- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 5 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.com Release Date: May 26, 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005ZH7QNC
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Grifter's Game Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the heroin and the heroine are somehow connected, but Block keeps the pace of Grifter's Game moving so fast that it doesn't matter. Joe is quickly in love -- and in over his head -- and this portrait of love between the hardest of hearts can only end in disaster. We just don't know what form it will take -- other than that mentioned in the tagline, of course. (I love those floating eyes in the cover illustration by Chuck Pyle, by the way.)
Grifter's Game was an excellent choice to inaugurate the new Hard Case Crime line. Since it comes from very near that period, the details are fresh and natural: phone exchanges that begin with words, Joe's lunch in an Automat, even the mention that "the elevator was self-service" plants us right in the middle of the time -- and this was at the beginning of Block's career. (Marlin's skill with locks predicts Block's later Burglar series, and his Matthew Scudder is an example of what happens when genre-dictated drinking gets out-of-hand.)
Lawrence Block is one of my favorite authors for that skill with detail. His insertion of humor in the story as a necessary means to break the tension is another reason (Marlin's response to a juicer pitchman is priceless). But, in the end, what I like best about the author is his creativity. A book like this could have ended in any of a dozen ways, all of them somewhat predictable, but Block comes up with one that absolutely knocks you to the floor, turning Grifter's Game from a really good story into a surprising and terrific one.
GRIFTER'S GAME is a story of lust, greed and deceit told in the gritty voice of Joe Marlin, a self-confessed con-man hustler. Joe tells us he is always on the lookout for a possible score and is just as happy to have felt victory over someone as he is to have actually earned something from his scam. We meet Marlin just as he skips out on a $600+ hotel bill in Philadelphia where a possible scam he was setting up feel through with nothing to show for it. He's philosophical about the experience, happy to move on to the next city which in this case happens to be Atlantic City.
His hotel trick depends on an important prop to work successfully: luggage, something that Joe no longer had after his disappearing act in Philly. This is really no problem for the resourceful criminal and a quick visit to a train station where he picks up a couple of unattended bags soon remedies the situation and he's soon checking into an up-scale hotel room.
Imagine his surprise when he later discovers a sizable brick of heroin secreted among the socks and undies in one of the suitcases. The finger of coincidence points squarely at him not long after when he meets and falls for Mona, the wife of the out of luck (but very rich) luggage owner. The ensuing affair is torrid with both Joe and Mona desperate for the relationship to carry on further after Mona's stay in Atlantic City is over. It's almost inevitable that the solution to their problem is for Mona's husband to die. What follows is a series of events that get progressively more tragic as it goes along.
A particularly strong point of the book is the speed in which everything takes place. It's a plot-driven story with the focus remaining squarely on the unfolding of events with a minimum of time devoted to building up suspense or developing the characters involved. In fact, by the story's end, although she's one of the two main characters, we really don't know much more about Mona than we did when we first met her. This isn't a criticism, more a comment on the strength of the plot which was able to effortlessly take us to a moving ending. I'll just make a special mention of the ending here and the sense of despair that it evinces which I think typifies a well-constructed noir novel.
I think the choice of GRIFTER'S GAME by Lawrence Block as the maiden publication of Hard Case Crime is an inspired one. Its hardboiled nature mixed with the dark ending is exactly the kind of book that fans of the genre seek out. It also showcases Lawrence Block's talent for writing compelling fiction.
Starting the novel, we had a bit of a typical setup. The con man snags some bags because he's shy on a change of clothes, discovers a box of H inside, what to do? Then he runs into a classy girl on the beach who just happens to be the wife of the fellow who had that box of heroin, and before you know it, they wife and the con man are involved. I started to wonder about the level of coincidence in this novel. Still, it was a good read, a real page turner. Then, the character begins to wonder about the coincidence. Just when I thought I had everything figured out and knew the ending of the book, well... That's when the book bit me in the brain.
There are parts of this novel, particularly in the ending, which evoked gooseflesh. Ellroy commented that Jim Thompson was a writer of good HORROR, and there's more than a good deal of HORROR in this novel.
So, if you like a good crime tale, ala the classic Fawcett Gold Medal paperbacks, pick up this killer story!
Initially released more than 40 years ago as Mona, this is a taut little noir gem that demonstrates the talented writer that Block was even from the beginning of his career.
The narrator is a con man who makes his money off women, but finds himself in unfamiliar circumstances when he falls in love with one of his marks. Predictably, disastrous results follow.
Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary "pulp" novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers. These modern "penny dreadfuls" are worth every dime.