Cinderella Sims Hardcover – Jun 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story is pure pulp; in fact, it reminded me a lot of Robert Silverberg’s Blood on the Mink, but the writing is a cut above what you may expect. Several passages sparkle with wit and irony (such as an early morning encounter with a nymphomaniac that can only be stopped by knocking her unconscious) or desperate noir atmosphere (such as when Ted rapes his wife to get even with her for leaving him). As a whole, it is not quite up to the standards of some of Block’s early masterpieces like GRIFTER’S GAME and AFTER THE FIRST DEATH, but it is easy to see the quality of his writing (and imagination!) shining through in places.
Block writes in his afterword this was written for Gold Medal books and would have been the first or second book to carry his real name. However, somewhere down the line he gave up on it and decided to sex it up and sell it to a less reputable publisher. This shows in the final two chapters. While I was pleased the story tried to avoid the common morality tale tropes, Block giving such an easy happy ending to these two characters who had done so many bad things seemed ill-planned. He should have at least gone for a more bittersweet finale.
The novel was republished once in the 1970’s, with the author’s preferred title, but without his name, knowledge, or permission. It might have remained in obscurity forever had not Subterranean Press rediscovered it in 2002 and given it a proper hardcover treatment.
This one is worth a look for fans of pulp novels and it goes without saying a must-have for Lawrence Block aficionados.