|How to Enjoy July…|
|Not difficult at all, really. All I have to do is take a minute to recall how long it took summer to get here and it’s no great trick to rejoice in its presence. But this past week has given me more to be happy about than warm weather. This past weekend of fireworks included several sparkling reviews, and it would take a far more modest soul than I to keep them to myself.
First, the Washington Post. Here’s what Michael Dirda had to say about The Crime of Our Lives:
“Lawrence Block, the multitalented grand master of the mystery, here collects his essays on Fredric Brown, Raymond Chandler, Evan Hunter, Ross Thomas, Donald E. Westlake and more than a dozen other crime-writing mentors, friends and admired contemporaries. Since Block possesses an almost preternaturally engaging voice on the page, these pieces make for ideal hammock or beach-blanket reading.”
And Sarah Weinman at The Crime Lady:
“That I’m recommending this book should not surprise, because here, as in so much of his work, is this innate engaging quality that all born storytellers have…My fake quibble is I wish Block had written about Lawrence Blochman because it would have amused me. My half-quibble is that I wish he’d written more on female writers, especially as his Mary Higgins Clark piece was very good. My real quibble is it wasn’t long enough. Which of course, is no quibble at all.”
And Terry Zobeck, posting in an online newsgroup:
“…It was especially interesting for me to read Larry’s thoughts on Hammett and Chandler, two of my all time favorite writers. He has this to say about Hammett: “In sentences that were flat and uninflected and remarkably nonjudgmental, he did much the same thing Hemingway did. I would argue that he did it better.” Not that it matters one bit, but I couldn’t agree more with that assessment.”
Both Sarah and Terry are quoted in full on my website. It’s a special treat when a self-published book gets some love from reviewers, esp. in mainstream print media, where it’s generally overlooked. One explanation is that a newspaper is understandably reluctant to review books its readers will have trouble buying, and TCOOL’s hard to find in brick-and-mortar bookstores. The ebook is widely available at all major ebook platforms, while the trade paperback’s on the virtual shelf at Amazon and B&N. The only online source for the hardcover is Amazon, with free two-day delivery for Amazon Prime members; if you want a signed copy, we have them in LB’s eBay Bookstore.
The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes, published by Hard Case Crime, will be much easier to find—but you’ll have to wait until September. You don’t have to wait to pre-order it, however, and you may want to do so when you read the review that just ran in Publishers Weekly:
“MWA Grand Master Block (The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons) adds a generous dollop of eroticism to this ingeniously plotted study in criminality and corruption. Divorced and retired New York cop Doak Miller has moved to a small Florida town and arranged to work as a semiofficial undercover operator for the local sheriff. Posing as a hit man, he meets the wife of a prosperous businessman who first tries to hire him, then seemingly changes her mind. Soon Miller finds himself caught in a web of illicit romantic—and criminal—relationships. Miller is obsessed with noir fiction, especially the creations of James M. Cain, which Miller knows through the tension-filled, black-and-white versions that he sees on TV. Gradually, Block reveals Miller’s dark history, which at least implicitly provides the reason for his fascination with these films and his compulsion to reenact the self-destructive path of Cain’s doomed protagonists. Noir fans will be pleased that the book contains not a single likable character. (Sept.)”
The last line’s a honey, sweet enough to stick on the cover, but maybe it’s me—I have to say I myself like almost all of the characters. If you can handle that generous dollop of eroticism, I think you’ll like the book. And, because lines like Brand new! and Never before published! seem to be passing through some people as if they were oat bran, let me say once again that this is a new book, that it was written in July of 2014 in a Philadelphia apartment rented for the occasion, and that the first glimmer of an idea for it came to me two months earlier, in a cab en route to the airport.
Okay, we get it. It’s a new book. Will you be touring for it?
Nope. I’m too old for book tours (he said with considerable relief). And now that Craig Ferguson’s no longer entertaining insomniacs, you won’t find me on TV either. I’ve scheduled a joint appearance with Nathan Ward, who has taken a good look at Dashiell Hammett’s early years in The Lost Detective; we’ll be at The Mysterious Bookshop September 17th. And the second weekend in October will find me in Raleigh for Bouchercon. But that’s it.
Didn’t you have an auction last week? Collector books and limited editions? I missed it.
That’s a shame, because it was a good one, and everything we listed got snapped up, often after spirited bidding. But you’re not completely out of luck, because just yesterday David posted an even twenty scarce volumes, and this time they’re all books of mine. Included are first editions of my two rarest books, shown here, along with scarce first editions and unique association copies.
As usual in our auctions, all lots open at 99¢, and are knocked down to the highest bidder without reserve. As I type these lines, only one of the lots has attracted any bids, and it’s reached the not-so-lofty heights of $8.50. I suspect it’ll go quite a bit higher, and I suspect there’ll be bids on everything else as well, but that’s easy for you to find out, and even be a part of. Just click—and see what we’ve got to tempt you.
There are, of course, many fixed-price items in the bookstore, including signed paperback and hardcover copies of The Crime of Our Lives. And, while we have a good supply of most titles, what’s lacking is time. My Frequent Companion and I are leaving town for five weeks, and my indispensable associate David Trevor (who does most of the heavy lifting around here) will be conspicuously absent until after Labor Day. (He’s curiously reticent regarding his summer plans, either because he doesn’t know what they are or he’s reluctant to risk disapproval. Your guess is as good as mine.)
Meanwhile, we can guarantee to fill orders received on or before Tuesday, July 21. And we shoud be re-open around Labor Day.
You want to tell us where you’re going? Or are you afraid we’ll disapprove?
We’ll be cruising the North Atlantic on Holland America’s Veendam. Same cruise I took two years ago to write The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons. At the time, I kept thinking how much more enjoyable it’d be if I had Herself along for company, and if I didn’t have a damned book to write. And now I’ll get to see if I was right, won’t I?
Enough from me. Check out the auction, kick back, relax, and read your way through what’s left of July and all of August. I’ll be doing much the same myself, as long as the seas stay calm…
PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. And, if you’ve received the newsletter in that fashion from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to email@example.com with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.
PPS: I have no idea what the mariachi band is doing at the bottom of this newsletter. It looked like a nice template, and there they were, crooning “Cielito Lindo” at the bottom of it.