The Master Returns--With Never-Before-Collected Tales of Murder and Desire
One of the most highly acclaimed novelists in the crime genre, Lawrence Block is also a master of the short story, with award-winning work ranging from the macabre to the slyly comic, from heart-stopping tales of revenge to memorable explorations of lust and greed, all told in Block's unforgettable style. The sixteen stories (and one stage play!) collected here feature appearances by some of Block s most famous characters, including gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr and alcoholic private detective Matt Scudder, as well as glimpses into the minds of a rogue's gallery of frightening killers, dangerous sociopaths, crooked cops, and lost souls whose only chance to find themselves may be on the wrong side of a gun.
You'll meet a compulsive hoarder whose towering piles of trash and treasures hide disturbing secrets...a beautiful young tennis star with a rather too possessive secret admirer...a dealer in stolen art who is unwilling to part with his most prized possession at any price...poker players with agendas that have nothing to do with the cards in their hands...and a catch-and-release fisherman whose preferred catch walks on two legs.
Terror and passion, cruelty and vindication--it's all here, in a collection that will thrill you, scare you, and remind you why Lawrence Block is still the best there is at what he does.
Having previously confessed more of an indifference to, as opposed to a dislike of short stories, it’s kind of ironic that I have read two collections of them this month in close proximity to each other. The second of which Lawrence Block’s Catch and Release I have been enjoying on and off for the past week or two.
Among the 17 in total, there are some more enjoyable than others, as you would probably expect. The collection has just recently been released, but the author provides some history as to the origins of each story and what inspired its creation as well as a rough indication of when it was written. This in itself was quite interesting. I will have to go back in time and read one of his soft-porn books penned under the pseudonym of John Warren Wells, at a later date. A few of the stories here have a sexual content.
Highlights for me would include;
A Chance To Get Even – a poker game with an interesting last hand.
Clean Slate – a woman tries to re-establish her virginity.
Part Of The Job – what’s in your job description and how far would you go to satisfy the boss?
Speaking Of Greed – a cop, a priest, a soldier, a doctor..........oh, and an old man with flatulence.
I could choose others as well and in truth none of the collection hit any real bum notes. Whilst reading about Block’s burglars, cops, hitmen and perverts committing robberies, murder and incest among other crimes, Block sometimes stops me short with a line that imparts a certain wisdom or knowledge. Here’s three, that resonated with me, all from the same story I think..........
“I always thought the Irish wake made a lot of sense. Pour down the booze until you can think of something good to say about the deceased.”
The old fellows didn't mind; they were just trying to make a glass of beer last until the next pension check arrived.
“The few arts not yet lost,” Mick said, “have their heads on the chopping block, waiting for technology to lop them off.”
Entertaining and enjoyable.
4 from 5
My copy was requested from one of the author’s assistants who kindly obliged.