cover image One Night Stands and Lost Weekends

One Night Stands and Lost Weekends

Lawrence Block, . . Harper, $14.95 (366pp) ISBN 978-0-06-158214-1

First published in two volumes by Crippen & Landru in 1999, this collection of early crime stories from bestseller Block (Hit and Run ) is a mixed bag. Part one consists of 25 unremarkable tales, including Block's sole foray into science fiction. Offering no defense of their quality in his frank introduction, the author admits that he hasn't reread these stories in decades. Even devoted fans will struggle not to lose patience at encountering yet another grim account of a brutal misogynist who ends up on the wrong end of a gun or a knife. By contrast, the three novellas featuring New York City PI Ed London, starting with “The Naked and the Deadly,” are taut classic hard-boiled noir, with the gumshoe tangling with treacherous women and lying clients. Closer to the MWA Grand Master's usual level, they blend suspense, a puzzle and an appropriately cynical first-person narrative voice, and will leave even newcomers hungry for more. (Dec.)