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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: #2,416,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  9 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 Amazon.com
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 Amazon.com
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 What Would You Do If You Woke Up Covered With Blood And Tripping Over A Dead Woman And You Had No Idea What Happened? Sept. 10 2014
By Dave Wilde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
"After The First Death" is a 1969 novel by Lawrence Block. The basis of the plot is nothing new to crime fiction. This is yet another man-on-the-run story about an ordinary, law-abiding guy, who was originally a well-respected professor, who wakes up after an all-night bender in a sleazy hotel room, covered with blood with a dead prostitute on the floor. You say that could happen to anyone. Well, the twist here is that it is not the first time that this has happened to Alex Penn. The first time he spent some years in prison paying for the crime, half-convinced he really did it. No one, almost no one, believes in his innocence the second time around. Would you believe him after he had already been convicted and sentenced for murdering one prostitute?

The bulk of the book is about how this ordinary guy who isn't really a criminal-type escapes the encircling arm of the law and sets about to decipher the tiny bits of clues that could lead him to the real murderer. On the way, it is almost comic the way he sets out in desperation to figure it out, interviewing his ex-wife, her sister, and his best friend to determine who framed him. It gets really comic later when he decides to return to Times Square and interview the street girls who knew Robin, the corpse in the latest hotel room. Of course, with his photograph plastered all over the front pages, he must don a disguise: an army major on weekend leave in full dress uniform walking around late sixties Times Square trying to interview prostitutes without attracting too much attention.

It is a well-written and compelling read that aptly captures Alex's growing desperation and self-doubt as he poses the ridiculous question of who possibly could have framed not once, but twice, in exactly the same manner. It just misses being a great book, however. There is something missing from the book in terms of richness and depth, kind of like a sundae without the whipped cream and cherry on top. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile read, particularly for those with an interest in crime fiction.
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 Amazon.com
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK outing by Lawrence Block May 9 2014
By Dan Krotz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This isn't Block's best work. It needs to be considered within the context of his body of work, which is quite fine. Give "After the First Death a read; it is "okay."

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