Monday, November 07, 2016

Sinner Man -- Lawrence Block

So you've just killed your wife.  Accidentally, of course.  What next?  Well, if you're Donald Brashter, you leave town, adopt a new identity, and find a new line of work.  Brashter, who sells insurance, decides to become a mobster.  

When Sinner Man was originally published, it was amazingly easy to get a new identity, and soon Brashter is Nat Crowley, hanging around Buffalo, NY, and hoping to catch on with the local mob.  He's seen a lot of gangster movies, so he knows what to do.  And it works.  Before long, he's in the biz and working his way up.  Then things get complicated, and Crowley finds himself with a gun in his hand and a decision to make.  Become a killer, or not?  
There's a beautiful woman, too, and a twisted love story (well, not "love"; that's the wrong word, but "twisted" fits).  

Block lost track of this book and didn't even remember who published it.  For 50 years, nobody remembered it.  How does a book get lost for 50 years and then found?  It's a fascinating story, and of course Lawrence Block tells it well in his Afterword to Sinner Man.  One reason we love the Internet is because it can find lost things, and this is one we owe to Facebook.  But you should read all about it, yourself, either before or after you read Sinner Man, billed by Hard Case Crime as Block's first crime novel.  You'll discover that Block already knew his way around and that his ability to tell a story was already firmly in place. This is a taut noir, recommended for its place in Block's history and as a dandy story on its own.  You should check it out.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Sounds good. I will.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

OK, was able to put it on hold using the phone.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I love Block's Matthew Scudder novels and his Hitman series. His Burglar series I find so-so. He is also a great short story writer. But I find his stand alones not up to his series books.