Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting Off - Jill Emerson (Lawrence Block)

For the first time in a number of years, Lawrence Block returns to his Jill Emerson pseudonym (used first on a few soft-core sex novels and later on more mainstream novels) in GETTING OFF, a new novel coming out soon from Hard Case Crime. The book is subtitled "A Novel of Sex and Violence", and you should believe that, definitely. There's plenty of both in this book.

GETTING OFF follows a young woman originally named Kit Tolliver who uses a number of aliases during the course of the book. She changes her name because she moves around the country all the time, and she moves around because she doesn't want the law to catch up to her. Kit, you see, is a serial killer who has sex with men – lots of men – and then murders them in a number of different ways. During her life, only five men have managed to go to bed with her and survive, through a variety of unusual circumstances. Kit decides to track down all five of them and finish the job, and to do that she has to turn detective.

Block's usual smooth and highly readable prose makes this book a real page-turner, to use a cliché (and something of a misnomer, since I read it in an e-book edition . . . but you know what I mean). You can't say that Kit, as a mass murderer, is really a sympathetic character, but when she encounters people just as bad or worse than her during her quest, the reader can't help but root for her because Block has done such a masterful job of putting us inside her head. There are a few plot twists, a surprising amount of humor, and some inventive scenarios involving both the sex and violence angles.

GETTING OFF is a very well-written novel (no surprise there) with a compelling protagonist. It's a rare book that will get me to stay up late to finish it these days, but this one did. If you're already a Lawrence Block fan, you're probably going to read it anyway. If you're not, you should give it a try. Highly recommended.


Rittster said...

The plotline (Kit decides to track down all five of them and finish the job, and to do that she has to turn detective)sounds a bit like Woolrich's THE BRIDE WORE BLACK, don't you think? Not that that's a bad thing; just an observation.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has said anything yet, so I will.
Images juxtaposing danger/death with sex/desire have been a common aspect of genre book covers since the pulps.
A long-time genre reader (like, um, me) might think they'd seen it all, and done as well as it might be done.
This cover leaps off the paper-- an image that channels power through circuits so often used that I thought they'd lost most of their ability to deliver a shock.
Great stuff.

John Hocking