Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes -- Lawrence Block

Back in the 1950s, the authors at Gold Medal Books used just about every variation on the James M. Cain themes of lust, greed, and murder that they could think of.  Lawrence Block was published by Gold Medal starting around 1960, and at the same time he was writing "mid-century erotica" under various names for various imprints.  

Now imagine what would happen if Block decided to write one of those Gold Medal novels at the present time and to incorporate all the sex of one of the works of mid-century erotica but make it as explicit as the current century allows.  And to provide a twist that Gold Medal didn't.  That will give you some idea of what's going on in The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes.

The setting is classic: a sleepy Florida town.  Doak Miller, a retired NYC cop, moves there.  He hasn't had a bad life, but he's always felt that something was missing.  He has a fantasy about finding the one woman, the perfect one for him.  And sure enough,  he does.  There's just one problem.  She's looking for someone to kill her husband.  And Doak Miller is just the man to do it.

Miller doesn't mind killing the guy, who's a terrible person, at least according to his wife.  Miller watches Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, so he's well aware of how the story is supposed to turn out.  Will that stop him?

I've already mentioned that there's a lot of explicit sex in this book, and I should add that there's some explicit violence, too.  I'm not going to tell you how it all turns out.

What I will tell you is that this book isn't noir by my definition, but it might be by yours.  I'll add that Block is not the kind of writer who's going to give you what you expect.  He's way too good for that.

[THE FOLLOWING MIGHT BE MILDLY SPOILERY, SO I ADVISE YOU TO SKIP IT.]  The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes is a terrific variation on themes you might be familiar with, and it's both surprising and shocking.   The ending provides a genuine chill.  I wouldn't hand this book to my maiden aunt in Dubuque, if I had a maiden aunt in Dubuque, but for everybody else it's top-of-the-line entertainment.


Jeff Meyerson said...

I'm waiting on this at the library. Sounds good.


Don Coffin said...

Jeff, your library must be more...um...progressive than the Indianapolis Public Library.

Jeff Meyerson said...

There is almost nothing the Brooklyn Public Library won't get, as far as that goes.

Todd Mason said...

Cover painting conforming to currently fashionable lust-induction ideals, even. I suspect I can anticipate some of what you're dancing around, Bill...SMALL TOWN being any indication.

Anonymous said...

"Jeff, your library must be more...um...progressive than the Indianapolis Public Library."

I'm in Fishers (a very conservative Republican suburb of Indy) and our library has it.

Todd Mason said...

Block not being seen as a scandalous writer, and certainly too popular to ignore for most general collections. (And librarians are at times proudly troublemaking, thank goodness.)

Lawrence Block said...

Bill, what a fine and generous review! (I'd say it makes me humble, but we both know that's a state I'll never achieve; false modesty is about as close as I come.) As for the last paragraph, the one you advise readers to skip, well, my inclination is to pop it right onto the product page on Amazon.

I was in Fishers IN back in June, had a fine breakfast en route to the Rhubarb Festival in Aledo IL. Conservative the town may be, but I got the sense that I was surrounded by open-minded people of taste and discrimination. So I'm not surprised that the library's stocking our blue-eyed girl.

See you next month in Raleigh.

Unknown said...

I was afraid that last paragraph might give away too much, but maybe it doesn't.

I'm looking forward to the panel in Raleigh.

Mike Dennis said...

And the gripping audiobook version will be coming out in 3 weeks.

Unknown said...

I wonder who the narrator could be?

Mel Odom said...

Looking forward to this one!