Apr 182014

Hard Case Crime continues to resurrect Block’s early work, often written pseudonymously, from the 1950s and early ’60s. Gleefully mixing soft-core pornography with a thriller plot, Block churned out numerous of these bound-for-the-drugstore-paperback-rack quickies as he was gaining his sea legs for the more mature work that would come later. This one makes the most of its seedy border-town setting, jumping between El Paso and Juarez, as the paths of a gambler, divorcée, hitchhiker, stripper, and psycho killer come together in an inevitable bloodbath—but not before a series of steamy, yet surprisingly stylish, couplings (“There was a beginning, bittersweet and almost painful. There was a middle, fast and furious, a scherzo movement in a symphony of fire. And there was an ending, gasping, spent, two bodies washed up on a lonely, barren beach.”) Who knew what lurked on those paperback racks, nestled beside the sundries, awaiting the hungry eyes of surreptitious readers? And, yet, along with the titillation, Block’s inimitable craftsmanship shines through, along with flashes of his signature wit.
— Bill Ott

Apr 072014

MysteryPeople has a double-barreled review of EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE and IN THE MIDST OF DEATH:

In The Midst Of Death and Eight Million Ways to Die are both great examples of the jagged character arc Matthew Scudder travels in this series. Block realizes that even when you take that big step in deciding to fight your demons, the demons will often fight back. I believe these books argue that in this corrupt world it’s the fragile, broken, and discarded souls that need saving the most.

Click here to read the review

Mar 022014

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I’m an author.  Which means this is perhaps a dangerous subject for me to write about, but it is also one I believe I need to speak to.  So…here goes.

The Internet is a wonderful thing.   It gives us access to information (although not always accurate information) at lightning fast speeds.  It allows us to quickly communicate and send documents with a click of a button.  Social media gives us the ability to with very little effort keep in touch with those we might have otherwise not taken the time to connect with.  What’s not to love?

And yet, the Internet is also a terrible place.  Because it is a world that is explored from the seemingly anonymous and safe place behind the computer screen, many people say things on the Internet that they would never say in real life.  You see evidence every day of this on Facebook, Twitter, and in the comments of every political news article.   Words that would never come out of someone’s mouth if they were having a discussion face to face rear their ugly heads. 


Well, I can only guess.  However, it seems to me that many people feel words typed on a screen and posted on the Internet have less meaning than those said aloud.  And you know what, if that is the case those who believe that are wrong. 

Words have power. 

I believed that long before I became an author.  Words have the power to lift people up, cause great joy, instill fear or inflict injury far greater than many weapons.  And unlike a misplaced comment said at a cocktail party or on the phone, the words on the Internet live on and on and on, which gives them even greater power.  Which is why I wish people would treat them with more care.  The lack of care when attacking other people’s political, religious or social beliefs makes me want to scream.  Especially when I know the people posting and know they would never choose the words they typed if they were speaking face to face. 

The Internet and the screen we sit behind desensitizes people to the power of their words.  And because of that those words do damage.

As an author, I see signs of this desensitization in the reviews that are posted online.  (Yes…this is where the author in me treads dangerous ground.  I know it.  I’m walking it anyway because I believe in what I say.)  Now…don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe book reviews should be universally wonderful.  What would be the point?  Not all people love all books.  That is as it should be.  Books that I love will be disliked by others.  Good.  We are all different.  We should have different opinions.  Reviews should state what the reader liked and disliked.  Reviews should be critical of the storytelling moments that didn’t click for them and praise the writing that made them read into the early hours of the morning.  That is what reviews are for.  Critical reviews are just as important as wonderful reviews.  Without one, we cannot have the other…at least not in any meaningful way.

But, over the years I’ve seen critical reviews turn personal.  Reviewers not only stating that they hate the book, but make personal attacks on the author.  I have more than one review of THE TESTING that not only hates the story, but goes on to say that they hate me and that they think I should die.  I’ve seen reviews that attack me as a person.  They tell me I was trying to rip off other books.  They suggest I should be hurt or worse because of their beliefs. 

Those reviews are scary.  I stumbled across them in the days before THE TESTING came out.  I haven’t read any reviews on Goodreads or searched out reviews on blogs since.  So there could be worse out there.

Do I believe they really want me dead?  No.  Do I believe they would use those words to my face if they met me at a bookstore or on the street somewhere?  Heck no.  Yet, for whatever reason, they chose to type those words.  They chose to share them with the world and sign their name (or online pseudonym) to them. 


I wish I knew.  Do they get more hits on their blog by publishing implied death threats?  Do they want me to see those words? 

Not long ago, ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth was published to an enormous print run and great fanfare.  Fans who disliked where the story went in that final installment of the trilogy took to the Internet and blasted the story.  That is fair.  If you don’t like the story, you can criticize the story.  But it went so much farther than that.  Lots of death threats.  Lots of words of hate and feelings of betrayal were spewed directly at the author on social media.  She was told she should drop dead more than once.  Because she wrote a book and they chose to read it.


I’m sorry, but under no circumstances does an author deserve to be told they should die.  Not me.  Not Veronica Roth.  Not anyone.  I don’t care how invested you are in the story or how much you value your time and hate that you feel it was wasted.  Telling an author they deserve to die or making personal attacks on them is just plain wrong.   I don’t care how you justify the words…those words are wrong.

Can you criticize the story?  Yes!  Do it!  Jump up and down on it.  Throw the book against the wall if you’d like.  Heck, I’ve done it.  We all love different things. Different stories speak to different people.   Criticize the story. 

Now, I’ve seen lots of people say that they can’t leave the author out of the review because the author is active on social media or because the author wrote the book and therefore has put themselves out there to be reviewed right alongside their story.   No.  Just no.  I’m sorry, but telling the author that writing a book has invited personal attack is akin to telling a girl that wearing a tight dress to a frat party is asking to be raped. 

Both are wrong.

I am an author.  I hope readers will like my stories, but I respect when they don’t and appreciate opinions that applaud my books just as much as I respect those who tear my books down.

But, I am a person.  And I have a child who will someday search the Internet for posts on his mother and reviews of her work.  And that child will see people’s posts that make threats on my life for writing a book. 

Which is why I am asking - how can that possibly be okay?
Jan 182014

Some people have waited ten long years for Lawrence Block to return to the world of Bernie Rhodenbarr. It hasn’t been that long for me since I only started reading the Bernie books a few years ago and in fact still have a handful in the series that I haven’t read. But my reaction to any new Block book is the same: an unqualified excitement for what the author is going to do this time.

Click here to read the full review

Jan 162014

Block fans who feared the Bernie Rhodenbarr series was finished will rejoice to see that the bookseller-thief lives to steal again! All the usual suspects are back—Bernie; his lesbian sidekick, Carolyn; and his nemesis/friend, NYPD cop Ray Kirschbaum—and all are in fine fettle. The plot wanders a bit—from a Fitzgerald manuscript through a dead dowager and on to a whole bunch of rare buttons—but if it’s the charismatic Bernie doing the wandering (and peppering his peregrinations with puns of the biblio variety), who really cares? Certainly not anyone who has made Bernie’s acquaintance in any of his 10 previous adventures. And, besides, if the multistranded plot seems to be unraveling along the way, it makes the signature finale (borrowed, of course, from Nero Wolfe), when Bernie gathers all the suspects at his bookstore and reveals who dun what, all the more satisfying. — Bill Ott

Click here to read the review online (subscription required)

Jan 102014

Block keeps the story light and fun, with plenty of literary references for readers, be it about the current world of bookstores and publishing, or Block making it very clear that even though Bernie might be helping out the police, he will never go fully legit like other characters in the past. It seems Bernie has gone the route of other literary characters: While the world might change around him, he will stay as a young ageless man who always can be found at his bookstore, with his friends there to help him.

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers

Click here to read the full review

Jan 082014

Picking up any of Mr. Block’s series books always feels to me like catching up with an old friend, but this is even more true with Bernie than the others, since he is the first of Mr. Block’s characters that I met. Mr. Block wrote this book after announcing his retirement, and has now declared that it seems he doesn’t do very well at being retired. I, as I am sure many other readers are, am delighted at this, and I hope it means more books (and more Bernie books) in future.

Click here to read the full review

Jan 052014

Bernie is still a lovable rogue. As with his more modern analog, Keller, the hit man, readers have little trouble rooting for a career criminal as he plies his illicit trade. Block is an engaging writer, effortlessly carrying readers along with him as he puts his characters through their paces. He can even perform info dumps with a wink and a nod that make them more tolerable than normal. Better still, once Bernie explains what happened in the burgled apartment, many of the subtle clues he left early in the book make sense.

Click here to read the full review

Jan 042014

Proving that Bernie is for younger readers too, THE BURGLAR WHO COUNTED THE SPOONS is on YA Yeah Yeah’s list of Best Adult Books!

The return of Lawrence Block’s wonderful burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr, 9 years after the tenth novel in the series, was my most-anticipated book release for an awfully long time. It is an absolute pleasure to report that the character has lost none of his charm, Block’s writing is as superb as ever, and the plot is as ingenious as in any of the previous 10. I read this in one sitting within 24 hours of it being released – and that was on Christmas Day!

There’s also a terrific review on the site:

A few years ago, I wasn’t expecting to ever read another Rhodenbarr book – at least not for the first time – but I really hope that this won’t be the final time that he utters that classic line of his. Hugely recommended.

Click here to read the full review

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