Cover image for Small town
Small town
Block, Lawrence.
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Publication Information:
New York : Harper Audio, [2003]

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4 audiocassettes (6 hrs.) : Dolby processed.
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Sound Cassette

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X Adult Audiobook on Cassette Audiobooks

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The author of dozens of acclaimed novels including those in the Scudder and Keller series, Lawrence Block has long been recognized as one of the premier crime writers of our time. Now, the breathtaking skill, power, and versatility of this Grand Master are brilliantly displayed once again in a mesmerizing new thriller set on the streets of the city he knows and loves so well.

That was the thing about New York -- if you loved it, if it worked for you, it ruined you for anyplace else in the world.

In this dazzlingly constructed novel, Lawrence Block reveals the secret at the heart of the Big Apple. His glorious metropolis is really a small town, filled with men and women from all walks of life whose aspirations, fears, disappointments, and triumphs are interconnected by bonds as unbreakable as they are unseen. Pulsating with the lives of its denizens -- bartenders and hookers, power brokers and politicos, cops and secretaries, editors and dreamers -- the city inspires a passion that is universal yet unique in each of its eight million inhabitants, including:

John Blair Creighton, a writer on the verge of a breakthrough;

Francis Buckram, a charismatic ex-police commissioner -- and the inside choice for the next mayor -- on the verge of a breakdown;

Susan Pomerance, a beautiful, sophisticated folk-art dealer plumbing the depths of her own fierce sexuality;

Maury Winters, a defense attorney who prefers murder trials because there's one less witness;

Jerry Pankow, an ex-addict who has turned being clean into a living, mopping up after New York's nightlife;

And, in the shadows of a city reeling from tragedy, an unlikely killing machine who wages a one-man war against them all.

Infused with the raw cadence, stark beauty, and relentless pace of New York City, Small Town is a tour de force Block fans old and new will celebrate.

Author Notes

Lawrence Block is the author of the popular series' featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, Matthew Scudder, and Chip Harrison. Over 2 million copies of Lawrence Block's books are in print. He has published articles and short fiction in American Heritage, Redbook, Playboy, GQ, and The New York Times, and has published several collections of short fiction in book form, most recently Collected Mystery Stories.

Block is a Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America. He has won the Edgar and Shamus awards four times, the Japanese Maltese Falcon award twice, as well as the Nero Wolfe award. In France, he was proclaimed a Grand Maitre du Roman Noir and has been awarded the Societe 813 trophy twice. Block was presented with the key to the city of Muncie, Indiana, and is a past president of the Private Eye Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

(Bowker Author Biography) Lawrence Block is the author of the popular series featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, Matthew Scudder, and Chip Harrison. Over 2 million copies of Lawrence Block's books are in print. Lawrence Block has won the Edgar Award three times, the Shamus Award four times, the Maltese Falcon Award twice, and was named Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Marilyn Fairchild, a Manhattan real-estate agent, is murdered. John Creighton, a writer with declining sales, is the last person she was seen with. Susan Pomerance is a successful art dealer who purchased her apartment through Fairchild. A murder of someone within her personal circle triggers Susan's sense of mortality, and she responds with a series of life-affirming sexual adventures. Creighton soon becomes the suspect in this high-profile murder as well as a very hot literary property: his proposed first-person account of his ordeal is on the publisher's auction block for millions. Block, the best-selling author of the Matthew Scudder detective series, carefully weaves these key characters--and others--into a rich tapestry of modern life set against the backdrop of beloved New York City. Though murder is the catalyst, the focus is not on the solution of the crime but on how it alters the course of so many lives. Block's shifting third-person narrative draws us into each life, including that of the unnamed killer. This is a novel at once profoundly disturbing, graphically erotic, satiric, and above all, entertaining. A fascinating effort by a writer who never fails to exceed expectations. Expect intense demand. WesLukowsky.

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is a rare standalone from the Edgar Award-winning creator of Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr, hit man Keller and others, and takes a number of risks unusual for its author. For a start, it is very deliberately a post-9/11 thriller, in which a man bereaved by the loss of his wife and children in the Twin Towers sets out to wreak what he thinks of as a sacrificial vengeance on the city by becoming a serial terrorist himself. For another, Block, who wrote some pornography early in his career, has created a female character whose kinky sex antics will definitely ruffle some of his mainstream readers. And while an intimate knowledge of New York and its folkways, and of urban character and conversation, has always been one of Block's great strengths, and is on plentiful show again here, his rather improbable action climax seems carelessly tacked on to the meticulous rest of the book. The novel offers a very crowded canvas whose central characters are the sad figure of the terrorist himself; a former police commissioner who eventually sets out to bring him down; a midlist writer who suddenly gets to be a hot property when he's accused of a murder (the publishing scenes will be delightful for insiders); the aforementioned kinky lady, an art dealer when not playing pierced dominatrix; a gay recovering alcoholic who unwittingly leads the villain to the scenes of his crimes; and, of course, the city itself, which, as the title suggests, is a place where everyone is somehow connected to everyone else's business. It's a bold and flashy effort, but its deliberately disturbing elements may somewhat limit its appeal.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Block's latest novel is set in post-September 11 New York City and centers around a serial killer called the Carpenter, a retired man who lost his children at the World Trade Center and his wife to suicide shortly after the attacks. He is obsessed with the idea that the terrorist attacks are part of a series of periodic violent incidents that occurred in the history of New York to renew the city with human blood. The Carpenter is also convinced that more blood is needed. Also appearing in the story is a novelist who is wrongly accused of killing one of the Carpenter's victims, a sex-obsessed female art gallery owner who is involved with the writer, and a former New York City police commissioner who tries to track down the killer. Narrated by George Guidall, this work is an interesting twist to the standard crime novel, with both plot and characters that hold the listener's attention. Recommended for all audio collections.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Small Town Chapter One By the time Jerry Pankow was ready for breakfast, he'd already been to three bars and a whorehouse. It was, he'd discovered, a great opening line. "By the time I had my eggs and hash browns this morning ... " Wherever he delivered it, in backroom bars or church basements, it got attention. Made him sound interesting, and wasn't that one of the reasons he'd come to New York? To lead an interesting life, certainly, and to make himself interesting to others. And, one had to admit, to plumb the depths of depravity, which resonated well enough with the notion of three bars and a whorehouse before breakfast. Today he was having his breakfast in Joe Jr.'s, a Greek coffee shop at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West Twelfth Street. He wasn't exactly a regular here. The whorehouse was on Twenty-eighth, two doors east of Lexington, right around the corner from the Indian delis and restaurants that had people calling the area Curry Hill. Samosa and aloo gobi wasn't his idea of breakfast, and anyway those places wouldn't open until lunchtime, but he liked the Sunflower coffee shop on Third Avenue, and stopped there more often than not after he finished up at the whorehouse. This morning, though, he was several degrees short of ravenous, and his next scheduled stop was in the Village, at Charles and Waverly. So he'd walked across Twenty-third and down Sixth. That stretch of Sixth Avenue had once afforded a good view of the twin towers, and now it showed you where they'd been, showed you the gap in the downtown skyline. A view of omission, he'd thought more than once. And now here he was in a booth at Joe's with orange juice and a western omelet and a cup of coffee, light, no sugar, and how depraved was that? It was ten o'clock, and he'd get to Marilyn's by eleven and be out of there by one, with the rest of the day free and clear. Maybe he'd catch the two-thirty meeting at Perry Street. He could stop by after he left Marilyn's and put his keys on a chair so he'd have a seat when he came back at meeting time. You had to do that there, it was always standing-room-only by the time the meeting started. Recovery, he thought. The hottest ticket in town. He let the waiter refill his coffee cup, smiled his thanks, then automatically checked the fellow out as he walked away, only to roll his eyes at his own behavior. Cute butt, he thought, but so what? If he were to show up at a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous, he thought, nobody would tell him to get the hell out. But did it make his life unmanageable? Not really. And, more to the point, could he handle another program? He was in AA, sober a little over three years, and, because drugs played a part in his story, he managed to fit a couple of NA meetings into his weekly schedule. And, because his parents were both drunks -- his father died of it, his mother lived with it -- he was an Adult Child of Alcoholics, and went to their meetings now and then. (But not too often, because all the whining and bitching and getting-in-touch-with-my-completely-appropriate-anger made his teeth ache.) And, because John-Michael was an alcoholic (and also sober, and anyway they weren't lovers anymore), he went to Al-Anon a couple of times a month. He hated the meetings, and he wanted to slap most of the people he saw there -- the Al-Anon-Entities, his sponsor called them. But that just showed how much he needed the program, didn't it? Or maybe it didn't. It was hard to tell. Three years sober, and he started each day by visiting three bars and a whorehouse, inhaling the reek of stale beer and rancid semen. The bars were in Chelsea, all within a few blocks of his top-floor walkup on Seventeenth west of Ninth, and of course they were closed when he arrived for the morning cleanup. He had keys, and he would let himself in, trying not to dwell on the way the place stank, the odor of booze and bodies and various kinds of smoke, the dirty-socks smell of amyl nitrite, and something else, some indefinable morning-after stench that was somehow more than the sum of its parts. He'd note that and dismiss it, and he'd sweep and mop the floor and clean the lavatories -- God, human beings were disgusting -- and finally he'd take down the chairs from the tables and the stools from the bar top and set them up where they belonged. Then he'd lock up, and off to the next. He hit the bars in what he thought of as working his way up from the depths, starting with Death Row, a leather bar west of Tenth Avenue with a back room where safe sex required not just condoms but full body armor. Then one called Cheek, on Eighth and Twentieth, with a neighborhood crowd that ran to preppy types and the aging queens who loved them. And, finally, a straight bar on Twenty-third Street -- well, a mixed crowd, really, typical for the neighborhood, straight and gay, male and female, young and old, the common denominator being an abiding thirst. The place was called Harrigan's -- Harridan's, some called it -- and it didn't reek of pot and poppers and nocturnal emissions, but that didn't mean a blind man might mistake it for the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In his drinking days, Jerry might have started the evening at Harrigan's. He could tell himself he was just stopping for a quick social drink before he settled in for the night ... Small Town . Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Small Town by Lawrence Block All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.