Sunday 4 January 2015




On the border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, five lives are about to collide - with fatal results. You'll meet 

MARTY - the professional gambler who rolls the dice on a night with...

MEG - the bored divorcee who seeks excitement and finds...

LILY - the beautiful hitchhiker lured into a live sex show by...

CASSIE - the redhead with her own private agenda...

and WEAVER - the madman, the killer with a straight razor in his pocket,  on the run from the police and determined to go down swinging!

This is MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block at his rawest and most visceral, a bloody, bawdy, brutal story of passion and punishment--and of lines that were never meant to be crossed.

PLUS: Three of Block’s rarest short stories from the pulps, mapping the border between sanity and depravity…..THE BURNING FURY, A FIRE AT NIGHT and STAG PARTY GIRL

My second 5 star read from December was Lawrence Block’s Borderline, a short novel written back in the early 60’s. I think I’d be entertained reading this guy’s shopping list.

Sometimes it’s hard to define what I like about books. This one ticked a lot of boxes though…..interesting characters, especially Marty our professional gambler and Lily our young hitchhiker, drifting south from a feckless boyfriend who had her turning tricks, to becoming a participant in one of the legendary Mexican stage shows. Our other characters, including our killer were slightly less interesting to me….still you can’t have 5 leads can you?

With the action unfolding in our border towns of El Paso and Juarez and our characters criss-crossing the divide between the two countries, setting was a massive plus for me also.

One of the main characters or drivers in the book was SEX. I’m no prude but I was surprised by the amount of it in this one. I think a lot of my previous exposure to the pulps has been mainly at the bash ‘em and beat ‘em end of the spectrum as opposed to the strip ‘em and screw ‘em end. Block does have a way with words though, and I’m sure my ears tinged pink as I read, feeling like a ring-side viewer at our live sex-show! You've got to love this guy.

With our characters, Block serves up their pasts and presents in surprisingly quick order. When they intersect and collide, sparks fly and without spoiling, it’s fair to say our climax doesn't see a happy end for most of our participants.
Borderline was short and kind of ended surprisingly abruptly – I’d forgotten the extra stories at the back of the book and was still expecting an inch of story judging by the number of un-thumbed pages still to come. Once I got my wits back, my verdict was – fantastic.

The 3 extra stories entertained as well. Perfect reading material for a grim December.

I'm definitely hoping to get back to more from Mr Block in 2015, picking up where I left off with Scudder..... somewhere around book 5 or 6.

5 from 5

I did get access (sort of) to an Audible version after responding to an offer on one of the author’s newsletters, unfortunately I was incapable of downloading the correct programme properly in order to listen to this. I went to my local library instead and borrowed.


  1. Col, I agree, Lawrence Block has a way with words. He brings seemingly ordinary lines to life. I'm discovering that in an Evan Tanner novel I'm currently reading.

    1. Prashant, I haven't yet tried a Tanner book, but hope to at some point. I hope you will be reviewing it. Regarding his books - I think I have yet to read a duff one!

  2. Not surprised you found this so much to your liking. Block's style, characters and so on are just about always top-notch.

    1. Margot thanks. I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for me as I haven't previously read one of his "racier" books. I think back when he was starting out, he cut his teeth writing a lot a lot of "soft porn" type books in addition to mysteries - a lot of them under pseudonyms. I would still class this one as crime fiction though, with additional content perhaps!

  3. The book's a maybe, but the cover is magnificent - I could see at the top of one of my blog entries!

    1. They do like a lively pair don't they......and as for the woman and the man well......

  4. Sounds interesting although probably too heavy on the sex. But I have boatloads of unread Lawrence Block ... standalone books and series books. And short stories. So I will read those first.

    1. Tracy, I do love him and when I think of all the years of mystery-crime fiction I enjoyed without trying him.....not time wasted but more a missed opportunity. I feel the same about Bill Pronzini. Here's to more LB for us both in 2015!