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In Admiration of…. Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder novels


In a timely addition to the series of occasional blogs about other crime writers, allonymbooks author EJ Knight ponders the crime novels by Lawrence Block from which the imminently released  film A Walk Among The Tombstones is drawn.

I’ve visited New York many, many times over the years and, much as my allonymbooks stablemate Evie Woolmore found Warsaw an inspiration for her novel Rising Up, so my slow wanderings around one of the world’s great cities inspired me in my writing. But unlike Evie, the majority of my visits to New York have not been by plane, car or train. They have been in the pedestrianised byways of my imagination, walking slowly, patiently, doggedly in the long shadow cast by Matt Scudder. For while the upcoming adaptation of Lawrence Block’s tenth Scudder novel is being widely praised already for Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Block’s complex ex-cop, for me the Scudder books feature another…

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Lessons via ebook from Lawrence Block

The Liar’s Companion is available as ebook, hardcover, or Audible download at Amazon and B&N

Fairfield Writer's Blog

One evening six years ago the master crime novelist Lawrence BlockLBlock(right) made an author appearance at the Westport (Conn.) Library next door to Fairfield. At that point, among the more than  100 books Block had published were four about writing. During the question-and-answer session, I asked him if he planned to write any more of those.

“God, I hope not,” he said, or words to that effect.

Two of Block’s then-existing books—Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (my favorite) and Spider, Spin Me a Web—were collections of columns he wrote for Writer’s Digest. Block contributed a monthly column on fiction writing to the magazine for more than 14 years, beginning in 1976. Not long after Block came to Westport, a fan and collector named Terry Zobeck turned over copies of 77 WD articles to him that had not been published in book form, and in 2011,

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Pumpkin time…

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Leaves turning, pumpkins ripening in the field, and children creeping like snail unwillingly to school. I was going go treat you to a picture of a pumpkin patch, one that puts a nice seasonal spin on the notion of crop circles, but Vertical Response furnished this properly autumnal template, and not for the first time I chose to take the Easy Way Out. It’s a character defect, and I’m working on it…

That’s the first paragraph of a newsletter that just went out to subscribers. And here’s a link to read it online.  (To get on the subscription list, just send a blank email with “Newsletter” in the subject line to




How work gets done. Around here, anyway.

CatchReleaseCoverA week or so ago I started a short story, and I put in a few hours here and there, and it’s coming along well enough. I figure another week or two should see it through to the end.

But it seems to have hit…well, not exactly a snag, but for the past few days I’ve been sitting down at my desk first thing each morning, whereupon I open the file and look at the story, and then I go and Do Other Things. All of this, I have learned over the years, is part of what we like to call the Creative Process. The subconscious is busy mulling things over, and in due time the results will show up on the computer screen.

But not just yet…

Today, for example, I opened the file and promptly closed the file, and then I cleared a ton of email, tended to my tweeting and facebooking, updated my agent on an editing project that’s in the works, booked a phone conversation with another party to discuss that project, and came up with a couple of good ideas for additional projects. And in the course of all of this, I came to a seminal conclusion.

A conclusion I’ll happily share with you: Nothing so spurs one’s creative energy as the need to avoid essential work. In fact I suspect most of the world’s most important work has been done by people who’ve had other things they know in their hearts they really ought to be doing.

Why else, really, would I clean the crud out from between the keys of my computer keyboard? Or arrange my books in alphabetical order?

Or write blog posts like this one?

Well, not all the work that gets done this way is useful or important, as you can see. But it’s my pleasure to share it with you. And, in order to better justify it to myself, and to deftly split an infinitive, I’ll add these useful links which will enable you, wherever you may be, to waste some time with the eBook or paperback of Catch and Release in what I trust will be a pleasant and perhaps even useful fashion: Barnes & Noble Smashwords Kobo

United Kingdom France Germany Brazil Mexico Spain Japan Italy India Canada

Look at that, will you? Aren’t you impressed that you can order this wonderful book almost anywhere in the world? And do you have any idea how much time it takes to gather up and post all those links?

You can thank me later…


Well, here’s an interesting site:

idahofallsIt’s called eReaderiQ, and it tracks titles on Kindle. If you want, it’ll notify you when a title you’re interested in drops in price. I did an EgoSearch, naturally, and found it fascinating to see all my titles listed, with price reductions chronicled wherever they applied. (I was also puzzled to note, among my titles, Block by Block: The Post Register Looks at the Neighborhoods of Idaho Falls. I don’t know that I want it, but I have to admit it seems quite reasonable at $2.99.)

Even without Idaho Falls—or another intriguing eVolume about Knitting Block by Block, which I can only suppose is about tying those Idaho neighborhoods together—I’ve got a whole lot of titles listed.

Collect them all! Win valuable prizes!



CatchReleaseCoverThis’ll be short and sweet.

Catch and Release, my new short-story collection, is on sale. The Subterranean Press hardcover edition is essentially sold out, although you can still find booksellers with copies available. (I signed stock at the Mysterious Bookshop, and they may have a few left; call Ian Kern at (800) 352-2840. Signed copies are also available, while they last, from VJ Books at (503) 750-5710).

UPDATE: Mysterious Bookshop tells me their copies are all gone!

The eBook has been out for about a week, and you can pick it up for $9.99 at Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, or Smashwords for everything else.

And just yesterday the trade paperback went on sale at Amazon, where it’s in stock for immediate delivery. As you can see, it’s a beautiful book, in the same format and with the same cover art as the hardcover. The price is $14.99, but at the moment Amazon’s discounting it slightly to $14.24.

And Dreamscape’s Catch and Release audiobook is coming soon and available for pre-order. (I did the narration, with a little help from the former Lynne Wood.)

See? I told you it’d be short.

And here’s the sweet part, for the Kindlers among you. Starting at midnight Pacific Time (or 3am Eastern) I’ll be giving away “Dolly’s Trash & Treasures,” a story about a woman who likes to hang on to things. It was originally written for a UK audio anthology, and will give you a free taste of Catch and Release.

Didn’t you write a new novel this summer? I suppose we’ll have to wait a year and a half for it.

Not quite that long. Can you hold out for three months? Because I expect to publish it before the first of the year.

You’re kidding. What’s it about? What’s the title? Who’s in it?

I’ll have an announcement in less than a month. And you’ll be the first to hear. That’s a promise.


Catch and Release—Released!

CatchReleaseCoverSubterranean Press has begun shipping hardcover copies of my new short story collection, Catch and Release, and a beautiful book it is. While the entire edition is essentially sold out, you may be able to secure a copy, if not from the publisher then from an online bookseller or mystery specialty store. But don’t drag your feet; Subterranean’s printing is a small one, and when they’re gone, well, they’re gone.

I’ve just published the Catch and Release eBook, expertly formatted  by Jaye Manus, with Ken Laager’s great cover art. It’s eVailable right now at Amazon (for Kindle) Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and Smashwords (for virtually everything else—Kobo, Apple, Sony Reader, and your pop-up toaster.)

This is the book that led Publishers Weekly’s reviewer to enthuse, “If Block were a serial killer instead of one of the best storytellers of our time, we’d be in real trouble.” The book’s a big one, with 17 previously uncollected explorations of the dark side, including 13 short stories, two novellas, a one-act stage play, and a newspaper op-ed piece, and I have to say I’m pleased with it.

Will there be a paperback?

There will indeed, same size as the Subterranean hardcover, same cover as the eBook, and it’ll be coming soon to an online bookseller near you. Rest assured I’ll let you know about it.

And that’s all for now. I’ve got packing to do, I’m off to Bouchercon in Albany in the morning, but I wanted to get this to you first.


New Broadside of “Keller and the Rabbits”

kellerrabbitsSome of you may be familiar with the deluxe limited-edition broadsides produced by Lavendier Books of Rhode Island. My first venture with them was “A Burglar’s Eye View of Greed,” an op-ed newspaper piece of mine that got its second wind as a Lavendier broadside (and appears anew in Subterranean Press’s forthcoming Catch and Release). Then I wrote an original Matthew Scudder vignette for Lavendier, “Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen,” and that at once became part of the Scudder canon, and appears in The Night and the Music—and in Catch and Release as well.

Now the last chapter of Hit Parade, the brief “Keller and the Rabbits,” is on offer as a Lavendier broadside. Here’s Mark Lavendier’s announcement thereof:

“Lavendier Books is pleased to announce another offering from NY Times bestselling author Lawrence Block. Titled “Keller and the Rabbits”, this short-short story is a study in sudden death by literature’s favorite hit man. A self-contained short story, printed by letterpress on quality cotton rag stock, this piece features an original woodcut illustration by artist Allen Avery. This broadside is a unique piece of mixed media art, looks great under glass and framed on a wall, and makes a perfect highlight for any Lawrence Block collection.

“The run of 100 standard and 26 deluxe copies is officially sold out, but the publisher is making available a small number of overruns on each edition. These out-of-series unnumbered copies, marked “PC” as Publisher’s Copies, are otherwise identical to the in-series copies. The standard broadsides are printed in one color [black] and hand-signed by the author; the deluxe are two-colour [black & red] and hand-signed by both author and illustrator. The price, $30 for the standard broadside, $80 for the deluxe, includes free domestic shipment by  US Priority Mail. Please contact the publisher at or for ordering or international shipping options.”


LB’s September Newsletter

Here’s a newsletter that just went out to subscribers:

Well, here it is, September, and I’m back after a long silence, and I suppose the first order of business is to bring you up to date on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I spent much of the summer on Holland America’s M.S. Veendam, cruising the North Atlantic. That sounds like a vacation, and it would have been, but for the fact that most of my waking hours each day found me locked in my cabin, glaring at my MacBook Air, and when the ship docked I walked off with a new novel.

And that’s all I can tell you about it for now, except to say that I’m very happy with the way it turned out, and so are the handful of people who’ve read it.

CatchAndRelease2Meanwhile, I’ve got a new collection of short fiction coming out, and I hope you’ve already ordered your copy of Catch and Release. The press run is fully subscribed. Here’s the publisher’s report: “We are holding back copies for individual orders as long as we can. Once we ship the initial wave, we’ll probably release any final copies into the large bookstore and distribution chain. The smart move, if you want to be guaranteed a copy, is to order through us.

I’ve never had a short story collection get such a strong response in the press. “If Block were a serial killer instead of one of the best storytellers of our time, we’d be in real trouble,” Tony Daniel wrote in Publishers Weekly, in a review I reprinted in full when it appeared. A starred review in Booklist adds: “Block’s short stories are intelligent and respectful of the reader yet often take an unexpected turn. He plays fair. If you reread the story, you’ll find that he left you little clues about the final destination but didn’t connect the dots. Block is a master of the long-form mystery, and this collection proves he’s got the short form locked down as well.” And Mario Guslandi in Gumshoe Review says: “Block has actually been responsible for my recent move from reading horror to crime (which is making my life as a reader and a reviewer much more complicated, torn between the two genres). The book is a veritable feast for any lover of good fiction and all the stories included therein are entertaining and captivating.”

If you miss out on Subterranean’s hardcover edition, you can still read the book. The book’s ship date is September 30, and that’s when I’ll be releasing the eBook edition for Kindle, Nook, and all ePlatforms.

Will there be a paperback?

Indeed there will, in handsome trade paperback format, and it’ll feature Ken Laager’s great cover art. I’m not sure of the on-sale date, but it won’t be long, and you may rest assured that I’ll let you know about it.

What about audio?

Dreamscape will be bringing out the unabridged audiobook of Catch and Release, and it’s already available for pre-order. And, days from now, I’ll be in the studio doing the narration. One of the stories, How Far, is in fact a one-act play, a dialogue between a man and a woman, and the woman’s lines will be read by the lovely and personable Lynne Wood Block, making her debut as a voice artist. (She’ll also be reading the vignette Without a Body.)

LB’s eBay Bookstore, closed all summer, is open once again, its virtual shelves packed with signed books at (mostly) bargain prices. (Last I checked, there were 122 items on offer, with 62 of them priced under ten dollars.) We’ll be adding more listings when time permits, and probably offering some choice items at auction.

Four Bernie Rhodenbarr short stories have proved popular as eBooks (A Bad Night for Burglars, The Burglar Who Dropped In On Elvis, The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke, and Like a Thief in the Night) and they’ve just now been joined at Amazon and Nook by The Burglar Takes a Cat. (This account of how Raffles came into Bernie’s life originally appeared in the sixth book in the series, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams.)

taboo_breakers3A few days ago I’d have told you that all of my John Warren Wells titles are eVailable, and indeed 18 of them are up for sale for Kindle and Nook. Since then, the eminent bibliophile Lynn Munroe has turned up two JWW titles I’d long since lost track of, Any Way You Want It! and Total Sexuality, and as soon as I can get them scanned and formatted, I’ll put them out there. Their fellows have been getting a good reception, with especially strong sales for The Taboo Breakers. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the subtitle: Shock Troops of the Sexual Revolution. Or do you suppose it’s the cover?

A couple of other eBooks might be worth a mention. The Night and the Music is the complete 11-story collection of Matthew Scudder short stories; I think of it as the eighteenth novel in the series. (It’s also available as a trade paperback an an audiobook.) Ehrengraf For the Defense collects all 11 stories about the criminous criminal lawyer. And, for the philatelists among you, Generally Speaking contains the two dozen columns I wrote for Linn’s Stamp News.

A while back I said to Lynne, as as we returned from an evening out, “We’ve got to learn never to leave the house.”  Alas, I haven’t entirely learned as yet. Here’s what’s on my schedule:

Monday, September 16, 7 pm. As some of you know, John O’Hara’s fiction is a particular enthusiasm of mine, and I’ve been invited to appear on a Brooklyn Book Festival panel to discuss the man and his work. Steven Goldleaf of Pace University will be chairing, and my fellow panelists are Lorin Stein and Charles McGrath. Venue is the Powerhouse Arena at 37 Main Street, Brooklyn. (That’s in DUMBO, my favorite acronymborhood; it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.)

Saturday, September 21, 11:30 am. I’ll be doing a self-interview and Q&A at Bouchercon in Albany. The day before, I’ll be part of a signing at 1:15 pm.

Tuesday, October 1, 7 pm. I’ll be on a panel on writing and addiction sponsored by Writers Guild of America East at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, New York.

Sunday, October 13, 12-1 pm. I’ll be at Gary Lovisi’s annual collectible paperback show at the Holiday Inn, 440 West 57th Street.

It seems to me I had a lot more to report, but I can’t think what it might have been, and I’ve nattered on long enough, haven’t I? And there’ll be another newsletter ere long; as soon as I can, I’ll tell you something about the new book.


LB’s Bookstore on eBay
LB’s Blog and Website
LB’s Facebook Fan Page
Twitter:  @LawrenceBlock

PS: As always, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might find it of interest. And, if you’ve received the newsletter in that fashion from a friend and would like your own subscription, that’s easily arranged; a blank email to with Newsletter in the subject line will get the job done.

Reopened: LB’s eBay Bookstore

We closed the bookstore back in May, anticipating a June reopening, and wound up keeping the virtual doors locked for an extra couple of months. But as of today we’re back in business, still an eBay top-rated seller, with a good stock of signed copies for sale. At the moment we’ve got 126 items listed, and should be adding more in the coming weeks. Some are hard to find and one-of-a-kind. Have a look!