Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Pulpy Tagline!: "From the top of her beautiful, brilliant head, to the pit of her merciless soul, she was filled with larceny." (Gold Medal edition)

Everyone likes reading about con artists. Stories about people using their brains and wits as weapons to fool someone and get away with it are pretty hard to resist. In this early novel by master Lawrence Block, John Hayden is a skilled confidence man who has just gotten out of San Quentin and has decided to put it all behind him and hang up his grifter's cap. That is until he gets approached to be a part of the mother of all long cons. A long con so sweet that even as his conscience tells him he should live a quiet life managing a bowling alley, the gratification of pulling it off is just something he can't resist.

Block pays such a great attention to details of the inner-workings of such an elaborate hustle; it was such a pleasure to read. The con is super complex but I was never confused and that's a testament to Block's control of his material. I'd recommend this for all lovers of classic crime and noir. It's definitely a slow build-up where you'll get engulfed in their set-up and ache to see how they pull it off. But then once the twists start flying, so will the pages!

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