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.)"


July 29: On this day in 1878 Don Marquis was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).