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Originally titled $20 Lust and published under the pseudonym Andrew Shaw by Nightstand in 1961, this early Block novel has its quirky charms. As the MWA Grandmaster explains in the Lawrence Block Bibliography: 1958¤1993, "much of the work in question was bad, and categorically so... in the early sixties I wrote a soft core sex novel every month, designed to titillate but not to inflame, with a requisite sex scene in every chapter." Strip away the requisite sex scenes and one is left with a dark, clever crime story that shows Block's emerging strengths: good storytelling, a bright sense of humor and more than a few flashes of good writing. Ted Lindsay, a reporter for the Louisville Times, loses his wife to another man, then to a fatal accident. He relocates to New York in order to get a new start. He's unsuccessful until he sees "the girl." The girl turns Ted's life upside down, setting him on a path of treacherous lies, deceptions and dangers as they try to outwit the gang that's after her. The sex scenes, mild by today's more graphic standards, are more likely to amuse than titillate. Readers who have not yet discovered the joys of Block - bookseller/thief Bernie Rhodenbarr, PI Matthew Scudder, hitman John Keller, etc. - should skip this one. But established Block fans should enjoy this peek at the author's obscure apprentice work and be grateful that he moved on to create better books.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Ted Lindsay settles for a numbing routine while he heals from a painful marital breakup. Then he meets a woman who can make him forget his ex-wife, and life is once again filled with desire and passion. Cinderella Jones is on the run from a gang that pulled a casino scam to the tune of fifty large. While they were congratulating themselves, she ran off with the booty. She is willing to trade half the money and her body for Ted's help. They escape across the country, making frequent stops for passionate 1950s-style volcanic release sex. That's important because this is one of current best-selling author Block's early learn-the-trade, pay-the-bills sex novels. It predates his Matt Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr series, but readers will recognize the noir sensibility, the subtle humor, the surprisingly complex characters, and the relentless advancement of the plot. The release of this 40-year-old quickie is more of a curiosity than a publishing event, but it will attract considerable interest from Block's devoted readership. And, dated or not, it's still a pretty good crime caper. Wes Lukowsky
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