I first was introduced to Lawrence Block through his column for Writer's Digest back in the 1980s; it was obvious that he knew the mechanics of good fiction writing, but did that mean he was actually a good writer? As I quickly found out, first with his Matt Scudder books and then his other works, he is not only a good writer, he sometimes is even a great one.
Until the Scudder books, Block was not really a big name, getting by more on volume of work rather than bestsellers. Such Men are Dangerous was written during this period in his career. This was orignally pseudonymously written by the main character, Paul Kavanagh, an ex-soldier who, as the book opens, is rejected for employment from the CIA.
The reason, Agency employee George Dattner explains, is that Kavanagh is too much of an independent thinker. With no other interesting opportunities, Kavanagh retires to a deserted island in the Florida Keys and enjoys the life of a hermit. All goes well until Dattner returns with a caper to steal some military weapons and sell them to a willing buyer for two million dollars. Eventually, Kavanagh agrees and the plot really kicks in.
I doubt even Block (who in an afterword, describes how he cranked out the book in just a few days) would consider this one of his best works, but it is still entertaining. Kavanagh, in some ways a completely apathetic character, is nonetheless interesting if somewhat nastier than many Block protagonists (even likeable assassin Keller). There's enough twists and cleverness to make this a fun if not classic read.