cover image The Scoreless Thai

The Scoreless Thai

Lawrence Block. Subterranean Press, $30 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-892284-99-0

In this first hardcover edition of a 1968 paperback original (titled Two for Tanner), Evan Tanner is ""the spy who never sleeps,"" a Korean War vet whose head injury has destroyed the sleep center in his brain. Never having to sleep, Tanner has plenty of time to become interested in hopeless causes, help oppressed groups, learn obscure languages and travel to exotic locales. The U.S. government has used his undercover talents in the past, but in this fourth novel in the Tanner series he's working for himself. Missing in Thailand is his latest girlfriend, singer Tuppence Ngawa, who is half African and half American and speaks in a bizarre '60s jive. Tuppence and the jazz musicians with whom she was on tour have been kidnapped by Communist rebels, shortly after a major burglary of the Thai royal jewelry collection. Tanner rushes to Tuppence's rescue, only to be taken prisoner by another rebel group in the dense Thai jungle. Tanner escapes from a bamboo cage perched in a tree with the help of a small, comical Thai who believes that somehow Tanner can help him finally find a woman who will relieve him of his virginity. This early Block novel is very much of its time, very '60s, with eerie echoes of the treatment of American POWs in Vietnam. It's still a great pleasure today. (Nov. 8)