Harper Collins has recently reissued in one affordable trade these two collections originally put together by Crippen & Landru. They collect Lawrence Block's early short stories, from 1958 to 1962, fiction that was published in venues such as MANHUNT, TRAPPED, and GUILTY, among other places. Also included are the Ed London novellas from MAN'S MAGAZINE. As such it's a great chronicle of the progress of Block's writing, as well as a darn fun read. The early short-shorts can be cliche (but were they then?), seem to have a preponderance for rape as a plot device, and almost always have a blond with shoulder length hair named Rita. But many of the stories are top-notch, well-written little gems that show Block's talent for interesting characterization and captivating plotting.
I am not a huge Block fan, having read maybe ten of his novels, and purchased this on a whim, but I highly recommend it. The stories hit the right notes and I devoured this collection quickly and with great fervor.
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