Cover Artist: Ken Laager
Review by Mario Guslandi
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596065710
Date: 30 September 2013
List Price $30.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Publisher's Book Page / Show Official Info /
A recognized master of crime fiction, Lawrence Block is not only an acclaimed and prolific novelist, but also the author of numerous short stories of which sixteen are collected in the present volume.
Being such a great writer, Block has actually been responsible for my recent move from reading horror to crime (which is making my life as a reader and a reviewer much more complicated, torn between the two genres).
The book is a veritable feast for any lover of good fiction and all the stories included therein are entertaining and captivating.
"A Chance to Get Even" is a solid piece revolving around a game of cards where a man is not sure if he prefers to win or to lose, while "Catch and Release" is the effective, disquieting portrait of a peculiar "fisherman" endlessly searching a new prey.
The compelling "Doll's Trash and Treasures" features a woman living in a house full of junk, which finally reveals more than expected and "See the Woman" is an intense story disclosing some secrets of the policeman job.
"Who Knows Where It Goes" set within the frame of the economic downturn is an insightful tale describing how behind a criminal there's always a man with his ordinary life problems.
In the brief but accomplished "Scenarios" a man's sadistic fantasies have to cope with a grim reality, while in the outstanding, dark "Clean Slate" (part of the subsequent novel Getting Off) a girl with a history of abuse and a murderous attitude seeks revenge on men.
"Speaking of Greed" and "Speaking of Lust" are two novellas where four men (a priest, a policeman, a doctor, and a soldier) playing cards keep interrupting their game to tell each other stories. Not all the tales are memorable (most, however, are excellent) but the whole scenario is created by Block with the steady hand of a skilled storyteller, able to completely entice his readers.
Last but not least, the collection also includes "How Far" a superb stage play graced by a terrific dialogue featuring a man and a woman making a deal...and something more.
Truly a fantastic collection.
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