Wednesday, February 21, 2007

$20 Lust (Cinderella Sims) -- Lawrence Block

Since James Reasoner reviewed the new Hard Case Crime edition of one of Lawrence Block's old softcore novels (Lucky at Cards), I thought I'd chime in. The Original Nightstand book was reprinted in hardcover by Subterranean Press a couple of years ago. I like the paperback cover better, but that's just me.

The book, by whatever name, is certainly a crime novel. In the Afterword, Block says, "I set out with the intention of writing a Gold Medal-type crime novel, and somewhere along the way I decided it wasn't good enough and finished it up as a sex novel."

The narrator, Ted Lindsay, loses his wife and goes downhill fast. He quits his job as a reporter and moves to New York to forget. He takes a job as a waiter in a greasy spoon and just lives one day to the next until he sees a woman named Cindy, Cinderella Sims. He knows she's the one, and he meets her. That's when things get complicated because Cindy has a past, and quite a past it is, involving killers and counterfeiters and lots of money. She wants Ted's help, and he's glad to give it, even though it means they're going to have to to some Very Bad Things.

There's lots of sex along the way. It's nothing special now, but it would have seemed plenty hot back in 1960. After all, as Block says, the book was written "to be read with one hand." The book isn't very long, and it would be a lot shorter if the sex were removed.

When all's said and done, I think Block was right. The book's not Gold Medal material. But it comes close enough to be a lot of fun to read, even now. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I guess I'll read Lucky at Cards.

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