Block, Lawrence. Hit and Run.

NY: HarperCollins, 2008.

John Paul Keller has been a very professional and very independent hit man for a couple of decades now. He’s quiet, understated, self-analytical, and methodical, and he gets the job done. Sometimes he flies into a city, kills his target, and flies back to New York within a few hours.


Published in: on 29 November 2012 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Swierczynski, Duane. Expiration Date.

NY: Minotaur Books, 2010.

I can’t remember the last novel I read that opens with the first-person narrator describing his own death by gunshot. And it just gets weirder from there. Mickey Wade (real name Wadcheck, which is why he changed it) is a Philadelphia journalist in his mid-thirties who has just been laid off in the middle of a recession. He’s broke and immediate re-employment is unlikely. He has to give up his nice apartment and retreat to his grandfather’s one-room efficiency back home in Frankford, one of the least desirable parts of the city, where he had sworn he would never return.


Published in: on 27 November 2012 at 5:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Block, Lawrence. Getting Off.

London: Titan Books, 2011.

It’s not uncommon to discover that writers who are now well-known, even multiple award-winners, had to struggle to pay the bills when they first began their careers. Block was one of them fifty years ago, cranking out adventure stories for the magazines and erotica for the specialty houses (especially of the lesbian persuasion, for some reason), and doing most of it under a series of noms-de-plume so as to protect the literary reputation of his more serious work.


Mendelson, Cheryl. Morningside Heights.

NY: Random House, 2003.

Remember those big, fat multi-generational family sagas that were popular early in the 20th century? This marvelous novel reminds me in some ways of them — except that it’s only about 300 pages long. On the other hand, the narrative is so dense on the page and the writing is so rich, it feels like three times that length — and I mean that in a good way.


Published in: on 23 November 2012 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bujold, Lois McMaster. Komarr.

NY: Baen Books, 1998.

Over the life of this very enjoyable series, Miles Vorkosigan has seen action throughout the wormhole nexus, in one way or another. The major inhabited worlds — Cetaganda, Jackson’s Whole, and Earth itself, as well as his home world of Barrayar — have each had their own novels. The venue this time is Komarr,


Bazell, Josh. Beat the Reaper.

NY: Little, Brown, 2009.

Dr. Peter Brown is a pretty hulking guy for a hospital intern, as well as being a little older than average. That’s because he’s also Pietro Brnwa, a/k/a “Bearclaw,” retired Polish-Jewish hit man for the New York mob, and now in Witness Protection. Being a doctor is a lot tougher job than being a professional killer, he discovers, as well as a lot more bloody.


Published in: on 20 November 2012 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Block, Lawrence. The Canceled Czech.

NY: Fawcett, 1966.

This is the second in an eight-book series that Block cooked up a decade before he invented Matt Scudder. I can’t say they have the depth of character and richness of underlying philosophy of his later work, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth reading.


Published in: on 19 November 2012 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Block, Lawrence. Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep.

NY: Harper, 1966.

This is one of Block’s early works and it’s kind of reminiscent of one of Donald Westlake’s better caper novels — which is to say, it’s filled with well-crafted action and nicely honed dialogue, and it’s also a thorough hoot.


Published in: on 17 November 2012 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lovesey, Peter. The Last Detective.

NY: Doubleday, 1991.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, late of London and now a homicide investigator in Bristol and Bath, is large of body and (in his own mind) larger than life. He believes in the death penalty and the old methods of investigating a case. Computers and other examples of new technology, including pocket calculators and microwaves, are just a fad as far as he’s concerned. His style is to push people until they confess — which got him in trouble in a recent case in which the wrong man went to prison, but he still thinks his actions were justified.


Published in: on 15 November 2012 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Small Celebration . . .

For what it’s worth, the post below is my 500th individual book review on this blog site – that’s a new review every other day, on average, since the beginning of 2010. Yeah, I read a lot. Smile

More than that, there are roughly 1,500 book reviews here altogether, when you include all the earlier ones in the quarterly collections in the menu down the right-hand column. If you’re a new reader of this blog, you may not have noticed those, but I urge you to do some browsing there. I’ve always read, and reviewed, a highly eclectic mix of both old and new, both fiction and nonfiction, so you never know what you’ll find.

I hope all of you will keep reading these reviews as long as I have the strength to keep writing them – and that should be a few years yet!

Published in: on 13 November 2012 at 6:32 am  Leave a Comment