Monday, September 21, 2015

The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes - Lawrence Block

You don't get much more noir than this set-up: a Florida private eye who's a retired New York cop is recruited by the local sheriff to pose as a hitman and gather evidence against a beautiful young woman who wants to have her older, very wealthy husband murdered. You've read these books. What do you think the guy's going to do?

You're right, of course. He's going to fall hard for the woman and start plotting with her to murder her husband for real, all the while scheming to cover up the crime with the authorities. You've read these books, and Lawrence Block has written them. Heck, he was writing them more than fifty years ago.

Not quite like THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES, however. It quickly becomes obvious that despite its Gold Medal-like plot, Block's not going to handle it like a Gold Medal. Those books had a lot of sexual tension in them, but the sex itself was mostly the fade-to-black kind. In this brand-new novel from Hard Case Crime (officially published and on-sale tomorrow), there's a lot of sex and nearly all of it is graphic. In the hands of a writer less skilled then Block, it would border on pornography. In this novel, though, it just seems realistic, a necessary updating of the classic material to go along with all the talk about computers and flash drives and burner cell phones.

In fact, it may be that's what Block is trying to point out, that our society, for all its technological advances, is a lot coarser today than it was fifty or sixty years ago. Sure, the lovers in those books from Gold Medal and Dell slept with each other and knocked off spouses and ran from the law, but there was still a certain innocence about it. (Well, maybe not in the books by Gil Brewer!) Or maybe Block's just trying to tell a good story, which he does. With his smooth, unobtrusive prose and his knack for creating interesting characters, he keeps the reader flipping the pages with an undeniable urge to find out what's going to happen.

Probably the last thing Lawrence Block wants to do at this stage of his career is create a new series, but I really liked the sheriff in this novel and wouldn't mind seeing him again. Got to be more crime in Florida, right? In the meantime, if you're a fan of Block's work, you probably have THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES on order already. If you don't...well, like I said, it'll be out tomorrow.


John Hegenberger said...

Retirement. Florida. Deep Blue. Sounds like he's channeling John D. I'll have to go see for myself. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally missing it. Specifically, how does Doak manage to first attack George? Ambush him and then shoot him in the abdomen? ...then stage the rest?