Small Town: A Novel Hardcover – Jan 9 2003
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A solid craftsman with five bestselling series under his belt as well as numerous standalone mysteries and short-story collections to his credit, Lawrence Block breaks new ground with a resonant, compelling thriller about one man's response to the Twin Towers tragedy--an insane yet totally comprehensible, seemingly unconnected string of serial murders, or, as the killer calls them, "sacrifices" to the city he believes will be reborn out of the ashes of destruction. Block, a New Yorker born and bred, has penned a paean to the Manhattan he knows and loves, and created a cast of fascinating characters whose lives are touched by the killings. Among the most interesting are a woman whose sexual obsessions ensnare a former police commissioner who's being groomed for higher political office, a crime novelist uncertain about his own culpability in the so-called Carpenter Killings, and a gay housecleaner whose clients keep ending up dead. This may be Block's best novel to date--it's certainly his most erotic and astonishing one, and it will keep you going until the last extraordinary page. A mesmerizing take on New York after 9/11, this solidly paced, brilliantly executed thriller deserves all the attention it will surely receive. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
This is a rare standalone from the Edgar Award-winning creator of Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr, hit man Keller and others, and takes a number of risks unusual for its author. For a start, it is very deliberately a post-9/11 thriller, in which a man bereaved by the loss of his wife and children in the Twin Towers sets out to wreak what he thinks of as a sacrificial vengeance on the city by becoming a serial terrorist himself. For another, Block, who wrote some pornography early in his career, has created a female character whose kinky sex antics will definitely ruffle some of his mainstream readers. And while an intimate knowledge of New York and its folkways, and of urban character and conversation, has always been one of Block's great strengths, and is on plentiful show again here, his rather improbable action climax seems carelessly tacked on to the meticulous rest of the book. The novel offers a very crowded canvas whose central characters are the sad figure of the terrorist himself; a former police commissioner who eventually sets out to bring him down; a midlist writer who suddenly gets to be a hot property when he's accused of a murder (the publishing scenes will be delightful for insiders); the aforementioned kinky lady, an art dealer when not playing pierced dominatrix; a gay recovering alcoholic who unwittingly leads the villain to the scenes of his crimes; and, of course, the city itself, which, as the title suggests, is a place where everyone is somehow connected to everyone else's business. It's a bold and flashy effort, but its deliberately disturbing elements may somewhat limit its appeal.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a long-time fan of Block, this book reminded me of his many books on the art of writing. First, because of the good writing that once again indicates he's an author who knows his craft. Second, because in a couple of those books he discusses writing soft porn early in his career, and this novel does have a level of sexual explicitness that is unusual for most of his mysteries. Third, because one of his characters is a writer, and Block gives a behind-the-scenes look at what such a life could be like.
The story itself involves a serial killer whose family died as a result of 9/11 and now is driven by a delusion that the city itself requires sacrifices. The two principal characters are the writer mentioned above who is suspected of one of the killer's murders and an art gallery owner whose sexual addiction drives her to all sorts of interesting behavior, much of which is described in great detail. Although never directly involved in the life of the killer, she does become entangled in the lives he has affected.
In tone, this is reminiscent of Block's Matthew Scudder novels, which is a good thing, since Block is at best with that series of novels. As one of his rare excursions into non-series fiction, this is likely to please many of his fans; although not perfect, it is entertaining.
This is a mystery/thriller in name but it is so much more. It is a magnum opus, not implying it is or should be Block's last novel but it just covers so many subplots and themes. The reader is treated not only to a suspenseful exciting story, but also to an inside track of a writer's life. The latter allows Block to suggest a theme so the reader ponders the whole universe of fiction, memory and imagination. One character off-handedly comments how any one is capable of murder and in the context of this tale one has to wonder how honest is that statement.
This was my first Block novel so I have nothing to compare it to per se, and am not sure how capable I am of conveying his range as a writer, in this a love letter at heart to the city of New York.
to his favorite place in the world, New York City, and the story
here concerns the lives of a multitude of people following the
9/11 terror attack.
The title comes from Block's premise that even New York can be
a "small town" in some respects, and even though that stretches
our imagination, he manages to do a very good job of weaving
all these individual stories into a coherent novel.
The point of the novel, the one thing that really keeps us
moving forward through the story, wanting more, is that someone
is killing people apparently at random, at an ever-increasing
pace, and the people whose lives are directly affected by the
killings are connected in a "small-town" way. Those affected
most are eating at the same restaurants, visting the same art
galleries, waving at old friends, talking to the same people,
and even-amazingly-having sexual relations with the same
There are some odd points of view at work here, but Block is a
master at putting them all together so they work, and he is an
experienced story-teller whose skills are revealed here.
This is a very good, moving and fast-paced story whose multiple
characters are all interesting.
Even if New York isn't your favorite city, this novel almost
makes you wish you could be having dinner there with some friends, including some of the characters in this story.
You need to read this one.
Most recent customer reviews
Was hooked on a preview in one of Block's previous books and ordered the book so I could read the whole story - wasn't disappointed.Published 11 months ago by dufferingirl
I usually like Block's books a little more then this one. Not bad but not hard to put down & come back to later.Published on Nov. 16 2013 by bettyl
Hard to believe that an author with such strong credentials wrote this mess. Improbable plot, thoroughly unlikeable, flat characters, excessive boring, badly-described, kinky sex,... Read morePublished on April 17 2004
I'm a real Block fan, but where this book was concerned, I just wanted it to end. Where is the Block who gave me those concise Matt Scudder books where I was hooked for hours on... Read morePublished on March 22 2004 by Robert S. Hunsberger
I was unsure of this book when I bought it because of the reviews. However, I found this book interesting based on the strength of its characters. Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2004 by Scott A. Misko
Best book I've read in years. A little ashamed to admit it with all the strange sex etc, but this is a fabulous book. Brilliant.Published on Jan. 1 2004
This book started out in a fascinating way - a janitor discovers a body, a writer is possibly guilty (but doesn't remember the crime), etc., but then goes downhill fast. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2003
1. A lot of graphic sex scenes that just got boring after a while, I didn't mind, but without pictures, they didn't really add anything to the story.
2. ... Read more