The other day I commented on Lawrence Block's $20 Lust, reprinted as Cinderella Sims. Block started out to write a Gold Medal crime novel, figured this one didn't quite cut the mustard, and published it as soft-core porn. Now Hard Case Crime has reprinted another of Block's old soft-core novels, Lucky at Cards (aka The Sex Shuffle). This one comes a lot closer to being a Gold Medal book, I think, than Cinderella Sims.
For one thing, there's a lot less sex. Cinderella Sims has a lot of sex, and the scenes are considerably longer and more explicit than those in Lucky at Cards. Another thing is that the background in Lucky is a lot more carefully worked out and believable than the one in Cinderella. All the stuff about poker and gin sounds exactly right, and the setting is as convincing as in anything Block has done.
With a little tweaking, especially toward the end, this book would have fit right into the Gold Medal line. I wonder if Block tried it there and it just didn't fly for some reason. At any rate, it's great to have this new edition on the shelves. Check it out.