From: Curt Purcell ( curtpurcell@hotmail.com)
Date: 22 Dec 2007

originally here:


GRIFTER'S GAME by Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime 2004)

So you're set to publish an ambitious line of classic hardboiled/noir reprints and original fiction inspired by said classics . . . where the hell do you begin?!? Hard Case Crime is Charles Ardai's baby, and he decided to start with Lawrence Block's Gold Medal paperback original, Mona, retitled and outfitted with a snazzy new classic-style Chuck Pyle cover illustration. Considering how many truly awesome novels Ardai must have had to choose from (even taking rights-wrangling into account), there's little point in arguing he might have chosen better; in any case, Grifter's Game is certainly worthy of the designation HCC-001.

Which isn't necessarily to say it'll knock everyone's socks off. Block's a little too good for his own good here; he makes it look a little too easy to pull off a fairly complex story like this, and the freshness of some plot twists may seem muted by how solidly he delivers on genre expectations. What makes this an excellent starting point for Hard Case is how typical it is, in all the best senses of the word. It's a great overture, perfectly setting the tone for everything that follows.

So what's it all about? A playboy con artist inadvertently steals a rich old mob guy's heroin--and not-so-inadvertently steals his wife. There's only one way out, and if you can't guess what it is, take a gander at the cover. So far, pretty by-the-numbers, but that's when things get . . . interesting.

Over at the Rara Avis forum, "Lawrence Block Month" runs through December, so there's still time to snag your copy, read it, and join in the discussion. Highly recommended!

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