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.