Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tanner on Ice: Lawrence Block

An intelligence agent who does not sleep, who is then put to sleep for 15 years (that was years, it’s not a typo) and wakes up feeling fresh as rain and looking 15 years younger, manages to go back to his home, is contacted by his earlier employers, is sent to Myanmar to topple the regime there (by assassinating a political leader – Aung San Suu Kyi), gets arrested, escapes, disguises himself as a monk (and so does his companion – a woman disguised as a monk!), incites a rebellion, succeeds, and comes back to the U.S. Do I need to say more?

Of course, there is some humor and political commentary, but nothing more than would come out from a regular water cooler chat.

I’m relieved I’m done with the book; I’m disappointed I started on it in the first place. Lawrence Block has written quite a few books – the others can only be better. But I think I’ll stay away from them. There are enough options in crime fiction, and in other forms of writing for me.

9 comments:

Peter said...

I'll post a defense of Block and urge you not to give up on him. I liked Tanner on Ice, if only for the audacity of its premise, though I found the other Tanners I tried far too jokey for me to get far with them.

Some of Block's Matt Scudder novels and his Keller stories are wonderful. It would be a shame if you were put off them by one book you didn't enjoy.

I admire your persistence in sticking with a book you didn't like. I lack that patience. If a story doesn't grab me right away, I move on to something else. I may have missed some good things that way.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

De Scribe said...

It's been an old failing, Peter. I can't hold off finishing a book I've started, even when I know the book's going nowhere. As for Lawrence Block, I'll take you on him - I'll probably come back to him some time next year and hit a Matt Scudder perhaps. On a different level, what's your take on Elmore Leonard? How would you descibe his works?

Peter said...

I wouldn't describe Elmore Leonard's work; I've never read him, except for the opening chapter of Get Shorty. I was astonished that he could pull off such a long scene entirely with dialogue; it was a virtuoso piece of writing. But I found all that dialogue exhausting. I might well pick Leonard up again one day.

Block might be one of those writers (like his old friend Donald Westlake) who has written so much and tried so many different things that not all of them will please even his fans. I haven't read much Block but fron what I have read, I'd recommend When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes (Scudder), the Keller stories and, for a change of pace, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian.
========================

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

De Scribe said...

Thanks, Peter. I reckon have a copy of Elmore Leonard's The Big Bounce lying around - may be I'll add it to my TBR list.

Maxine said...

Hello, I came here via It's a Crime! I have added your blog to my subscriptions, as I also write about crime fiction (and other things). Look forward to reading more posts. I won't comment on this one as I have only ever read one Lawrence Block book and did not like it enough to read any more. I have stuck to that resolution just because there are so many books to choose from, one is never stuck for one to read (if your cupboards and shelves are like mine).

De Scribe said...

Welcome to Bookends, Maxine. I am about to add your blog to my reading list.

Peter said...

I've just added you to my links list. Block is an interesting writer. He's got more raw skill, better chops than just about any other crime writer I can think of.

If I had to pick three crime novelists as the equals of any "serious" fiction writer, I'd probably choose Bill James, Yasmina Khadra and, on the strength of certain of their works, Block and maybe Donald Westlake.
===================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Material Witness said...

Hello. I'll defend Block too. I really struggled with Tanner, and on my difficult days I don't get on so well with Bernie the Burglar either, but the Matt Scudder series is exceptional, one of the very best out there, and worth a try at the very least.

De Scribe said...

Thanks for the tip, Material Witness. I'll try and grab a Matt Scudder novel of Lawrence Block later this year perhaps.