Archive for September, 2011

Lady Detective

Posted in Ed McBain with tags , , , , on September 8, 2011 by gustravis

One good scene in Ed McBain’s The Gutter and the Grave (my latest Hard Case find) has drunk/bum detective Matt Cordell visit the apartment of a lady detective: Fran West. Busty and black-haired, she tells him she was a model first (not skinny enough to be a fashion model, so she posed for the porn mags) and claims she’s too stupid to have passed the cop exam, so she got a job working for a detective’s agency. Moments later, she lays down her rules. I think these are some mighty admirable rules for a lady:

“Rule one: never touch a drink before three in the afternoon. Rule two: never wear a girdle. Rule three: never invite a man up for a nightcap unless I plan to let him stay the night. Rule four: be a lady. Rule five: except when it’s impossible.”



Introduction to Lawrence Block

Posted in Lawrence Block with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2011 by gustravis

My first impression of Lawrence Block wasn’t so good. He laid down a plot with an ending I could see coming a mile away. His detective Matthew Scudder was dense if I was five steps ahead of him. It was a book called A Time to Murder and Create: a good title, that’s why I picked it up.

So I gave up on Block for a while. But time wore me down on a second chance. This time I bought his first Scudder mystery, 8 Million Ways to Die: a better title. And from what I read for the first few chapters, a much better book. It was clean and fast. But then I got distracted.

Hard Case Crime covers are good for that, distracting attention. And the front of their reprint of The Girl with the Long Green Heart is no exception. I’m fifty pages into the paperback: I can feel the desperation, betrayal boiling under a clean surface ready to explode, the sucking sensation of an alright guy drawn into a mess he can’t get out of. So, I’m glad I gave Block a second and third try. Here’s a bit I just read that I liked very much.

You damn well have to know who’s working with you. When you’re all wrapped up in a big one you live a whole slew of lies all at once, and if you have a few people in it who are lying back and forth and conning each other as much as they’re conning the mooch, then you are looking for trouble and fairly certain of finding it. This doesn’t mean that good con men are inherently honest in their dealings among themselves. They aren’t. If they were honest, they woulnd’t have gone on the C to begin with. I expected Doug would lie to me, and I expected to lie to Doug, but not to the point where we’d be fouling each other up. If there were things I ought to know about him, I wanted to know them now. 

Travis Mills