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After the First Death [Mass Market Paperback]

Lawrence Block

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Book Description

July 30 2002 Mystery

Lawrence Block weaves his spell in this suspenseful tale of a man haunted by murders he hopes he hasn¹t committed . . .

It was all too frighteningly familiar. For the second time in his life, Alex Penn wakes up in an alcoholic daze in a cheap hotel room off Times Square and finds himself lying next to the savagely mutilated body of a young woman. After the first death, he was convicted of murder and imprisoned, then released on a technicality. But this time he has to find out what happened during the blackout and why‹ before the police do.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: I Books; Reprint edition (July 30 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743445074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743445078
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.6 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,259,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Block's fiction is tense and energetic. His stories unfold smoothly and elegantly, with plenty of detail and rich characterization."-Houston Chronicle

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 1969 Block Thriller Does Show Its Age in Parts March 1 2006
By James N Simpson - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is not a bad short thriller, originally published in 1969 references throughout do definitely constantly highlight this is not a modern tale. A pack of cigarettes is purchased for 4c, you can get a taxi from one side of Manhattan to the other for just over $2 and chocolate bars cost 10c are factors in the first few chapters that keep reminding you of this fact. Still After the First Death is a pleasant light quick easy read and is definitely ideal for the commute to work or to read somewhere like on a plane.

In After the First Death Alex awakes with a killer hangover and has suffered another severe blackout where he cannot remember a thing from the time he started drinking. As he tries to work out where he is and gather his clothing he is shocked to see they are covered in red wine. Closer inspection reveals they are in fact covered in blood and the girl with the slit throat next to the knife covered in blood seems to be the source. Alex has been in this situation before and was recently let out of jail on a technicality after four years for that murder. Like now he blacked out after a heavy drinking session. He was sure he was innocent then, but knows no one will believe him this time round. He isn't even sure of his innocence himself.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Block's best early efforts... Great premise, good execution March 31 2012
By Craig - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read 20 or so of Lawrence Block's 130+ novels, and this one has the best opening hook I've seen yet: A man wakes up from an alcohol-induced blackout next to a dead hooker. He doesn't know if he killed her, or if he's being framed. The door is locked from the inside, and the police are coming. And, oh yeah, this has happened to him once before...

If that premise doesn't draw you right in, then I don't know what will. Andy Penn spends a few hectic days trying to elude capture and combing through his past to figure out who might be framing him and why. As you might expect, he's uncovers more than a few secrets and unearths a whole cast of suspicious and unsavory associates.

As crime noir, this book is pitch-perfect. The author has nailed the atmosphere of desperation and violence and futility. The ending is both bleak and hopeful at the same time. As a mystery, it's fairly by-the-numbers but Block is a good enough writer to keep you asking questions and turning pages. It helps that the narrator (and thus the reader) never knows, until the very end, whether he himself could in fact be as guilty as he appears.

The only missing element that prevents this book from being a true noir classic is that Block never lets us glimpse why Alex is so driven to compulsive drinking and whoring. We never learn why a man who had such a seemingly good life became so self-destructive in the first place. Interestingly, Block mentions in the afterward that he wrote this book as a young man, at a time in his life when he battled the same addictions. It is entirely possible he did not understand the demons that controlled his own life, much less that of his fictional protagonist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why eBooks are great. Jan. 16 2012
By skotjay - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This story is definitely dated, and that's a compliment. I love it when a novel can transplant me, and have me inhabit the world of another time. Especially when that time is as gritty and hard as the New York of the 1960's that Block gives us here. I found the surroundings to be as much a draw as anything else.

Very solid story, with characters that any fan of the genre would not want to miss. Novels like this make me glad that Block has gotten so solidly behind ePublishing, especially with his backlist titles that would be hard to come by otherwise. Money well spent.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, fast read! May 26 2013
By Library Susannah - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
A real page-turner... kept me up late more than one night. Couldn't put the damn thing down. :-) Thanks so much, Mr. Block for an entertaining read... will definitely take on more of your books.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars outdated May 23 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I understand this book was written in 69, but we really dont handle anything the way the author made it seem. I am wondering if he was anti war. But if you know anything on how the US deals with hostage situations you wil be rather dissapointed with this book.

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