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Small Town: A Novel [Hardcover]

Lawrence Block
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 9 2003 Block, Lawrence

The author of dozens of acclaimed novels including those in the Scudder and Keller series, Lawrence Block has long been recognized as one of the premier crime writers of our time. Now, the breathtaking skill, power, and versatility of this Grand Master are brilliantly displayed once again in a mesmerizing new thriller set on the streets of the city he knows and loves so well.

That was the thing about New York -- if you loved it, if it worked for you, it ruined you for anyplace else in the world.

In this dazzlingly constructed novel, Lawrence Block reveals the secret at the heart of the Big Apple. His glorious metropolis is really a small town, filled with men and women from all walks of life whose aspirations, fears, disappointments, and triumphs are interconnected by bonds as unbreakable as they are unseen. Pulsating with the lives of its denizens -- bartenders and hookers, power brokers and politicos, cops and secretaries, editors and dreamers -- the city inspires a passion that is universal yet unique in each of its eight million inhabitants, including:

John Blair Creighton, a writer on the verge of a breakthrough;

Francis Buckram, a charismatic ex–police commissioner -- and the inside choice for the next mayor -- on the verge of a breakdown;

Susan Pomerance, a beautiful, sophisticated folk-art dealer plumbing the depths of her own fierce sexuality;

Maury Winters, a defense attorney who prefers murder trials because there's one less witness;

Jerry Pankow, an ex-addict who has turned being clean into a living, mopping up after New York's nightlife;

And, in the shadows of a city reeling from tragedy, an unlikely killing machine who wages a one-man war against them all.

Infused with the raw cadence, stark beauty, and relentless pace of New York City, Small Town is a tour de force Block fans old and new will celebrate.


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Product Description

From Amazon

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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BY THE TIME Jerry Pankow was ready for breakfast, he'd already been to three bars and a warehouse. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars JUST OK Nov. 16 2013
By bettyl
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I usually like Block's books a little more then this one. Not bad but not hard to put down & come back to later.
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1.0 out of 5 stars What a stinker! April 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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, implausible coincidences...presumably the reason for the book title... and a turgid drawn-out ending. I struggled to reach the end of the book. LB, please go back to your previous formulae.
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2.0 out of 5 stars thineagle March 23 2004
Format:Hardcover
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 end until the end? Instead, I'm subjected to "New York" where everything is sex, sex, sex-- excuse me, where is Lawrence Block, the novelist, not the porn expert? Please, Lawrence, don't get senile on us-- get back to Matthew and his problems and those neat mysteries we can cozy up to with a hot toddy and our recliner and lose ourselves in your great prose. Please...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Block delivers again Feb. 19 2004
Format:Hardcover
In many of the novels of Lawrence Block, there is a somewhat hidden character, hidden because it is not a person, but a place: New York City. In Small Town, Block brings this character to the forefront, showing how it is recovering from the wounds it received on the infamous September 11. Block treats the city with a certain reverence and by interweaving the lives of his human characters, demonstrates that there is a certain "small-town" quality to the big city. It's a formula that is mostly, but not completely successful.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Characters are the Driving Force. Jan. 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Sure the ending was weak as far as the bad guy was concerned. I just think the gist of this book is that for a city as large as New York City, the way the characters interact gives it a small town feeling. The book loses 1 star for the "Carpenter's" demise but 4 stars are given for the gallery owner, the writer, the lawyer and the former commissioner.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a Bang, Ends with a Whimper Dec 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Once the murderer is revealed, it becomes dull, since we know the ending. Plus, the kinky sex scenes with the art dealer are embarrassing, juvenile, and actually got boring after awhile, since they seemed to have nothing to do with the book. I would not recommend this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great Dec 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. ... driving home the point that New York is a "Small Town"...I lived there 20 years and I say "no WAY!"

3. Nicely paced, good climax.

4. Some plot threads are not resolved which is too bad because the characterizations were terrific.
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