By Lawrence Block

Avon Books, October 1992 4.50
ISBN: 0-380-71575-9

Format: Paperback reprint.

Review by Larry Jung

Readers who enjoy short crime fiction can rejoice at Avon's reprinting of Lawrence Block's short story collection. The stories are delightful tales of murder, betrayal, and revenge with a dash of dark humor. Matt Scudder fans will be pleased to find Scudder on a case in "Out the Window." For those who enjoyed Block's burglar books, Bernie Rhondenbarr appears in "Like a Thief in the Night."

Throughout the book, Block displays his mastery of the short form. Like a virtuoso violinist, Block plays variations on well-used mystery plots. "Strangers on a Handball Court" uses the criminal premise of Hitchock's STANGERS ON A TRAIN. But the ending to the short story is all Block. The story "Sometimes They Bite" has an ending that sneaks up on you. The two stories featuring the criminal lawyer Martin Ehrengraf show that justice can be served in many ways. "The Dettweiler Solution" is DELIVERANCE if done by Hitchcock. One of my favor- ites in this collection is "A Bad Night for Burglars," a story of how two urbane men sort out the thorny problem of one of them catching the other in the act of robbing the former's home.

The chilling deed of murder is lightened by Blocks's comic sense of irony. "The best laid plans of mice and men" is a proverb that comes to mind when reading these stories. Particularly when the plans are evil.

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