- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 5 hours and 9 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Lawrence Block
- Audible.com Release Date: August 17, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01KG4ABC6
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Sinner Man Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
The author provides an afterward explaining how this book came to be written, published, and then lost for more than 50 years.
Calling this Lawrence Block’s first crime novel is a bit of marketing puffery. It seems to have been written after Candy and Cinderella Sims, which I would argue are as much crime novels as this one. Plus, this novel as presented has been revised, perhaps significantly, for republication. Still, in this form it is certainly one of Block’s stronger early efforts from that time period.
One aspect that struck me is that this novel has many similarities to Block’s two most recent novels, Resume Speed and The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes. It is a sign that Block’s style and themes are coming full circle. None of these pulp-inspired novels bear much resemblance to his famous Matt Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr novels. They are throwbacks to the simpler, grittier golden age of pulp crime.
Block does a few clever things with this novel and he definitely has the man on the run theme going here, but the man on the run this time is not some innocent guy being framed. Don Barshter did the crime, but he ain't doing the time. The other clever thing is that the lead character is a chameleon who slips into a new role quickly shedding his old identity. The twist being that his new identity is that of a hardcore mafia hood: Nathaniel Crowley. Part of the fun here is wondering why he slips so easily from being Mr Insurance salesman to being a hard case. Was it such a change for him or is that who he always was underneath it all.
There are also other prominent themes here, including the comparison of square life in a nine to five job and the house in suburbia with the Life of someone on the edge of the law.
If you've read a bit of Block, you definitely hear his narrative voice here and the subtle irony in that voice. There's plenty of action here as the main character Nat Crowley climbs the ranks of mafiadom. It's also filled with some sexy, passionate scenes. In the end, what you have here is a pulpy, sexy, fine story that evokes another era. You wonder if this might be movie material as well.
The fascinating thing here is that Don (who has now become Nat Crowley) spends a great deal of time considering his new identity. WWND? What would Nat do? How would he dress? What would he eat? How would he talk? Who would he sleep with? On the one hand, Don/Nat is exploring what my English colleagues would describe as “the manner in which the persona of a mobster is constructed and performed.” A more philosophical person might think of Don/Nat as some kind of existentialist, believing that existence precedes essence and not the other way around. One shapes one’s personality and identity through choices and these choices can be conscious and time-bound. In other words, Block is getting into all kinds of psychological, philosophical and even psychosexual issues as he writes a pulpy crime novel. I won’t specify how successful Nat is in his new pursuits. Suffice to say there is a good bit of sex, a good bit of violence and a not-completely-unexpected twist at the end of the story.
The writing itself is superb, with a number of lovely one-liners:
“I put on a new suit and a sincere tie, and went downstairs.”
“The coffee was grim—I tried to drink it without tasting it.”
“We drove around looking for the country and we couldn’t find it.”
“I remembered ugly houses set row on row, like crosses in Flanders Field.”
“The dress was silk and it tore like children shrieking.”
Most interesting, beyond the very fresh concept, Block creates a generally unpleasant protagonist and doesn’t really care whether he finally comes across as interesting and attractive or not. Bottom line: the book takes a number of significant risks and still works well, Block displaying very mature chops for a stripling writer.
Highly recommended for all lovers of pulp and every lover of Lawrence Block.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is Pure Class, from start to finish. Genius plotting, beautifully drawn locations, and when the book first drops you in NYC your...Read more