Discovering Lawrence Block

June 29, 2011 at 7:52 PM | Posted in Books, Writers | 7 Comments
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When the Sacred Ginmill Closes

It  amazes me that I  continue to “discover” authors after reading so hard for so long. Less than a month ago I had never heard of Lawrence Block and now I’m about to begin my fifth novel. He’s great and he is fun. His wiki tells me that he began writing, back in the fifties under a pseudonym, in the sex paperback industry and it shows — in a good way.

I happened to be glancing at the NY Times Book Review and there was a paragraph  hailing Block’s latest Scudder novel. Block is prolific and has many character-led series but Matt Scudder, former NYPD cop, un-licensed Private Eye, alcoholic, friend to prostitutes is his most famous and he is a likable character with a real edge. Jeff Bridges once portrayed him in a movie.

I went to my library to see if, by chance, they might have a Block novel. They had 30! How many times in the past 24 years have I walked up and down the “B” aisle and not noticed Block. I tout myself as a curious person – I guess not. But I do remember certain things and I well remember my mother referring to bars as “ginmills.” And “When the Sacred Ginmill Closes” is my next up.

Is Block un-put-downable? In a Scudder novel — yes!


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  1. Thanks for the recommendation on Lawrence Block ! Because of your suggestion I just picked up 2 Matt Schudder novels from my local library: Hope to Die and A Walk Among The Tombstones. I will be good reading over the July 4th weekend.

  2. Tom and Bill, thanks so much to both of you for the kind words!


    • Lawrence,

      I recently had the pleasure of listening to a recording of Grifter’s Game and I was wondering, given the 1st Person Narrative, how you would end it. Brilliant and chilling!

      Do you have a favorite among all your novels?


  3. Tom, tough one. Usually it’s the most recent, perhaps largely because it’s the one that’s closest to me (or I to it) in time. (That would be A Drop of the Hard Stuff, or September’s new one from Hard Case Crime, Getting Off. And I am in fact uncommonly fond of both of them.) I also have good feelings about a couple of non-series books (Small Town and Random Walk). Within the several series, faves include When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Scudder), The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr) and Hit & Run (Keller).

    • Thank you. I will read them with your thoughts in mind. I have “Time to Murder and Create” on deck.

  4. I think this is great ! Hearing direct from the author himself. I finished “Walk Among The Tombstones” and now I am reading “Hope To Die.” I am so happy Elaine and Matt got married. I feel like they’re real people. I am a bit late to the series, but will try to make up for lost time and get through all the Matt Schudder stories.

    • Bill, if you’d been in touch earlier they’d have asked you to the wedding!

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