Saturday, September 13, 2008

Games, Games, Games

Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block

A Hard Case Crime 

            It’s all a con, at least that’s what David Mamet seems to always be on about… and that’s the story of this fast paced page turner from the golden age of pulp… or maybe the end of the golden age of pulp. It’s your basic story about boy is playing the wrong side of the track and meets a girl, who appears to be everything that he wants out of life… and he seems to be everything she wants… only she’d married and her husband has to go bye-bye so they can make off with his money. That’s the basic set up, and it’s a well worn Noir path… but what really set’s this book apart is the end, it’s not the ending that you would expect from this kind of story, maybe it’s that it was from ’61, and it was reflecting the end of the 50’s era, and the entrance into a new era, maybe it’s that Block could see where things were going and was on the cutting edge of where not only crime but social decay was starting.


            I should give a few words about Block here. I haven’t read any of this stuff for years, but he has an energy, a style and the occasional turn of a phrase that has made him one of the modern grand masters of the crime novel. He has that page turning energy, and the first half of this book flew by like a great Hi Energy Garage Punk tune.  There is also a slower side to his writing, and in several places he talks about the hypnotic effects of things, the pulse of the waves, the blur of a motion picture, and in some ways his writing has that effect, it draws the reader in and holds them long enough to get what it needs from them, it’s like the Grifter’s Game, it takes you along on this journey and keeps you coming back for more…. And soon enough I will be back, as I have two more of his Hard Case Crime entries sitting on my bedside table.

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