cover image Tanner on Ice: The New Evan Tanner Novel

Tanner on Ice: The New Evan Tanner Novel

Lawrence Block. Dutton Books, $23.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94421-8

Never one to abandon a sound series hero indefinitely, Block (who recently resurrected burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr) has now also brought back international man of action Evan Tanner, after more than 25 years. As usual, Block has a good joke up his sleeve: Tanner, one of whose characteristics is his inability to sleep, had in fact been comatose--in a deep freeze, in fact--for all that time, and the scene where he wakes up, thinking Richard Nixon is still president, is as funny and sharp as a similar one in Woody Allen's Sleeper. After that, Tanner is off to a new exotic locale, activated as usual by his vaguely CIA manager: this time it's to Burma, where he's supposed to destabilize the government by assassinating a popular opposition figure. He doesn't do it, of course, but becomes involved instead with a beautiful woman who wants to flee the country and eventually, after participating in a guerrilla action, both manage to do so. It's never less than inventive and amusing, but Block is always most at home in Manhattan, and his overseas settings, deftly sketched as they are, lack the ultimate authenticity he finds there. Tanner, too, though endowed with the author's usual wry wit, is not as fully fleshed out as are Block's more recent creations; but this will do until another Scudder comes along. (July)