marathons in the pouring rain. And along the way, as he began to pen the books that would make him a household name among suspense fans all over the world, he found that in life, as in writing, you just need to take one step after the other.

Through the lens of his adventures while walking—in twenty-four-hour races, on a pilgrimage through Spain, and just about everywhere you can imagine—Lawrence Block shares his heartwarming personal story about life's trials and tribulations, discomforts and successes, which truly lets readers walk a mile in the master of mystery's shoes.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Ya''ll should have a 6 for this book
Not only do I love this author, I got the book quickly and in great condition.I would buy from this seller again.

3-0 out of 5 stars Too much walking, not enough Block
Agree with the reviewer who said "well, this certainly isn't Bernie Rhodenbarr..." Not nearly as enjoyable as his fiction, but, if you admire Block intensely, as I do, must reading.

2-0 out of 5 stars Hasn't diminished his star
Lawrence Block is one of my top five favorite authors.So, naturally when I discovered this book, I had to read it.Not a mystery, for which he is noted and aclaimed, this is his memoir of his life as a race/long distance walker.If his intent was to transmit the boredom and endless repetition of long distance walking, he hit the bullseye.The book goes on and on from one tedius race to another.The only relief comes in his brief flashes of biting humor.I kept reading because of the humor, and because I was waiting for a payoff: an injury or an epiphany that ends his obsession. Neither comes.The book just stops.But, not to fear.Block still is one of my fav five.Hey, even Babe Ruth struck out once in a while.

1-0 out of 5 stars Speed is good for a runner, but not an author
I'm not a mystery reader, so I know nothing of this author's other books. But I do love a good memoir. This is not one of them. The publisher should have known better than to subtitle it so aptly as a pedestrian memoir.

If you are a marathon runner, or a racewalker, or simply an avid urban pedestrian, you might enjoy parts of this book. For me, the long stories of which race to enter, how the race went, and what the author's feet looked like after, were just plain boring.

I thought I might be interested in his Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, but he breezes through that without much reflection. Similarly, his journey across America to every town by the name of Buffalo yielded nothing of note. All in all, there wasn't a story in this book that grabbed my attention, except for the one in his introduction about conspiring with his poker buddies to co-write a book in one night.

I should have realized from that story that this author is all about speed. He pounds out his books in a matter of weeks, if that, so it's no surprise that this book reads as though it were written on a lark. Seemingly nothing is edited or rewritten. Every page contains "oh, well," "never mind," "yeah, right," and similar markers of lazy thinking and writing. In fact, the author apparently prides himself on refusing to rewrite for editors who want a more polished piece, including the New York Times and his own publisher, William Morrow. I guess if you're a best-selling mystery writer, you get to do that.

The author admits early on that "this book is self-indulgent." That it is. Most authors who write for that purpose have to resort to self-publishing. This author is lucky he has a track record to fall back on, or this book would have had the same fate.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ho hum, mediocre memoir
First off, I did not finish the book.Made it to about page 175 of an over 300 page book.Sorry to say but I could just not continue.There are some interesting and funny points but mostly it's just Block's recitation of all the places he's either race-walked or run, including his times.In a memoir, I'd like to see some introspection or self-revelation or insight, which should be available to the author, particularly from hindsight.There is almost none of this here, and what there is is shallow and banal.There are a couple of funny moments here and there.At one point Block began a journey into his inner world of writing but stopped abruptly.

This is also a travel memoir because it covers his races all over the US and the world, and includes an account of his walk with his wife on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.Yet, there is little to be offered about the different sites or the people other than what you might hear from your own uncle's vacation (without the photos).It's like Community Webshots in text.Block's accounts border on the Ugly American tourist stereotype.

Since I did not finish the book, I am giving it four stars instead of three, on the small possibility that the book improved in the second half.I'll let someone else find out.
... Read more

23. The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2007-08-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060872896
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Gulliver Fairborn's novel, Nobody's Baby, changed Bernie Rhodenbarr's life. And now pretty Alice Cottrell, Fairborn's one-time paramour, wants the bookselling, book-loving burglar to break into a room in New York's teeth-achingly charming Paddington Hotel and purloin some of the writer's very personal letters before an unscrupulous agent can sell them. Here's an opportunity to use his unique talents in the service of the revered, famously reclusive author. But when Bernie gets there, the agent is dead . . . and Bernie's wanted for murder. (He really hates when that happens!)

Perhaps it's karmic payback; Bernie did help himself to a ruby necklace on his way out. (But it was lying there. And he is a burglar.) Now he's in even hotter water. And he'll need to use every trick in the book—maybe going so far as to entice the hermitic Fairborn himself out of seclusion—to bring this increasingly twisted plot to a satisfying denouement.

Amazon.com Review
Lawrence Block is such a gifted writer that even a native NewYorker will be fooled into thinking that the Paddington Hotel,described in the opening pages of Burglar in the Rye, is a realinstitution. Block's descriptions of this enclave of artists, writers,and rock musicians is thoroughly convincing--although in actuality,the Paddington is a combination of the real-life Chelsea Hotel andBlock's outrageous imagination.

This is Bernie Rhodenbarr's ninthheist. Bernie is a gentleman burglar who runs a used bookstore inbetween criminal acts, steals mostly from the rich, and only hurtspeople when it becomes absolutely necessary.

The Paddingtonis where Bernie goes to liberate the letters of a reclusive writernamed Gulliver Fairborn from a literary agent. Fairborn's resemblanceto J.D. Salinger and, of course, the fact that the woman who hiredBernie to steal the letters had an affair with Fairborn when she was ateenager, no doubt lend the book its title. But by the time Berniegets to the Paddington, the agent has been shot, the letters alreadyliberated--and a cop in the lobby recognizes our favorite burglar froma previous encounter.

Now all Bernie has to do is find out whoelse wanted those letters badly enough to kill for them. In typicalRhodenbarr tradition, the plot is less interesting than thetrappings: the books Bernie reads, the fascinating objects he picks upalong the way. The reader also learns about some mind-expanding facts,such as the existence of a tiny South American fish that swims up a man'surine stream and lodges in his private parts! Or did Block make thatup, too?

Other Bernie picks include: The Burglar in theCloset, The Burglarin the Library, TheBurglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, and The Burglar Who StudiedSpinoza. --Dick Adler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Amusing
This is the first Lawrence Block book I have read and I was thoroughly pleased. I found the characters charming and very entertaining and the plot twists literally made me sit there staring at the pages going, "ouch!" but I believe that's a good thing.

I just adore the fact it's a whodunit as well as being satirical and often pun driven. I literally laughed out loud at some points. It is an enjoyable quick read for anyone with a little free time here and there. I would suggest it to anyone with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Nice Read, but not his best Burglar
While Lawrence Block's Burglar series is a bit formulaic (some of the scenes are virtual repeats, at times), his characters are simply a riot.The plot is probably not the best part of these books--the characters and dialog are.So, if you are looking for a hard boiled or serious mystery, read Block's Scudder series or an Agatha Christie.While there is fun in this book and a great quote for my collection: "Do you prefer women?To almost anything" on page 54), this is not, IMHO, his best Burglar/Rhodenbarr book.Try "The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams" or a few others.Still, I'd recommend reading them all as light entertainment, similar to Block's Tanner series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bernie Bearly Breaks into Burglary
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 nonessential valuables from rich people. 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. As the series develops, Bernie has a chance to show that he has "ethics" that he follows.Very nice!

So much for explaining the concept of the series. The Burglar in the Rye is the ninth 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, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart and The Burglar in the Library. 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. Despite that admonition, 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. This is the last book in the series as of now.

The series, always comical and satirical, continues the new turn begun 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 fan of The Purloined Letter will appreciate the many references to it.The Purloined Letter has been a favorite mystery short story of mine since I was a boy along with The Red-Headed League, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's deft display of the power of misdirection.Lawrence Block does a fine turn here in showing new ways to redirect attention in this entertaining literary thriller.

So what's it all about?The story is loosely based on the background of one J.D. Salinger, reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye.Here, he's called Gulliver (Gully) Fairborn, and his former agent is planning to sell some of his letters, and destroy Fairborn's privacy.A beautiful woman, Alice Cottrell, asks Bernie to retrieve the letters, and Bernie becomes a hotel guest in the Paddington Hotel (themed to Paddington the bear) to give himself an inside edge.The entry into literary agent Anthea Landau's suite goes well, except Bernie finds her dead there.Right behind him are the police, and Bernie's on the run.While escaping, he manages to pick up an interesting item but soon finds himself under suspicion for the murder.Coincidences begin to pile up, and Bernie breaks and enters his way into our hearts with an outlandish scheme to remedy all the wrongs and bring the killer to justice.The resolution has great literary panache of the sort that will leave you chuckling for some time.

Some of the funniest parts of this book are the on-going references to rye. Bernie starts drinking rye rather than Perrier (when he's planning to do a heist) or Scotch (when he's kicking back).He explains how rye bread is made.He reviews folk songs that mention rye.Pretty soon, lots of others are drinking rye too and discussing its merits.Bernie just can't seem to get away from rye!Does that make him a catcher?

The theme of this book focuses on the importance of (and challenges involved in) maintaining privacy.Remember:It's not just celebrities who have this problem!

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

5-0 out of 5 stars Salute Mr Block - You've done it!
Kudos to Lawrence Block for creating a witty series in the burglar mysteries, and a special kudo for this entry -- the best of the bunch (so far).The characters are appealing, the dialog is pithy, and the plot is intriguing.As usual, burglary is mixed in with murder, and our hero must find the killer to clear his own name.I loved the way Bernie confronts the suspects in the dramatic scene in the apartment.Such an intellect hasn't seen the pages of fiction since Nero Wolfe.I highly recommend this well written book.I suspect Mr Block would make for a most interesting dinner party.

3-0 out of 5 stars Literary Whodunnit-Cum-Send-up Is Great Fun
When they're well done, books about books, and metafiction, and metacinema, and roman-a-clef writing give me great pleasure. ("Bookworm's Delight," right?)Indeed. This particularBernie Rhodenbarr book--and, I surmise, the series in general--works at two levels, at least: as a rather straightforward genre whodunnit, but one infused with Block's clever writing and--I found--amusing dialogue (with enough lightly-tossed-off literary allusions to satisfy readers attracted by the book's bookish associations), Bernie Rhodenbarr's attractive "honorable thief" persona, the agreeable NY City 12th-and-Broadway book district locale. The Rhodenbarr book is also a gentle send-up of the whole damn genre, which surely needs sending up from time to time. To discuss at length any particular aspect of the fun Block has in doing so would be to deprive readers of their own pleasures of discovery, so I'll say no more.

What I most enjoyed, however--but what other readers have found particularly objectionable--is Block's use of the JD Salinger-Joyce Maynard materials. Sensing a kindred perspective, I for one am wholly with Block here, having read Maynard's original NY Sunday Times Magazine piece, wondering what the editor could have been smoking when s/he decided to print it, and rankled at how it came to pass that someone more than a decade younger than me--Maynard was 14--could be designated by the authoritative NY Times as the voice of MY generation!!! The nerve. Given my 35-year-old peeve, I LOVED the way Block has worked the Salinger-Maynard story and would, moreover, love to believe his insights were authentically based in fact. Alas, we--or at least I--will never know, but it's fund to conjure.

It's easy to recommend The Burglar in the Rye for the beach, for the airplane, or just as an afternoon's entertainment--yes, it is, in Block's larger oeuvre, an "entertainment" in Graham Greene's sense, as opposed to, say, the Matthew Scudder books, which are darker and more probing--a suitable distraction in a difficult time (exactly my purpose in picking it up), filled with sweetness, light, good cheer, and hardly anything--aside from a chaste lesbian romance--that the Legion of Decency would find objectionable. ... Read more

24. A Dance At The Slaughterhouse: A Matthew Scudder Crime Novel
by Lawrence Block
Paperback: 304 Pages (2000-07-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$42.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380813734
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

There is no accolade or major mystery award that has not already been bestowed upon Lawrence Block. His acclaimed crime novels are asintelligent, provocative, and emotionally complex as they are nerve-tighteningly intense. And perhaps the most respected of his myriad works are the Matthew Scudder books -- masterworks of suspenseful invention featuring a remarkable protagonist rich in conscience and character, with all the flaws that his humanity entails. This is the detective novel as high art.

A Dance At The Slaughterhouse

In Matt Scudder's mind, money, power, and position elevate nobody above morality and the law. Now the ex-cop and unlicensed p.i. has been hired to prove that socialite Richard Thurman orchestrated the brutal murder of his beautiful, pregnant wife. During Scudder's hard drinking years, he left a piece of his soul on every seedy corner of the Big Apple. But this case is more depraved and more potentially devastating than anything he experienced while floundering in the urban depths. Because this investigation is leading Scudder on a frightening grand tour of New York's sex-for-sale underworld -- where an innocent young life is simply a commodity to be bought and perverted ... and then destroyed.

Amazon.com Review
Matt Scudder, the recovering alcoholic private eye from The Devil Knows You're Dead andA Ticket to the Boneyard,embarks on another descent into the nightmarish quarters of New York, thistime to investigate the sex-for-sale industry. Hired by the brother of anheiress to investigate her rape and murder, Scudder tails her husband to aboxing match and notices another man whom he saw on video a few monthsearlier on a different case involving a snuff film. As Scudder calls on oldfriends for assistance and tours New York's dark physical and sociallandscapes, Block masterfully builds the pressure that leads Scudder to theviolent resolution in this winner of the 1992 Edgar Award for best mysterynovel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars Amazing that everyone likes this
This book is not easy reading. But what amazes me is that nearly everyone thinks this is just'another' mystery, even though a hard-boiled one due to some excess violence. Also, most people highlight the interesting, and in many respects sympathetic, main character, Matt Scudder. All right, I like Matt Scudder fine, even though this is rather infantile (most mystery writes nowadays try to create characters readers are inclined to like, so as to become curious what will become of their 'heroes' in the next novel; see commissario Brunetti in Donna Leon's books, see ... well there are plenty, I don't have to enumerate them all). The plot, however, is not the best mystery plot conceivable; Matt Scudder has a hunch, the hunch turns out true (and to be a nightmare), he walks round a bit in the city gathering information, gets the information, and goes on...).

But this book is outright obscene. By this I do NOT refer to the considerable amount of violence, most of it sexualized (and some of it more than is necessary to make the point). Rather, what I find obscene is, first, that Scudder takes the law into his own hands and has no doubts about it; he kills one person (a 'very bad' person, it is true) in a situation where there is not the slightest necessity, and he admits that he simply wanted to kill her. Second, after that, he attends a church service and receives communion.

Strange that you folks over there (I am German) seem to take this for granted. I don't want to say that this 'must not happen' in a book. But the least it should do is to make readers wonder. This seems not be the case. Strange.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Dance at the Slaughterhouse
This one of a collection of the Matthew Scudder series written by Lawrence Block and as with all his writings it is of a high standard. It is one of those books that you don't want to put down. Block writes a believable and honest story line that is easy to follow but with a few suble turns just to keep you guessing. Look forward to finishing the Matthew Scudder series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Good Addition to the Scudder Series
If you're a hard-boiled mystery buff, you can't go wrong by picking up any of the Scudder series by Lawrence Block.This book finds Matt Scudder still sober and attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).In his spare time he's trying to prove that an accident was actually a murder.While he's not doing that, he's looking for a couple that made a child-porn snuff film.

I highly recommend this book for all hard-boiled mystery fans.

3-0 out of 5 stars Scudder and a snuff flick
My problem is, after reading When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes, all other Matthew Scudder novels, pale in comparison.This is a good novel, but not great.I have read about 5 of his books now and this is a good read.An insight into his relationship with his father.I am not big on endings with a hail of gunfire, but it was done better than most.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good novel based on the element of pornography
The cable television producer may have orchestrated the rape and death of his wife, so the dead woman's brother hires Scudder to prove him guilty.A snuff film death holds a major clue that will connect both murders and help Scudder and his girlfriend Elaine solve the cast.
Good read.... ... Read more

25. Everybody Dies (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (1999-11-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380725355
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Matt Scudder is finally leading a comfortable life.The crime rate's down and the stock market's up.Gentrification's prettying-up the old neighborhood.The New York streets don't look so mean anymore.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Scudder quickly discovers the spruced-up sidewalks are as mean as ever, dark and gritty and stained with blood.He's living in a world where the past is a minefield, the present is a war zone, and the future's an open question.It's a world where nothing is certain and nobody's safe, a random universe where no one's survival can be taken for granted.Not even his own.

A world where everybody dies.Amazon.com Review
You would think that by the 14th novel in a series, an author might becomea bit bored with his characters, a bit sloppy in his writing. Thankfully,Lawrence Block is no such writer. Matt Scudder, in his 14thappearance, is as sharp and entertaining as he is in such mysteries asEight Million Ways toDie and A Dance atthe Slaughterhouse. Scudder is one of the few dicks out there witha fully fleshed-out personality; he's not insensitive to the mayhem around him,and his fears are well founded and realistic. After all, as the titleboldly states, we live in a world where everybody dies.

Settled into married life, sober, and finally a legit private eye (thestate granted his license), Scudder is prepared to become a respectablehigh-priced detective working for New York City lawyers. But when his old buddy,Mick Ballou, comes to him because two of his runners end up murdered, Scudderfinds himself sinking back into the muck of the underworld. While dodgingthugs who are out to put a stop to his investigation, Scudder must figure out who has it in for Ballou.

The writing in this novel is elegant--equally supple in describing thegibbous moon as it is in sorting out Scudder's feelings on the murder of aclose friend, or when recounting a rather gory eye plucking. The dialogue issnappy and true to life. Lawrence Block once again proves he's worthy ofthe title Grand Master of Mystery. So be sure to set aside a chunk of timebefore you sit down to read this novel, because you're not going to beable to tear yourself away. --Jenny Brown ... Read more

Customer Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cold, Dark Noir
You'll want to turn up the heat and get under the blanket after this one. It's dark, dark, dark.

Still, I've read lots of Lawrence Block, and this one is one of my favorites. The characters are strong, and the plot is gripping. Yes, it starts a little slow, but there's quite a pay-off at the end.

This one's very memorable and haunting--it will stick with me a long time.

4-0 out of 5 stars A bout with morality
Block's Scudder series is serious business, though his characterizations are phenomenal in all his series.The other two: Burglar/Rhodenbarr and Tanner are much lighter.This particular Scudder continues his psychological explorations of middle-aged, formerly embittered, alcoholic, unofficial detective Matt Scudder.This one has quite a bit of action, as opposed to the last work, "Even the Wicked."A good mystery writer spins a fine tale, but a great mystery writer evolves into a great writer who chooses to write mysteries--evolving the genre into literature.It seems to me that this is Block's objective, conscious or unconscious as the case may be.Certainly his descriptions of Scudder's bout with relative morality is fine work.Many sides of his "hero" (some light, some dark) are variously depicted in this incredible series.Scudder is all too human.Block also coins memorable turns of phrase (some funny), that I add to my quote collection, such as: "I could probably be a vegetarian like Elaine, but only if bacon was declared a vegetable" on page 215.I didn't read the series in order, I think it would be better to do so, since they build on each other, and the characters' growth trend and relationships develop through the series which is chronological.

4-0 out of 5 stars Listening to stories
Matt Scudder walks and Elaine goes to the gym for exercise.Mick Ballou is a notorious criminal and Grogans, in Hell's Kitchen, is his bar and headquarters.Mick is an unlikely friend for a private detective to have.

Matt is faced with the mystery of two deceased persons, formerly of the North of Ireland, and a substantial amount of twice stolen whiskey.Mick believes he has an enemy.Matt Scudder still attends AA meetings.He usually fits in two or three a week.He enjoys listening to the stories.

On Sunday evenings he eats dinner with his sponsor.When he and his sponsor go out to dinner, by coincidence, they are dressed in similar garb.The sponsor becomes another victim while Matt is using the lavatory.Matt knows his sponsor would destroy his guilty thoughts by pointing out that Matt is just an alcoholic.Matt finds himself explaining to the investigating officers the role of a sponsor in the AA program.

Matt is saved from danger by Mick.Gary Alan Dowling is the son of Patrick Farrelly, a man who had operated in opposition toMick Ballou.He may have some involvement in the recent matters of conflict.This is an exceptionally dark tale in the Matt Scudder series.

4-0 out of 5 stars violent, but good book
Lawrence Block's book is violent, and sometimes unintentionally humorous, but interesting.As read by Mr. Forster, whose accent is not bad, but a bit over the top (in places) as it gets more violent at the end. Overall, it is a pretty good introduction to his writing.This is the first book of his I've listened to and have bought the paperback.I will probably look for more of these.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Everybody Died
"Everybody Dies" represents author Lawrence Block's attempt to reintroduce the edge that the great private detective Matthew Scudder lost in the previous novel, "Even the Wicked."In "Wicked," Scudder turned into super-sleuth, solving three high profile cases while never coming remotely close to courting physical danger.The result was the weakest novel of the 14 (and counting) in the series."Everybody Dies" tries to be different.Right off the bat, Scudder is viscously attacked on the street, his AA sponser is killed by a hired gunman who mistakes him for Scudder, and his gangster buddy Mick Ballou's bar is firebombed, which kills a dozen people including Scudder's former mistress.The rest of the novel concerns Scudder and Ballou's search for those responsible in order to take revenge.

All of this sounds exciting, and yet it is curiously rather sterile.In the best Scudder books, the threat is always lurking in the background, including the threat that Scudder might fall off the wagon.Here it seems over the top and not particularly plausible.The leading badguy seems as if he'd be incapable of being organized enough to take on Ballou the way he does and the climatic battle has surprisingly little tension.One problem, I think, is that Scudder has become far too domesticated with his stable marriage and stable life.As a character, he needs to return to the edge.Otherwise his stories will continue to be safe and predictable, rather than daring like the best of the series, no matter how many minor characters Block kills off in the process. ... Read more

26. The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060731443
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bernie Rhodenbarr is actually trying to earn an honest living. It's been an entire year since he's entered anyone's abode illegally to help himself to their valuables. But now an unscrupulous landlord's threat to increase Bernie's rent by 1,000% is driving the bookseller and reformed burglar back to a life of crime -- though, in all fairness, it's a very short trip. And when the cops wrongly accuse him of stealing a priceless collection of baseball cards, Bernie's stuck with a worthless alibi since he was busy burgling a different apartment at the time . . . one that happened to contain a dead body locked inside a bathroom.

So Bernie has a dilemma. He can trade a burglary charge for a murder rap. Or he can shuffle all the cards himself and try to find the joker in the deck -- someone, perhaps, who believes that homicide is the real Great American Pastime.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Involved Plot
While Lawrence Block has never shrunk from complexity, this story takes the cake.

Lawrence wants to be able to solve a "murder in a room locked from the inside" mystery and does so here.But there's more than just the mechanics in play.In this story, he also creates extraordinarily complex relationships and interrelationships for us, and uses Bernie to unravel each of these many complexities with some really tortured machinations.

Don't you just love it?I did...

4-0 out of 5 stars Fast, fun, and breezy
You'd think Bernie Rhodenbarr would know better than to stop for mysterious, attractive young ladies who ask him to perform random burglaries, but that may just be his cross to bear. The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams is deeply enjoyable and endlessly amusing, a hugely pleasant read. Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Everyone knows everyone
Block ranks right up there with other writers who just know how to write (others include Ed McBain and Donald Westlake) .Dialogue and the ability to keep us needing to turn the page are the hallmarks of all of Block's works.Block sets up impossible to figure situations and manages to sort it all out.Be prepared for everything that happens to be somehow interconnected, I don't know how he does it.As Block puts it, "Coincidences are God's way of letting us know He is up there."Warning: try to read in no more than three sittings, you'll never keep it all straight.

5-0 out of 5 stars The mystery is as addictive as Bernie's burgling
Not since Bilbo Baggins has a burglar been this engaging...how do you help the police solve a murder when you were at the scene of the crime committing larceny?And then you tried to trade the frozen Ted Williams.Just kidding.Remember when baseball cards came with bubblegum and mustard?Ah, the joys of Americana.Ah, the fun of a Lawrence Block mystery.A burglar with a bookstore?Hey since authors feel books rob them blind sometimes...speaking of authors, there's an interesting bit going through with Bernie Rhodenbarr's lesbian dog-groomer pal/sleuth Carolyn who thinks that Kinsey Millhone (Su Grafton's brainchild) is a lesbian.And there's a classy hint of lesbian romance in the air with the wife of one of the characters Bernie tangles with.Carolyn remarks, "I figure he'll be an easy act to follow."Block, however, isn't.

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the serise
Take a sarcastic on agian off agian burgler and add one lesoban dog gromer.For good measure also add a halfway honest cop and a cat named Raffels.What you get is a really fun serise of mystery books that will always hold a special place in your heart.

in this particular edition of the serise berny Rosenbar is doing all he can to resist the temtation of breaking and entering.When a new landlord rasies the price of the rent he really doesn't have a chocie, he wants to remian honest but he also wants to keep his store.

What you end up getting in the end is a great book with hilarious charecters.I recommend to all. ... Read more

27. All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2006-03-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061030961
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A man in a Virginia prison awaits execution for three horrific murders he must have committed but swears he didn't . . .

An aging investigator in New York City has seen too much and lost too much -- and is ready to leave the darkness behind . . .

But a nightmare is coming home -- because a brilliant, savage, patient monster has unfinished business in the big city . . . and a hunger that can be satisfied only by fear and the slow, agonizing death of Matthew Scudder and the woman he loves.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (52)

3-0 out of 5 stars Just OK
The serial killer is one of the most twisted I've ever read about, but the plot didn't really pull me in. I did like the way that Matt is just a regular, flawed guy. He's not the kind of detective who pieces together unbelievable intricacies, and he doesn't use brute force to subdue anyone! Unfortunately, it's just not that good of a story. I would probably skip further Scudder books unless people tell me they are way different than this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Much better than Hope to Die
This is a sequel to the horrible Hope To Die, and, fortunately, it's a huge improvement. Instead of using first person, Block tells the serial killer's point of view through third person. I'm not sure why it works so much better, but it does. The plot in All the Flowers are Dying is also much improved. It's a compelling story with lots of tension.

The weakness continues to be the character of the serial killer. First of all, I'm not going to go out of my way to read about serial killers--not my cup of tea. But I don't think Block did a good job of making the character believable. He is totally evil. This makes him one-dimensional and not interesting.

Still, this is a good entry in the Matt Scudder series. I'm glad Block revisited Hope to Die because the sequel is a worthy addition.

4-0 out of 5 stars return of an old fan
Haven't read Block in several years. Was a big fan of Scudder. It's great to see he hasn't lost his edge. Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Arguably his best Matthew Scudder book
I have been hooked on Lawrence Block since the very first book I read.Since then, I think I have read every one of his books.The Matthew Scudder series has been a bit of a hit or miss.Some good and a few fairly bad, especially some of the latter ones.But this one is excellent.Quite possibly his best.

I never read a book's or a movie's review before reading or watching it, because inadvertently people mention something that takes away the suspense.So I'll just end this by saying that the book has twists and is wonderfully dark.

1-0 out of 5 stars Dead flowers
I have read everyone of the Matthew Scudder novels.Trust,
this one is the least of the series. I was very disappointed.
He appears to borrow from James Patterson in giving us a serial
killer and pages and pages of the killers voice.That is one,
two it is boring.All the Flowers are dead and so is Matthew Scudder. ... Read more

28. Out on the Cutting Edge: A Matthew Scudder Crime Novel
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (1990-10-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380709937
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a city that seduces dreamers...then eats their dreams.Matthew Scudder understands the futility of his search for a longtime missing Midwestern innocent who wanted to be an actress in the vast meat-grinder called New York City. But her frantic father heard that Schudder is the best -- and now the ex-cop-turned-p.i. is scouring the hell called Hell's Kitchen looking for anything that might resemble a lead. And in this neighborhood of the lost, he's finding love -- and death -- in the worst possible places.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Addition to the Matt Scudder Series
This is another very good mystery in the Matt Scudder series.I can't help liking Matt and the way his daily struggles with alcoholism are portrayed.I find him touching and heroic.His relationship with AA is poignant as well.He is a man who gives money to AA to make up for his relapses but then tries like hell to get back on the wagon.The characterizations are very good and the mystery keeps the reader turning pages.

3-0 out of 5 stars MOCUS means mixed-up, confused, and uncentered
In NYC there are the Lambs, the Friars, and the Players.Maurice Jenkins-Lloyd, a member of one of the organizations and known to Matt Scudder through their shared fate of alcoholism, died of a ruptured esophagus.At this stage Scudder attends AA and has handed in his police badge and functions as an unlicensed PI.He is looking for Paula Hoeldtke.

Paula is from Muncie, Indiana.She attended Ball State, majoring in theater.The theater was an excuse for her to go to NYC.Unfortunately she has been missing for more than two months and her father has contacted Scudder to try to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Joe Durkin, Scudder's police contact, calls the hospitals for him.It is discovered that Paula moved out of her residence without telling the landlady.It seems that Paula had not held membership in any of the unions or clubs for actors, but by fine-combing the two theater programs featuring her, Scudder develops some leads to pursue in the search.

Paula's last place of employment had been the Druid's Castle, an English-style pub.When a man from AA, Eddie dies, Matt Scudder arranges to meet one of the local tough guys, Mick Ballou.He finds out that Eddie had been friends with Mick's brother Dennis, a victim of the War in Vietnam.

Solving the mystery reveals remarkably sad stories to Scudder as he traces the links between Paula'sand Eddie's disastrous ends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Once Again................BLOWN AWAY
Once again Lawrence Block has managed to blow me away with another fantastic Matt Scudder book. This one is about a guy who is looking for his daughter, who went off to New York to try and find fame. He hires Scudder to find his missing daughter, but the only problem is, there arent many leads. He searches and goes through all the motions and has stumbling blocks in his way, but manages to get around them. I wont tell you the rest, because I dont want to ruin the book for you, but I will just say this. THE ENDING WILL SHOCK YOU!!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Scudder's first sober case
"Out on the Cutting Edge" follows the two best novels in the Matthew Scudder series, "8 Million Ways to Die" and "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes."It is also the first novel in which Scudder conducts a case (in this instance two cases) while not in an alcoholic stupor.We catch up with Scudder a few years after he joined AA.He has a sponser and has managed to recover control of his life.His day to day existence, meanwhile, hasn't changed much.He still lives in a residential hotel and still conducts cases off the books as "favors" for friends.

The two cases are interesting.One is for pay; a family wants to know the whereabouts of their missing daughter.One is personal; an AA companion apparently commits suicide just before he is ready to confess his sins to Scudder.Both take Scuder in some unlikely directions and the payoff is typically messy.Meanwhile, author Lawrence Block introduces one his most interesting side characters to the series, the Irish gangster Mickey Ballou.Overall, this is a solid Scudder novel that is not quite on par with the best of the series.But any Scudder novel makes for excellent reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another top-notch Scudder book.
Matt Scudder is dealing with the day-in, day-out struggle to stay sober in the Big Apple.He has a case he doesn't have much hope of solving and he's got an AA acquaintance who wants Matt to sponsor him.Eddie Dunphy is asmall-time crook, sober for a little over half a year.He has something hereally wants to tell Matt, but before he gets a chance, he's found dead inhis apartment--an apparent suicide.

It's an open and shut case, but Mattis obsessed with finding out whether or not Eddie died sober.Dead isdead, but if he stayed sober he won the war.Of course, he finds out Eddiewas murdered and he also gets a lead on his original case just when he wasready to give up on it.

This book introduces a recurring character in theseries:Mickey Ballou, known as the Butcher Boy.Mickey has a reputation. Folks believe he killed a man and carried the guy's head around in abowling bag for a week, showing it off so people would know not to crosshim.

The characters all grow and change over the course of the book. This is a terrific novel and a nice addition to the Scudder series. ... Read more

29. Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 205 Pages (2004-09-07)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843953497
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From a Noir Master, a Classic Tale of Grift and Greed.

Con man Joe Marlin was used to scoring easy cash off beautiful women. But that was before he met Mona Brassard and found himself facing the most dangerous con of his career, one that will leave him either a killer -- or a corpse.

Presented unabridged on 5 CDs; narrated by Alan Sklar. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pitch black perfection
"We forgot her husband. She did, anyway. I didn't, because he was an important part of the picture. The fat, ugly, old husband, who was also rich. The pretty wife, who wanted more than the old husband was giving her. It was almost standard." (p 25)

These are the ingredients that make up Lawrence Block's excellent noir thriller Grifter's Game. A book that does sound like it is going to be a pretty bog-standard crime novel. The synopsis didn't give me high hopes, yet the book succeeds thanks to Mr. Block's writing and his ability to make you care about the fate of some loathsome characters.

A con man who steals fancy luggage to use as a prop to scam hotels swipes the wrong suitcase. He winds up with a large quantity of heroin and a femme fatale who loves her husband's fortune, but is ambivalent about the man. Plans are made and you know it will all wind up bad, but the fun in this one is watching it go to pot.

Mr. Block managed to write a book without a single likable character that still kept me glued to the pages. The book is a near-perfect example of crime writing. It's hard to believe that this is his third published novel (well, at least the third novel he was willing to accept credit for). The pacing is perfect. All the characters except the first person narrator are two dimensional, but believable anyway and the writing is cynical, dark and lovely.

Our 'hero', Joe Marlin is a completely amoral sociopath. He is never concerned about the harm his actions cause others. He never considers whether his actions are moral. Only about whether it will complicate his life or not.

You will never warm up to Joe (you may even hate him), but you will not be able to give up on finding out if he succeeds in ridding Mona of her unneeded husband. The book rockets along, always managing to stay one step ahead of you with its twists.

The only reason I didn't rate this one a perfect five stars is that the ending is incredibly repulsive, even by the standards of our amoral narrator. To be fair, the ending is in keeping with the black tone of the rest of the book. A softened ending would have felt like a cop-out. Nonetheless, it is incredibly nasty.

I also questioned how such a hardened character could fall for a woman, any woman, so quickly and completely. Though without that angle there wouldn't have been much of a story.

These two minor quibbles do nothing to keep Grifter's Game from being the best crime novel I have yet read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Game Is Simultaneously Outdated, Enduring
Chronological snobbery cuts both ways. Although the term is usually applied to those who dismiss arguments simply because they're old, it could also describe people who eschew new things because they happen to be, well, new. You see this equally in literature as well as logic. There's the one camp endlessly surfing Amazon for new releases, yearning to catch the Next Big Thing right from the get go, while the other sniffs at anything published after, say, the nineteenth century and views the Internet as a not-quite-necessary evil. Such a tendency to judge things based on their age is why books like Grifter's Game (an early effort by crime-writing veteran Lawrence Block) are so important: They're complex enough to force careful evaluation.

Joe Marlin has known a lot of women in his twenty-eight years, with very profitable results. Whether his marks happens to be idealistic young heiresses or needy (and wealthy) widows, Joe always finds a way to kiss them, bilk them and run, often with only the clothes on his back. While fleeing a failed seduction, he picks a bag at random from the luggage at the train station, figuring he can pawn it for a little dough. But among the shoes, slacks and shirts inside, he finds something else -- sixty cubic inches of pure heroin. Dazed by the discovery, Joe retreats to the beach for a little sun and surf, and that's where he meets Mrs. Mona Brassard, a blonde bombshell with a figure so lethal it ought to be registered with the police. One thing leads to another, and soon Joe and Mona are sharing a bed. It's a mutually enjoyable time, but there's one hitch: Mona wants to know why Joe has her husband's suitcase.

Game was originally published in 1961, and even proponents of classic crime stories have to admit that much of it hasn't aged well. References to bellhops, boardwalks and telephone switchboard operators date the novel, and wry jabs at yesterday's innovations fall flat when viewed in the light of the present."The car moved like a retarded child," grouses Joe during a drive. "It was further encumbered with automatic transmission, which keeps you from shifting gears at the proper time, and power steering, which is an invention designed to drive anyone out of his mind." But even with such anachronisms, the novel defies easy dismissal. Why? Well, Game features a conclusion as cold as a knife between the ribs and so black it makes you remember why they call it noir. It wouldn't be exaggerating to call it genre-defining. Indeed, it isn't the antiquated references that stick with you when you reach the final page, but a profound sense of dread and poignancy, one that may very well linger long after the titles on today's bestseller lists have slid into obscurity.

4-0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it, but. . .
I enjoyed about ninety percent of this book. The author has a terrific eye for detail and it was like opening a time capsule from the late fifties/early sixties to read this novel (who knew people hated power steering when it first came out, for instance). The characters were believable and the hero sufficiently hard-boiled for the noir label, and I was absorbed in the story from the first paragraph. But it's the last ten percent of the book that will stay with me. The ending of this book is so appalling, so horrifying, so inhumane, that I'm not sure I will ever forget it. It was almost more than I could stand to finish reading the book. An over-reaction? Maybe. And I can't give the book a bad rating because it is so well-written and the story was very good. But that ending...yeesh!

5-0 out of 5 stars Hard as nails!
Hard core grifter? Check. Gorgeous beauty? Check. Illicit affair? Check? Suitcase full of heroin? Check and checkmate. Another doozy of a novel from Lawrence Block and Hard Case crime. The book grabs you quick and makes for an easy cover-to-cover read. The characters and twists and turns make these pages perfect for a lazy day by the pool, or the corner of your local dive bar. Loved it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Worth the Expense but Needs Formatting
This was a decent enough hard boiled crime drama and worth the low price, but it was fairly predictable and the formatting was off on my Kindle DX. Single and double quotes looked like weird circle type thingies and what I think were meant to be dashes were off as well. ... Read more

30. Killing Castro (Hard Case Crime)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 204 Pages (2008-12-30)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843961139
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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First published under a pen name in 1961, this early thriller by MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block tells of five Americans dispatched to Cuba with a deadly assignment---the assassination of Fidel Castro.Here's what a reviewer had to say on Amazon's site:

Hard Case Crime has done it again, bringing us a 1961 pseudonymous thriller from Lawrence Block. Killing Castro focuses on one member of a ragtag ensemble cast who have accepted a commission to kill Fidel Castro. They begin in Tampa, make their separate ways to Havana and . . . well . . . don't think that later history guarantees that Fidel will make it through the final reel.

The narrative is taut, the language pulpy, the plotting perfect. Drenched in booze, cigarette and cigar smoke, beans and rice and sex, the story moves to its satisfying conclusion. Along the way there are interspersed accounts of Fidel's rise to and abuse of power. And give Block special points for his knowledge of Cuba in general, Havana in particular.

The book underscores Block's persistent and longstanding talent for this sort of writing. He does it now and he could do it then. And no, hitman Turner in this book is not the prototype for Block's current hitman, John Keller. He's his own man and he's got some dangerous partners. Fidel, watch your back. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Back in Print Block thriller
Most Hard Case Crime titles are quick reads, and this one is no exception. The most interesting aspect of the book is its history: written by Block under a psuedonym he never used again (the cover text doesn't tell us what that name was, and I'm too lazy to go find out right now), and out of print for close to 50 years. The book was written after Castro came to power but a year before the Cuban Missle Crisis. Block alternates the fictional story of 5 average Americans hired to sneak into Cuba and kill Castro with chapters that are essentially non-fiction outlining Castro's life and rise to power.

The writing starts out a little rough -- Block seems to have problems with switching between different characters' point of view in the first chapter especially (the jump from Turner's point of view to Fenton's is particularly jarring). Once the characters get to Cuba and are split up, it becomes easier for Block to move between them and even, once, move into the POV of a supporting character.

None of the characters are especially likable, and the female characters (all supporting) fill the roles required of them (emotionally injured victim, nurturing matron, sexpot) without being given any added depth. This is a fine 1960s thriller, plenty of gunplay and intrigue. The ending is a bit of a let-down but really -- you sorta know from the get-go that they're not going to succeed. It's like watching a movie about the Titanic; you can't complain when the ship hits the iceberg and sinks.

Kudos to Hard Case from bringing another out of print book back into print.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great noir thriller from Block
I love much of Block's writing, and this is among the best of his I've read. It's gritty, pulpy, incredibly violent and amazingly hard-boiled. Fast read, vivid images, compelling characters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Castro Books
"Killing Castro" is a good, timely read especially for Lawrence Block devotees.It can't be too long now before Fidel succombs to the ultimate.A good campanion read to compare and contrast the Castro era is "The Castro Gene" by Todd Buchholz.
The Castro Gene

4-0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Block's Rarest Thriller - An Entertaining Read!
From the moment Fidel Castro made the choice to wage war against the dictatorial government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista and to begin the Cuban Revolution, his life was in constant jeopardy. There were the perils of guerrilla warfare in the Sierra Maestra mountains, post revolution dangers from those he deposed, civilian and military, Cuban and US, plantation owners and crime bosses, who so profited under Batista. Then there were the numerous CIA attempts to kill Castro with poison pills, toxic cigars and exploding mollusks. Rumor has it that the dictator once even volunteered to kill himself. He was joking, of course. For nearly half a century, the CIA, Cuban exiles, and heaven knows who else, have been trying to devise ways to assassinate el Presidente.

However, Lawrence Block did not know this when he wrote "Killing Castro." The book was originally published by Monarch in 1961 as "Fidel Castro Assassinated." Block used the pseudonym Lee Duncan, a moniker adopted for this novel alone.

"Killing Castro" is as much about the journeys, literal and figurative, of five men, as it is about an assassination. Five Americans are offered twenty thousand dollars apiece to kill Castro. That was really a lot of money back in 1961. The loot is to be collected after the fact. Every one of the five has different reasons for slipping into Cuba and risking his life to kill a man relatively unknown to them, except for the media, stories from Cuban exiles, and government statements. It is, after all, only 1961, two years into the revolution and shortly before the Cuban missile crisis. Each man's journey, his motivations and outcome, are what is really exciting and unexpected here. All of these characters are changed by this deadly adventure.

Then one wonders who or what entity is behind the operation? Impoverished Cuban refugees could hardly have scraped together one hundred thousand dollars. So, "who was financing the assassination? Tobacco and sugar planters? Oil refiners? Batista fascists hungry to regain power? Americans unwilling to tolerate a Communist nation ninety miles offshore?"

Interspersed between the narrative are italicized chapters which provide a historical perspective on Castro and the reasons he became involved in the politics of revolution. The history of the man, his years as a student and young revolutionary, are absolutely fascinating - especially as the changes which occur in him are contrasted with those which take place in his prospective killers. However, there are occasions when the author, through thevoice of the omniscient observer, makes certain points and allegations which are way too subjective for omniscience, and border on editorializing. I think Block would have been more credible had he used one of his characters to express these personal political views.

I really enjoyed "Killing Castro," and although it is far from the author's best work, it certainly makes for an entertaining read.

Kudos to Hard Case Crime for making this most rare of Lawrence Block's thrillers available.
Jana Perskie

5-0 out of 5 stars Recovered treasure
I haven't spent a lot of time in the Hard Case Crime series, checking in just for Stephen King's debut, The Colorado Kid (Hard Case Crime) and then not returning again until I found "Killing Castro" quite by accident.

The phrase "Killing Castro" represents a fairly common theme in early 1960s genre fiction.Who didn't want Castro gone back then, even before the Cuban Missile Crisis?The final James Bond novel, The Man With The Golden Gun (James Bond Novels), features Fidel as an off-screen bad guy, and Ian Fleming states through his characters that he feels Fidel's days are numbered.Even Rod Serling cast Peter Falk to play an undisguised version of Castro in "The Mirror", an episode fromThe Twilight Zone: Season 3 (The Definitive Edition).

What Lawrence Block does in "Killing Castro" is to take the cliche -- a brutal dictator must be paid in his own coin -- and turn it on its head in a way that Serling and Fleming didn't.A shadowy Cuban syndicate hires five Americans and sends them to the island in three assassination squads.If any one man succeeds in executing the target, each man gets $20,000.While the set-up is lean and familiar, what Block does with it is, not to engage in hyperbole, an extraordinary achievement.

Each of the five would-be hit-men is given his own distinct voice.There's Garrison, the solider of fortune who prefers to work alone.Turner, the man running from the shady past looking to stake his claim beyond the reach of U.S. extradition.There's Garth, the hired muscle.And then, most interestingly, there's Hines the college kid from upstate New York, and Fenton the aging bank teller from New England.Each man confronts his own demons along the way and is changed by the mission; the suspense ramps up not from the net tightening around Castro, but rather from each man slowly losing focus.Will Castro get away?Will any of the assassins survive to claim the reward?It's not so much the plotting of "Killing Castro" that drives the story as it is the five hit men with too much time to kill.

Block's writing style impressess -- he quotes liberally from other authors and poets, and each of his five characters has a sufficiently different voice so that you're not just reading the same hunter-stalks-his-prey episode five times over.Even Castro gets his own voice -- Block tells his story in alternating chapters, and although history proved him wrong about Castro outstaying his welcome, it's still a bold narrative maneuever.

Most exciting of all about this book was the fact that Block was barely 23 when he wrote it.Such a sophisticated, mature voice at that age.Naturally the best was yet to come. ... Read more

31. Hope to Die (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 400 Pages (2002-11-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006103097X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The city caught its collective breath when upscale couple Byrne and Susan Hollander were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Now, a few days later, the killers themselves have turned up dead behind the locked door of a Brooklyn hellhole -- one apparently slain by his partner in crime who then took his own life.

There's something drawing Matthew Scudder to this case that the cops have quickly and eagerly closed: a nagging suspicion that a third man is involved, a cold, diabolical puppet master who manipulates his two accomplices, then cuts their strings when he's done with them. No one but Scudder even suspects he exists. And his worst fear is that the guy is just getting started ...

... Read more

Customer Reviews (45)

2-0 out of 5 stars Hackneyed Mess
This is an unbelievably bad Lawrence Block novel. I suspect he may have owed his publisher a book after signing a big book deal. Or maybe he wanted to try to write something commercial. But this one is a big dud.

It's not that his writing is bad. He's still very good with dialogue and style. However, the plot is horrible. His serial killer characterization is cliched, distasteful, and not believable.

Block makes a mistake by alternating the first person narrative of Matt Schudder with the serial killer. It just doesn't work.

I've read a lot of Lawrence Block novels, and this is one of the worst.

4-0 out of 5 stars Love the Characters!
Here's my review system--I score on four categories and average them together for the number of stars. The four categories are: character development (are the characters deep and complex, plot (is it interesting), voice (is the narration smooth and engaging) and cliche level (is it predictable.)

Character development: 5 stars--Lawrence Block's characters are unique and distinctive--they grow and evolve

Plot: 3 stars-- There were some twists but nothing remarkable--to me it doesn't matter because the characters are so good

Voice: 5 stars-- Maybe as good as it gets. You feel like you're having a conversation

Cliche level: 5 stars-- Block twists every thing so the cliche just isn't there--which always makes him a great read.

Scudder is a real life character who I feel like I know intimately. Each book is like a visit with an old friend.

2-0 out of 5 stars sappy ending
I Hope this was worst of the Matthew Scudder series, since I bought quite a few.I read When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes and this was great writing. This was not terrible, but silly in parts, disjointed and not reasonable overall.The ending was utterly sappy.puh leez

5-0 out of 5 stars GreatAs Usual
Matthew Scudder is a good guy and a real everyday hero. I love the way he thinks and admire Block's solid unpretentious writing. Matt is in recovery, and knows how to work a program. It informs his life and the way he goes about living. There is a lot to be learned from reading about Matt and his adventures.

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Block, Classic Crime
For over twenty-five years Lawrence Block has been entertaining readers with his tales of New York City's no-nonsense private eye Matt Scudder.After a brief respite, Block and Scudder are back in prime form in this hard-hitting crime thriller.An affluent New York couple is brutally murdered in their upper west side brownstone in what appears to be a home invasion burglary.Within days of crime, the suspects are found dead in a Brooklyn slum, victims of what appears to be a murder suicide.Case closed.But there are some inconsistencies in the all-too-perfect conclusion, inconsistencies that pull the now sixty-something Scudder into the hunt.It seems that a third player is pulling the strings, and as new bodies start to pile up, the NYPD starts taking Scudder's doubts seriously.

As always, Block writes with the street start style that only a New Yorker who knows and loves his city can muster.Through the eyes of Scudder, Bloch perfectly captures New York from the mean streets of Hell's Kitchen to the posh digs bordering Central Park.Those familiar with Block will welcome brief but meaningful appearances of Danny Boy and Mick Ballou, while TJ has matured from the street kid cast adrift to a savvy and well-grounded adolescent, the full-fledged assistant to the mostly-retired Scudder.Cleverly plotted, suspenseful, and well paced, "Hope to Die" piles up more evidence in the case to declare Lawrence Block as America's most accomplished author of popular crime fiction.If you enjoy this one, make sure to read "All the Flowers are Dying", a poignant follow-up to this fine mystery/thriller.
... Read more

32. A Walk Among the Tombstones (A Matt Scudder Mystery)
by Lawrence Block
Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-11-15)
list price: US$11.12 -- used & new: US$6.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0752837486
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The wife of Kheran Khoury, heroin wholesaler, is killed after he haggles over the price of her ransom. With the help of two computer geniuses, a streetwise punk, drug lords and his friend, ex-cop Scudder, they track the killers through the back streets of Brooklyn. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

2-0 out of 5 stars Tombstones is gruesome, even for Block
I am a huge fan of Block and love his Matthew Scudder series, and I do think his books just keep getting better. But I have to say I almost wish I hadn't read this one. The details of the crimes commited by the serial killer psychos are the most gruesome I've ever encountered, and he goes over and over them. I realize he's trying to create really scary bad guys, but for me, this was over the top. Anybody out there who has trouble with explicit descriptions of torture should skip this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Winner
If there is a better living crime novelist than Lawrence Block, I'd like to know who it is. I have yet to read a Scudder story that did not have me riveted!Having only recently discovered this series, every time I read another one it is deemed my new "favorite."

So, until I finish "Time to Murder and Create", which is excellent so far, "A Walk Among the Tombstones" is my favorite to date - vicious killers, flawed protagonists, interesting secondary characters and lots of action - what more could you want?I am a big fan of the Lawrence Sanders Commandment and Deadly Sin series so now that he is gone, I am glad that there are so many Scudder books yet to be read and savored.By the way, I have not read these books in any kind of order and it makes absolutely no difference!

4-0 out of 5 stars A good Scudder, but not a classic
A very gritty and black entry into the series of the former alkie but still unlicensed private eye.In this book, Scudder is hired by a drug dealer to find the sadistic spree killers who kidnapped and butchered his wife.With the help of his street connections, Scudder decides to mete out some more of the rough justice that is becoming his trademark.But lest he become a remorseless killing machine, Block allows Scudder to begin to craft some domestic bliss at the end of this saga.It's a fine read, because Block is always entertaining.A few points distract from the story.One is unfortunate timing; the book is dated, with its labyrinthine plot to get ahold of a phone number that today could be obtained by the police without a second thought, and most civilians who have the technology.Block uses a pair of teenage hackers as the tools for this caper, and it seems like Block's stretching, trying to get into the big "thing" of the early '90s.Clearly Block's not on familiar ground, plot- or dialogue-wise.He should stick to cynical thugs and world-weary cops.The other point is that this book has a lot of black humor of the particularly morbid variety.The Scudder that I'm familiar with wouldn't have made a joke about a woman getting her breast cut off (in A Dance At the Slaughterhouse, his reaction to torture was appropriately grim).Maybe now that Scudder's found love, he's light hearted enough tocrack about torture and mutiliation, but I'm not sure I like it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Good story, boring book.
This is the first, and only, book I've read by Lawrence Block.I picked it up for a N.Y.-to-L.A. flight.After the reviews here and on the book, I thought it would at the very least be a harmless read that zipped along, but I was disappointed to find out it's a deadly slow and dull affair.Block writes the oddest, most stilted dialogue I've ever read. This novel has no drive whatsoever to it.The cover review speaks of "suspense" that "never lets up."Could have fooled me.(There IS no suspense.)The plot, which is good, is an afterthought.The book is really about AA and dealing with being a former drunk or an addict.This plot about kidnappers/rapists who are snatching up the loved ones of drug dealers is hardly dealt with.Scudder is a lumbering dope who shuffles about without doing much work.For the most part two hackers and a young black kid (who talks like an old white man trying to write slang) do all the work.This business in the book, about getting a number that called a particular phone, seems downright silly today, with Caller ID on every home phone.

Block's prose style is that curt, brisk variety you see in a lot of detective books, and while I enjoy it when it's done right, here it comes off as lazy and half-assed.Like he couldn't be bothered.

You'll find yourself skipping through the pale talk about alcoholics and God.Not because they aren't subjects for discussion, but because Block cannot craft even one realistic line of dialogue.

I would have enjoyed a more detailed look about what is an intriguing idea -- kidnapping from those that can't go to the cops -- but this is clearly a case where an author had an idea and nothing after that.

5-0 out of 5 stars a headlong ride with no letup
This was the first Scudder novel I tried,and I have since read all of them.The novel is one of the best.In one short passage where Block mentions a body being dumped in Mount Zion cemetery in Queens,he evokes a very sharp ,realistic image-you have to be there on a gray drizzly Sunday afternoon to know just how desolate a place in the city can be.A perfect place to dump a body.Block has a great sense of place as well as a very strong grasp of the details of how crime and the investigation of it play out in the real world.Block portrays evil in a way that makes you realize there is nothing theatrical or entertaining about it.These attributes form the reinforcing rods on which Block pours the concrete to achieve the finished story.Some of his novels are better than others,but none are poorly written.Even the one I liked least was saved by a single scene which was basically the outpourings of a hoodlum's feelings about his brother's death in Vietnam.It was far more powerful than my synopsis makes it sound and it made the book worth reading. ... Read more

33. A Diet of Treacle (Hard Case Crime)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 205 Pages (2008-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$1.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843959576
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Reprinted in 2008 by Hard Case Crime, this is a novel originally published under a different title (Pads Are For Passion, God help us) and a pseudonym in 1961.Publishers Weekly had good things to say about it:

From Publishers Weekly
"Reprinted for the first time since its pseudonymous publication nearly 50 years ago, this tour of the 1950s Manhattan underworld begins with Anita, a good college girl with a bright but predictable future, who comes to Greenwich Village to find what else is out there. Block's New York is a noir wonderland, populated with junkies and beatsters (the dark predecessor to the modern hipster) spouting angular tough-guy dialogue, in which Anita plays curious, confused Alice. Down the rabbit hole, she meets Joe, an aimless loser, and his roommate, Shank, a violent drug dealer whose earnings provide them with a life of leisure. When psychopathic Shank murders a cop, however, they all go on the run toward an uncertain fate. Block effortlessly immerses himself in the mind space of Joe and Shank, reporting their world of drugs, sex and disaffection with a matter-of-factness that hits hard, all the more convincing because Block never makes an overt effort to convince. A potboiler morality play at its finest, the novel doesn't deliver much action until its last third, but the slow build of the first two will give readers the delicious (and all-too-rare) feeling that anything could happen."

Well, that's generous of them, innit?What struck me in the course of formatting it for Kindle publication is that you'd never believe I wrote it when I was 22 or 23 years old.I'll tell you, it sure reads like the work of a fourteen-year old to me.But what do I know? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Block at his brilliant best
A Diet of Treacle is one of my all-time favourite Block books. New York in the swinging 60's is vividly brought to life, telling the story of Joe and Shank. Drugs play a major part of the story, but murder and rape is also brought to the table. Perhaps not to everyone's taste, but Block manages to make the reading compelling. Highly recommended. Buy it. Read it. Steal it.

5-0 out of 5 stars a paperback version of film noir
This book hits you hard with the counter culture of the beat generation of the late 50s in Greenwich Village.A trio of young beatniks entertain themselves with drugs and philosophizing about how uncool the squares are.But you know something is brewing with the young drug dealer, who is volatile.He creates tension with the girl, and just as she is trying to get her and her boyfriend in a safer situation, things implode in a hurry.Soon our trio of misfits are on the run from the law, and just like so many black and white movies from the 50s, you know it isn't going to be a pretty ending.

A very enjoyable read!

3-0 out of 5 stars More Block in my Diet
It's a rare crime novel that sends the reader to a dictionary just to learn the definition of a title word. That's what I had to do for "treacle" in Lawrence Block's A Diet of Treacle. Bachelor's degree, Master's degree. I hold both and didn't' know that word. Go figure. Now, I do. It's an odd word, evoking fantastical things and people, not criminals and guns. Sure enough, the opening quote is from Alice in Wonderland. One word of advice: when you finish the novel, go back and re-read the excerpt. You'll have your `a-ha' moment. I did.

The cover synopsis focuses on Anita Carlone, good girl who is bored with life so much so that she starts living with her new man, Joe Morelli, and his roommate/sugar daddy, shank. As the novel progresses, I kept wondering why the focus was on her. This was clearly a book with three protagonists. Each person has his or her own life view and that worldview influences his or her decisions and reactions.

Joe and Shank live in Greenwich Village circa 1960: pre-JFK, pre-Vietnam, pre Summer of Love, pre-counterculture. They both smoke weed that Shank sells, talk in beat lingo, and that's about it. I have to praise the reader, Christian Conn, for employing different voices to bring these cats to life, Shank, especially. Conn gives Shank the nasally quality of a weasel. At first, I didn't like the reading. Then, I began to fear what's behind the voice. Block skillfully gives a little background on Shank early on so that each subsequent scene has some underlining tension to it.

As the story progresses, I kept waiting for the murder the cover blurb ("She went looking for thrills...and found murder") promised. It finally arrived at, of course, the most inopportune moment. One can guess what happens next. However, as their flight and hiding out continues, I kept wondering why Shank kept bothering to keep Joe and Anita around. Shank himself wonders why, too. Maybe it goes back to the quote. I couldn't figure it out, but the quote ties directly into the last sentence.

I rewound the track a few times, listening to the last line over and over before I smiled. As I mentioned in my reviews for Money Shot and Kiss Her Good-bye, it's a great book when the last sentence delivers a punch. This last sentence doesn't deliver that kind of blow, but it's a good one. It makes you pause and think, which is sometimes just as good as a punch in the gut.

2-0 out of 5 stars Reviewing: "A Diet Of Treacle"
Set in the late fifties in New York City, this novel released again by publisher Hard Case Crime, considers the odd triangle formed by three characters all driven by the need to be hip and not square.A variation on the Romeo and Juliet star crossed lovers theme with the added complication of another person who is not blood family and yet the three form a sort of dysfunctional family for a time.

Anita Carbone lives in Uptown with her mom and has a good if not great life. But, the young lady is bored and doesn't want the all too predictable future that is expected of her. So, from time to time she ventures out and into the Village in a quest for something she can't define. Her forays out are never planned and she isn't really sure what she is looking for as she just wants something different with the hint of possibly forbidden.

A rather stoned Joe Milani knows exactly what he wants with her when he spies her sitting a few tables away in a coffee house located in Greenwich Village. Joe is a war veteran who certainly hasn't had it easy on his return home and now doesn't want much more out of his life than getting high, drinking coffee at The Palermo, and making a few bucks here and there. Content to drift through life convinced that things are what they are and are unchangeable including his own place in life, he lives with his roommate and friend Leo Marsten, also known by one and all by the name "Shank." What starts as a dare between the two of them soon has surprising results as Joe, despite Shank's opinion, does manage to pick up Anita and eventually an unlikely romance.

While the two lovers are completely opposite in every way, the complicating factor is the dark personality of Shank. A small time drug dealer and hood, he gets any woman he wants and only rarely has to display the knife he is known for in the neighborhood. He has plans, albeit unfocused plans in the beginning, for the future. Once he starts on a course of action he isn't about to change it no matter the consequences to those around him.

Beyond being a criticism of the beat movement, this novel is a rather flat read featuring simplistic characters on an obvious road to ruin. The good girl, Anita, is portrayed as stunningly naïve about everyone and everything while Joe is the stereotypical war veteran deeply scarred by battle and yet filled with a good heart that will be unleashed by the right woman. Through Anita, Joe slowly discovers that there is more to life than being stoned all day and that they could have a future together if they broke free of the darkly evil, Shank. Beyond all that is implied by his nickname, he is a twisted force of simmering evil that is gradually and relentlessly poisoning everyone and everything he touches.

Hard Case Crime publishes good books and ones that I usually like but this one was a strong exception. This read didn't work for me as I was bored most of the book. The characters never came alive for me or mattered in any substantive way, the writing seemed flat and dated possibly because it was originally published in 1961, and the ending was vague and unsatisfying. At 205 pages it was a quick, but lack luster read.

Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2008

5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Block
Block is a grand master who never disappoints.This 1961 reprint offers a rat and roach's eye view of the beatster's Village.Two barely-likeable individuals and one distasteful thug come together and form a dysfunctional trinity.When the latter begins killing anyone and everyone who gets in his way the other two start to reconsider their triangulated relationship and the degree to which it is guaranteeing them a one-way trip to a ride on Old Sparky.Decision time.

As always with Block, the plotting is economical, the dialogue excellent, the multi-dimensional characters contributing to a bad juju stew.The suspense holds and the resolution is satisfying.Another gift from the past via Hard Case Crime.Enjoy. ... Read more

34. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers
by Lawrence Block
Paperback: 256 Pages (1994-02-25)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$5.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0688132286
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"I would urge other writers, at whatever point in their careers, to take the time to read this indispensable handbook....Telling Lies for Fun & Profit should be a permanent part of every writer's library."-- From the Introduction by Sue Grafton

Characters refusing to talk? Plot plodding along? Where do good ideas come from anyway? In this wonderfully practical volume, two-time Edgar Award-winning novelist Lawrence Block takes an inside look at writing as a craft and as a career.

From studying the market, to mastering self-discipline and "creative procrastination," through coping with rejections, Telling Lies for Fun & Profit is an invaluable sourcebook of information. It is a must read for anyone serious about writing or understanding how the process works.

Amazon.com Review
It's a good thing Lawrence Block is so friendly and generouswith his writing advice. Otherwise, you'd just have to hate theguy. After all, it took him a mere two weeks to write his firstnovel. He was still a teenager at the time, and he promptly sold it toFawcett, the first publisher to see it. What can a guy like that tellthe rest of us about fiction writing that could possibly apply to ourlives? Lots, actually. Telling Lies for Fun & Profitcomprises four years' worth of Block's monthly fiction-writing columnfrom Writer's Digest magazine. In it, Block turns his witty,welcoming prose to many aspects of the writing life, includingcollaboration, which Block maintains he does "largely as a means ofavoiding work"; speed writing (surprise: "Sometimes a book or storywill be better for having been written more rapidly"); the benefits ofusing strong verbs; and the importance of good character names.

As one might expect from a man who seems to have such a facile waywith the typewriter, Block can make writing seem a lot easier than itdoes in real life. "If you write one page a day," he says, "you willproduce a substantial novel in a year.... Don't you figure you couldproduce one measly little page, even on a bad day? Even on arotten day?"

Still, just because he's published about, oh, 50 books, don't thinkBlock considers novel writing to be all fun and profit. "Those of uswho are driven to produce great quantities of manuscript don'tnecessarily get any real pleasure out of the act," he says. "It's justthat we feel worse when we don't write." --JaneSteinberg ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book.
Very well written and hopefully will be as helpful to other writers as it is to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Writing Class You Can Afford Taught By a Master
Lawrence Block is one of my favorite writers. Who knew he was also an excellent teacher?

This book will be helpful for novices as well as more experienced writers. The advice he provides is excellent. I like that he discusses his own writing along with others and critiques what works and what doesn't--and why.

Everything's in here including plot, characterization, dialogue, rewriting, marketing, and even, yes, a dab of philosophy and spirituality.

You'll be a better writer (and reader) for having read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars He's done it again.
If you have read any of the other reviews here you will already know that Lawrence Block is a great writer who has produced many successful books. He also is a very generous man when it comes to sharing his very real understanding of how to put words together.

Actually, Block has come out with several books on how to improve your writing. He has taught seminars in this field, done a multi-year column in Writer's Digest on this topic and responded to the needs of many professional and not-yet-published writers.

This book is a gem. It is one of those volumes to which you will return over and over again. Like a good friend, it is here to support you and, basically, help you out regardless of wherever you may find yourself. Sue Grafton, who wrote the introduction to the 1994 edition, laughs that she picked up the book in the middle of a dry period in her writing. She was just stuck and really stewing in her own juices.

You know the feeling.

In her hands she held the sure remedy. This book.

Whatever the price, it is cheap for what you get.

I can't speak highly enough of the books of Lawrence Block. He is a highly skilled writer, teacher and all-round great guy.

And, as you will find when you read this book, he has amazing insight into what you are struggling with.

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, with lots of good advice for writers
This book is really a collection of essays offering advice to novice writers. Topics include discipline, the craft of writing, revising, marketing, and more. In most of these essays, the author uses entertaining stories from his own writing life to illustrate his point. While some of the details seem quaintly out of date (for example, the references to rolling a sheet of paper into your typewriter), the book offers tons of advice that is fun to read and relevant to writers of any age.

4-0 out of 5 stars Behold the Grand Master!
Lawrence Block is an absolute master of the mystery genre, so much so that he was voted Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America back in 1993. The man has an incredible output of novels and short stories, and along with Elmore Leonard dominated the mystery scene of the `80's and `90's. Until this past year, I'd never read much of Block's work, preferring newer authors and titles. So after reading a title from Block's Matthew Scudder series, I looked forward to reading TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT, hoping to discover a little of what makes Block tick as a writer and if any of that could help me in my writing endeavors.

The result? Block definitely hits it out of the park with this book. Lots of great tips on visualization, characterization, creative plagiarism, procrastination, how to submit your work to publishers, framing, distancing--the list goes on at great length, not to mention at a great service to all would-be writers. Block touches on so many aspects of the writer's life--including, infamously, his comments on how many writers don't actually enjoy the process of writing, but are pulled along at the thought of the finished product--that it's hard to think of what Block DIDN'T cover in this book. Sure, some of his advice seems to be cliché by now, and no doubt it can be found in numerous other writing books. But when you consider that Block wrote this book in 1981, you realize that he was ahead of the game just that much.

Very funny, very insightful, and coming from a wizard of the genre, TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT didn't disappoint a bit. And while Block is a mystery writer, TELLING LIES isn't exclusively for those looking to write mysteries; it's good enough for every genre. Pick up this and DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and see your writing improve. ... Read more

35. Random Walk
by Lawrence Block
Paperback: 372 Pages (2000-05-23)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1583483810
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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It begins in the Pacific Northwest. Guthrie decides to take a walk. He doesn't know how far he's going or where he's going. A journey of any length begins with a single step and Guthrie takes it, facing east.

Wonderful things happen as he walks. He begins to draw people to him. The group grows and walks and heals.

The random walk: It never ends, it just changes; it is not the destination which matters, but the journey.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars one of Block's worst
Lawrence Block is a great writer and, in his autobiography, Step by Step, he says that this is one of his favorite books and that he wrote it in a burst of energy in two weeks straight.Unfortunately, only the latter makes sense. This just isn't a very good book.

It is severely handicapped by a completely absurd line of silly mystic mumbo-jumbo that propels its characters on their "walk." They are boring because there is no conflict. They join the walk, they experience a miracle cure, they all get along.The other half of the book is from the point of view of a prolific serial killer. He is not boring, but he sure is super creepy, so much so that it's hard to enjoy the book.

The Kindle formatting is fine, no issues.

Skip this one unless you are a New Age loon, a serial killer, or a Block completist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unusual, enthralling, compelling
I usually try to avoid the use of personal pronouns in writing my reviews, but Random Walk is not a book one can discuss without revealing one's feelings.First, let me express my happiness that PS Publishing has chosen to bring this extraordinary book back into print--it's the kind of book that makes you think, the kind that gives you hope, the kind that helps achieve an instantaneous, strong connection between those who have read it if it comes up in a conversation (which it has many times, at least for this reviewer).The mere mention of the title brings a smile to each participant's face, triggering pleasant shared memories.The enthusiastic conversation that ensues is peppered with many sentences starting with, "Wasn't it great when..." or, "I liked the part when..."and usually ends in mutual agreement that Block was on fire when he wrote it.

The novel proceeds from a simple premise--one day, ordinary guy Guthrie Wagner sets out on a walk, with little idea of where he's going or why he feels compelled to do so.As he walks, people from all races and walks of life join him, again for no other reason than that they feel it is the right thing to do.As the group grows, wondrous things start to happen, causing the walkers to wonder if they are not part of something bigger, whether there's a deeper reason why they have been brought together in this manner.Their journey to discover their purpose occupies the rest of the book, which is filled with surprises galore, and also with a sense of looming disaster, as their path seems destined to cross with that of a prolific serial killer, whose grim story occupies another track of the novel.

I won't gush any more about this book, one of Block's most unusual, enthralling and compelling tales--noted SF writer Spider Robinson does an excellent job of this in his insightful introduction, which opens with the words, "Welcome to one of the most glorious journeys ever undertaken."I can't recommend this book highly enough--I think you will enjoy it, and suspect it will stay with you long after you turn the last page, just as it has for the last twenty years with Mr. Robinson and me.

1-0 out of 5 stars Complete junk
This pseudo heavy "walk" through Oregon with a serial killer story spliced in between windbags spouting about their being healed etc.... is surely one of the worst pieces of junk I ever tried to read.This book takes itself way too seriously and the writing is amateur. Total garbage.

5-0 out of 5 stars loved this book - way back when
I loved this book when I first read it, way back in the day when I was a practicing psychic.Ok, teeth didn't grow back, but things like this were happening.Now, I have been on a quest to read all Lawrence Block's books, liking some series better than others.It's hard to believe it's the same author.Read Random Walk with an open mind...

5-0 out of 5 stars Just Remember to Alternate Your Feet
The first thing that struck me about this book was that it's setting began in Oregon.I checked the front cover again, to make sure I'd picked up a Lawrence Block book and not some other author by mistake.Almost all of the Block books in my library (I'm missing only a handful) are set in NYC, so his starting off in Roseburg OR (near where I live) was a real jolt.I was not nearly as surprised when, after being introduced to two of the principles, Guthrie (Roseburg) who was the first to start walking, and Sara (Fort Wayne IN) who brought her 'vision' to the process, Mark the serial killer made his appearance.I knew Block knows serial killers well, so that was actually rather comforting.And in fact the entire book was rather comforting, even though I was not prepared for Mark's 'final disposition'.So why, I asked myself later, did I go into such a depressive state when I'd finished the book?To find out, I decided a day later to read it again.And now that I've finished my second read I'm here to suggest that you run, not walk, to your shopping cart and get this book into your own hands as soon as you can.You may conclude, as some have, that it's some kind of smarmy joke or you may find yourself confronting deep-seated fears/guilt as I did; but I can almost guarantee you won't be bored.The man is truly a master story teller. ... Read more

36. The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060731435
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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It's not that used bookstore owner and part-time burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr believes the less legal of his two professions is particularly ethical. (It is, however, a rush, and he is very good at it.) He just thinks it's unfair to face a prison term for his legitimate activities. After appraising the worth of a rich man's library -- conveniently leaving his fingerprints everywhere in the process -- Bernie finds he's the cops' prime suspect when his client is murdered.

Someone has framed Bernie Rhodenbarr better than they do it at the Whitney. And if he wants to get out of this corner he's been masterfully painted into, he'll have to get to the bottom of a rather artful -- if multiply murderous -- scam.

Amazon.com Review
If the only side of Lawrence Block you know is the dark and gloomy MattScudder books, such as the noir classic When the Sacred GinmillCloses, then you might be surprised to hear that he's also one ofthe most delightfully droll writers in the mystery business.

"I hurried uptown and changed into chinos and a short-sleeved shirt thatwould have been an Alligator except that the embroidered device on thebreast was not that reptile but a bird in flight. I guess it was supposedto be a swallow, either winging its way back to Capistrano or not quitemaking a summer, because the brand name was Swallowtail. It had never quitecaught on and I can understand why." That's Bernie Rhodenbarr, used bookdealer and gentleman burglar, making a literary fashion statement in thislatest return to print of one of Block's best books about him.

As with the other entries in this admirable series--The Burglar in the Closet,The Burglar in theLibrary, The BurglarWho Liked to Quote Kipling, The Burglar Who StudiedSpinoza, The BurglarWho Thought He Was Bogart, The Burglar Who Traded TedWilliams, BurglarsCan't Be Choosers--Block manages to be very amusing, moderatelysuspenseful, and impressively erudite all at the same time. The plot is acomplicated tangle of double-cross and deceit surrounding the theft of avaluable painting and two murders. Mondrian isn't the only artist beingframed here: Bernie has to use all of his skills--as burglar, lover, andart expert--to prove his (relative) innocence. --Dick Adler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
Ilike his books. They are told with a sense of humor. They are easy to read and hold my interest. This book had a lot of information abour painters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good Block Burglar Book
I was disappointed in the first Burglar book I read so I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It's funny, quirky, and has a nifty plot. Finally, Bernie's sidekick Carolyn is given some depth, and she is an interesting character. The strength of this book is the dialogue. It's dead-on and hilarious. The weakness is that there are too many characters, and the plot becomes needlessly complicated. In the end, though, it doesn't really matter. This isn't the kind of book you read for its ending. The journey is much more entertaining.

4-0 out of 5 stars Frame by Frame
Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr is one of the best figures in the world of detective fiction, which is illustrated by number five in this funny series. Used book seller, Bernie has sticky fingers that make him the least suspected amateur detective in the genre.
The supporting players in this romp are equal to Bernie. A ransom of a Mondrian for a kidnapped cat it an outrageous beginning. This Bernie demands a good art reference to make it really shine.
Block builds his characters with each installment, so going back to BURGLERS CAIN'T BE CHOOSES is a great reading trip, but each story can stand on its own.
Nash Black, author of TRAVELERS and SINS OF THE FATHERS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Acquired taste
Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries are an acquired taste. If you like pulp fiction with plain old escapism, these are the books for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Love Bernie Rhodenbarr
I just LOVE Bernie (the burglar) Rhodenbarr.He is so rodent-like -- an aptly named character.His dialogue with gay gal-pal, Caroline, is inspiring to all who appreciate sustained wit.I also adore the oafish policeman who insists on pronouncing Mondrian "Moon-drain." I laughed all through this goofy mystery.

I give any and all of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries my highest recommendation. ... Read more

37. A Stab in the Dark (Matthew Scudder Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2002-04)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$16.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380715740
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Louis Pinell, the recently apprehended "Icepick Prowler," freely admits to having slain seven young women nine years ago -- but be swears it was a copycat who killed Barbara Ettinger Matthew Scudder believes him. But the trail to Ettinger's true murderer is twisted, dark and dangerous...and even colder than the almost decade-old corpse the p.i. is determined to avenge.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Short, gritty, and to the point
These early Matthew Scudder books, written in the late 70s and early 80s, feel like a window into another world. Scudder isn't so much a private investigator as he is "a guy who does favors and sometimes takes some money in exchange for them". He solves his mysteries without the aid of computers and databases and cell phones -- his tools of the trade are footwork, conversation, and public libraries.He spends a lot of time knocking on doors and dropping dimes(!) into pay phones. Unfortunately, he also spends a lot of time in the bottle, a trait that follows him through the series. In this book, a man has been arrested for a series of murders several years earlier.The problem is, he couldn't have killed the final victim.That victim's father is looking for answers, and Scudder is going to try to find them. I enjoy these books because they're short, gritty, and to the point.

5-0 out of 5 stars one the best of Matthew Scudder
The earlier Matthew Scudder noves are the best. They are dark, gritty and realistic.In later novels, Block marries off Scudder, why?Marrying the detective off makes him as Mr and Mrs North.Here he is still free to adventure and screw up.Block fleshes out all of the characters and we know them.We may not like them, but we know and understand them.
This is one of the best of the series, and I have read them all.

4-0 out of 5 stars Matt Scudder Solves a Cold Case
In this fourth novel of the Matt Scudder series, Scudder is hired to investigate the murder of a young woman that happened nine years ago. The police assumed that the Icepick Prowler, a serial killer, had murdered her, but they recently caught him, and he confessed to all the other murders, but swore he did not do this one. Although the murder showed the characteristics of the Icepick Prowler's work, Scudder notes enough differences to make him think that a copycat killer did it and is still loose. This leads us on Scudder's plodding, careful investigation through streets (and bars) of New York. It's a gritty picture, but the author gives us clues that help to identify the killer. Otherwise, it's a surprise. Block's writing is outstanding, and his descriptions of the dark streets and alleys of New York are priceless. This is a great book to keep your attention on a long flight.

3-0 out of 5 stars Definitely not Block's best Scudder novel
While this book did have an entertaining plot, a woman is suspected of being killed by the icepick prowler, but turns out that she wasn't killed by him when he confesses to 7 of the 8 murders he was suspected of. Scudder is thrown into the mix to investigate whether Barbara Ettinger was killed by the Icepick Prowler or a copycat killer. While it is an entertaining and easy read, I felt at times that the quality of writing wasn't nearly as good as 2 of his best scudder novels ever: "Eight Million Ways to Die" and "A Dance at the Slaughterhouse". I just wasn't satisified with the quality of this book, I felt it could have been better. That tends to be the way Block's books are with me, they are either a hit or a miss.

1-0 out of 5 stars Snore.. snort.. huh? I guess I went to sleep
I made it the whole way to Jan's and Matt's "enlighting" [not very... cut me a break Block], trite, hack conversation about if he was a drunk or not and realized I was going to sleep.I made a firm decision and tossed the book into the get rid of this asap pile and went and found something else to read.

Block reads like "she said... he said..." conversations. Dry comes to mind.As I said in a previous review if you really hate "show not tell" in novels this is the writer for you.He does no showing at all.I feel as if I am listening to someone outline what might be a very good book.I had read another book of his which had the same fate as this one: halfway I tossed it into the get rid of this do NOT pass on to someone you like pile.

Matt comes across as the most pathetic attempt at an alcoholic I have encountered in novels [or in real life and I use to work Drug and Alcohol units].He meanders aimlessly thru his addiction and Block meanders aimlessly thru the plot.Well suited for each other.It's a shame.As I said previously there is great potential for a GREAT story here.It was wasted more than Matt ever was in his drinking days.

IF you must try Block, I suggest the library. ... Read more

38. The Girl With the Long Green Heart
by Lawrence Block
 Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-07-27)
list price: US$2.98
Asin: B002JCSGCG
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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I can't realiy improve on this Amazon review by Craig Clarke:

"It was a crime novel from Lawrence Block that initiated the Hard Case Crime linein 2004, and Grifter's Game was a nearly perfect choice. It set the tone for works to come while making a terrific impression on its own terms. Now Ardai and company have returned with another fantastic Block reprint, again with a grifting theme. I love a good long-con tale, and The Girl with the Long Green Heart is one of the best. In terms of pure entertainment value (and educational value, if you're an aspiring criminal like me), it belongs side-by-side with The Sting.

"The title character is Evvie Stone, secretary (among other things) to millionaire Wallace J. Gunderman. He promised to marry Evvie a long time ago, but never came through with the ring. However, that hasn't stopped him from getting his milk for free, so to speak, and Evvie is primed for revenge.

"Enter Doug Rance and John Hayden, a couple of long-time con artists who work terrifically together due to their complementary styles. They've hatched an ingenious plan guaranteed to relieve Gunderman of a hundred thousand of his precious dollars, and Evvie couldn't be more eager to help them out from the inside. But is she too eager?

"Block devises a con so well, it makes you wonder if he hasn't been involved in a little "research" himself. . .he has a way with words unlike any other author. Written in the first person, The Girl with the Long Green Heart has a lot of internal monologue from John's point-of-view. Much of it has to do with the planning of the job, but a preponderence is simply one man's thoughts when thrust into a set of situations he did not plan on, and Block manages to somehow make it all utterly riveting."

I had to read this again in order to re-format it for Kindle publication, and did so just days after performing the same chore with Grifter's Game.What struck me was how much I'd developed as a writer in the four or five years between the two books.I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two since Long Green Heart, but I have to say it has nothing to apologize for.

I was living in Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, when I began the book, and I went to Toronto and Olean to research the scenes I set there.(Years later a professor at Olean's St.Bonaventure University booked me for a talk and reading; the book was a hot ticket in Olean, let me tell you.)

Halfway through, I moved to Racine, Wisconsin, to take a job with a numismatic magazine, and I finished the book in Racine, getting up early to put in a couple of hours before I went to the office.Fawcett Gold Medal was the first house to see the book, and they took it.

Every once i a while some genius decides I ripped off The Sting.Since my book was published years before the film, well, I don't think so.Nor do I feel ill-used by the filmmakers; I'd say both their film and my book owed a bit to David Maurer's non-fiction work, The Big Con.

Hope you enjoy this one!

---Lawrence Block ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Solid Pulp Novel
My local library has several Hard Case Crime novels and they look like the hardboiled mysteries that I like. So, I bought Hard Case's reprint of Lawrence Block's 1965 novel The Girl with the Long Green Heart at my local dollar store and read it on vacation. I got what I wanted - an "easy-reading," hard-boiled mystery.

The plot will be familiar to mystery fans: "retired" grifter Johnny Hayden gets out of San Quentin and goes straight by taking a dead-end job in a bowling alley in Boulder, Colorado. His old partner in crime - compulsive gambler Doug Rance - comes for a visit.

Predictably, Doug offers Johnny the chance to participate in one, last big score. Doug has met a femme fatale (Evvie Stone) in Las Vegas. She lives in Olean, New York, where she is the mistress of a millionaire named Wallace Gunderman. Doug, Evvie, and Johnny plot to rip off Gunderman.

Hardboiled mystery fans will like this one. The plot is interesting with plenty of action and violence. Block also makes good use of the settings (Chicago, Toronto, Olean). But Block's characters - while well drawn - are overly familiar: the "reformed" criminal, the femme fatale, the crooked capitalist. Also, the plot is predictable.

I recommend The Girl with the Long Green Heart to mystery fans who want simple escapism. It won't change your life, but it's a lot of fun.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hard Case Crime - Pulp Fiction For You!!!!
This is my first foray into the world of the noir genre. I have never read any of these books, and so I was curious to see what they would hold for me. I have to say I did not expect too much in the way of reading experience, but I got a hell of one in this book. What I got was a bird's eye view of a scheme to take someone for all they are worth. It was a good trip, watching these jail birds think up their con. So, I can now say these books, which I had devalued because they looked cheesy, are worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun Noir
I had read a short story by Block, was favorably impressed, and decided to check out something longer from him. This was my first Block novel, but it won't be the last.

It started a little slow, but then it picked up pace. Oh boy, did it! I haven't had this much fun reading a crime novel in a long time. Yeah, sometimes the prose is overblown, and, yep, it's sexist and homophobic. But it's true to its time period, and the characters are believable and memorable.

This writer is a great crime fiction writer!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal...
I came late to being a fan of Lawrence Block, but when I found him, I read him voraciously for a while.Scudder, Rhodenbarr, and Keller have kept me interested, as have some of his older books.So when I found THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART on the Hard Case Crime imprint, I bought it.

And then I sort of forgot about it.It sat in a stack of paperbacks, unread, and then finally, about two days ago, I pulled it out after finishing a Preston/Child book.Man, am I glad I did.

It's a great story about a long con set up by two grifters, which of course doesn't go down the way it's supposed to.It brings you back to days gone by when crime fiction was truly hardboiled, and the crooks were tough guys in words and action.Johnny Hayden is a classic noir character, and everyone else in the book follows suit.

The dialogue crackles, as it does in most of Block's work.You really feel like you're a fly on the wall, listening to real people talk.You hear them, you see the settings, and you feel their moods and passions, even when these are understated.

The end worked really well, in my opinion, and fit the feel of the story perfectly.The blow-off was almost as neat to see develop as the con itself was.

I'd recommend this book without reservation to any hard-boiled crime fiction afficianado.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Noir Thriller
The Girl With the Long Green Heart (1965) is the story of a long-term con. Evvie Stone is millionaire Wallace J. Gunderman's secretary and mistress. When Gunderman's wife finally dies and he refuses to make good on his promise to marry her, Evvie connects with Doug Rance and John Hayden, experienced con-artists. Doug's charm is balanced by John's sincerity, making them the perfect team to help Evvie get her revenge along with a pile of money. Written from John's point of view, the con starts slowly and then begins to snowball toward the unexpected conclusion. Block is a mesmerizing storyteller and this book is a real page-turner.
http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/B_Authors/Block_Lawrence.html ... Read more

39. Two For Tanner
by Lawrence Block
 Paperback: 192 Pages (1986-10-15)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 0515086886
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40. The Burglar in the Closet (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries)
by Lawrence Block
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2006-05-01)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$2.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006087273X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description

It's hard to ignore someone with his hands in your mouth. Bernie Rhodenbarr's all ears when Dr. Sheldrake, his dentist, starts complaining about his detestable, soon-to-be-ex wife, and happens to mention the valuable diamonds she keeps lying around the apartment. Since Bernie's been known to supplement his income as a bookstore owner with the not-so-occasional bout of high-rise burglary, a couple of nights later he's in the Sheldrake apartment with larceny on his mind -- and has to duck into a closet when the lady of the house makes an unexpected entrance. Unfortunately he's still there when an unseen assailant does Mrs. Sheldrake in . . . and then vanishes with the jewels.

Bernie's got to come out of the closet some time. But when he does, he'll be facing a rap for a murder he didn't commit -- and for a burglary he certainly attempted -- unless he can hunt down the killer who left him hanging.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not a sophmore slump...exactly.
I recently wrote a review for Burglars Can't be Choosers which I loved. I was very excited to read the second Bernie G. Rhodenbarr novel, which I just finished. The verdict? While as fast paced and fun to read as 'Burglars Can't be Choosers,' 'The Burglar in the Closet' doesn't quite have a strong enough plot to warrant 5 stars. The novel begins much the same way as the first Bernie book. There is a murder and Bernie is at the wrong place at the wrong time and thus he needs to clear his good name by solving the murder before he gets arrested. Now this is a bit weak, to have pretty much the same premise for two books in a row, but Block has a formula, so I will give him that. But then the plot gets even thinner when Bernie's dentist's hygenist contacts Bernie when the dentist gets arrested. I mean, come on, like some patient is going to be the first person the hygenist thinks to call. And the plot never really gets much better from there. So, yes, the book is fun and fast and for that I will give it four stars, but is it satisfying? No, not really. Even after Bernie ties up all of the loose ends...which are streched to say the least, it still feels like Block wasn't really sure where he wanted to go with the novel and then tried to bring it all together at the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bookblogger
Exactly what I expected.Well packaged.Book was not damaged during shipping.No true of other books I have ordered.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good traveling companion
A Bernie Rhodenbarr Mystery.Droll mystery is fun, not earthshaking.Perfect traveling companion (I read most of this on an airplane flight from Boston to Raleigh).

4-0 out of 5 stars A good quick read
A very light whodunnit.Witty, charming and laugh out loud funny.

4-0 out of 5 stars Follow-up in the series improves on the concept
I read this book before I read the first one in the series.It didn't matter much but it does reveal some plot points from the first book and if you want to go into the series blind, I recommend starting with the first, Burglars Can't Be Choosers.

I felt the cement around our favorite thief, Bernie Rhodenbarr, starts to firm up with this book.The character is still being fleshed out and Lawrence Block can take him in a lot of directions from here, if he wants, but an established personality is developing nicely.

The setup and mystery of this book are similar to the first but different enough that you don't feel like you are just reading a rehash.Block can't keep going on this tack without seeming redundant but for now it is fine.And I guess the main reason it works is that the motivation to solve the mystery and the development of the mystery is different in each book.

I'm interested in what happens to Bernie next.I will check out the third book to see where Block leads Bernie and the readers and then I'll decide if it is still worth following.For the moment, I'm willing to join in. ... Read more

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