Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Dead Girl Blues

Dead Girl BluesDead Girl Blues by Lawrence Block
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1968, Buddy got away with a horrible crime and went on the run. When will his past inevitably catch up with him?

A while back, Lawrence Block sent me a PDF of this, asking if I might be interested in reviewing it. When your favorite living crime writer sends you something, you read it ASAP. Since we have a toddler running around, constantly shoving things into his mouth and plowing into things head first, ASAP wound up taking longer than expected.

The old dog still has quite a few tricks left in him, it seems. This was a gripping read. While Buddy isn't a sympathetic character, having killed a woman, having sex with her still warm body, and going on the lam under an assumed name, you wind up understanding him and even liking him just a little bit.

Does one horrible crime make someone an evil monster, even decades after the fact? That's the question Lawrence Block is posing in this one. Buddy assumes the name of a kid that died years earlier and lives a normal, full life for decades, not exactly looking over his shoulder constantly but with an awareness that the check is going to need to be paid one of these days.

The thing about Buddy is that he's not like a Jim Thompson sociopath where he's just a drink and some cross words away from hacking up his family. He's got his urges under control and runs a hardware store. He has a wife and kids. Huh, I just realized Buddy's assumed name is John James Thompson.

As with all Lawrence Block books, he wields misdirection like an expect surgeon with a scalpel. He even mentions Chekov's Gun when Thompson's looking at his revolver! I thought his goose was cooked for sure a couple times before the ending.

Dead Girl Blues is one of the more powerful Lawrence Block books in recent years. If it's his swan song, it's a worthy one. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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