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Small Town: A Novel Hardcover – Jan 9 2003

3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (Jan. 9 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060011904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060011901
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #902,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am sure you have heard of an ensemble cast television show, or movie. "Small Town" is an ensemble novel. Block lovingly paints almost a dozen main characters, a writer accused of killing a realtor, an ex-police commisioner, a lawyer, an art gallery owner only to name a few.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
To this point I think I have read all of Lawrence Block's oeuvre. By his established standard Small Town was truly awful and will end my streak. There are several possibilities for his decline. He has "run dry", his gifts are diminishing with age or he is being "trendy" and simply writing for the tin ear of the current reading public. The book is too long (either because editing/pruning is "out of style", that publishers find that it is more economical to sell by the pound or they want to expand the market and put something in for everyone) and too bizarre. Nipple rings and same sex twaddle are best left for the painted windowed purveyors of unabashed pornography. Note that Dick Francis has also succumbed to word bloat but happily to this point not gratuitous sexual deviance. Both Block and Francis used to write a taut, focused narrative but have both have switched styles to absentmindedly stumbling around in rambling subplots. Parenthetically it is hard to imagine any of the nitwits in Small Town tithing their gains (as Matt Scudder engagingly used to do with his windfalls). Two firm thumbs down (both mine).
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Format: Hardcover
First, we have to understand that this is author Block's homage
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.
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