Lawrence Block

Secrets, gambits, and engrossing capers.



Lawrence Block is one of contemporary crime fiction's definitive voices, an author whose characters have gone from plotting on pay phones to scheming on cellphones--without becoming phony. Since he was introduced in 1978's The Sins of the Fathers, Block's signature character, alcoholic ex-cop turned private eye Mike Scudder, takes a snub-nosed approach to problem solving and his battles with personal demons. His 17th appearance, in A Drop of the Hard Stuff, connects an old case to a fresh murder. This week Lawrence Block points us to three thrilling fictions, including the work of an old friend.


Books by Lawrence Block



Ten North Frederick

By John O'Hara


"In his day, O'Hara (1905-70) was a serious literary novelist with a huge popular following. Nowadays he's largely forgotten; the conventional wisdom seems to be that his novels peaked with his first (Appointment in Samarra) and are inferior to his short stories. Ten North Frederick is one of his big books, and I re-read it regularly; to my mind, it and From the Terrace embody the American experience like the work of no other writer. And he wrote so well he made it look easy."



The Queen's Gambit

By Walter Tevis


"Tevis (1928-84) ranged widely in his small body of work, from The Hustler and The Color of Money to Mockingbird and The Man Who Fell to Earth. The Queen's Gambit is the story of a female chess prodigy, but you don't have to know a pawn from a pawnbroker to find it incredibly gripping. It's in no sense a mystery, yet the book has a big following among crime fiction fans, who evidently appreciate a good story well told. I've read this three or four times, and I'm about ready to read it again."



Butcher's Moon

By Richard Stark


"Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was my very close friend for half a century. He was also a favorite author, and to my mind the books he wrote as Richard Stark, about a thoroughgoing thief named Parker, are his finest work. They're all superb, and infinitely rereadable, but if I had to pick one out of the series, it would be Butcher's Moon. (Full disclosure: I wrote the intro for the new edition from University of Chicago Press.)"


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.