As a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and multiple Edgar Award winner, Block is one of the premier crime writers of the 20th century. He has written over 50 novels, and five different mystery series. A stand-alone mystery, Small Town just so happens to be one of Block’s best yet! Here, he delivers a mesmerizing thriller that wholly embraces New York, the city he knows and loves so well. Characters include a writer on the verge of a breakthrough, a charismatic ex-police commissioner on the verge of a mental collapse, a folk art dealer plumbing the depths of her own ferocious sexuality, and a quirky lawyer who prefers murder trials because there’s one less witness. And in the shadows of a city reeling from the September 11th terrorist attacks, an unlikely mass murderer begins to wage a one-man war against all.
I bought this book based on an article in a newspaper. The article was discussing authors who truly "owned" the cities that they write about. Lawrence Block was the suggested writer for lovers of New York.
Block certainly fulfills this, he captures the almost bi-polar nature of New York in a way that few authors do and George Guidall's performance is excellent.
That, sadly, is where the positives run out. The story is bitty and jumps around without enough connection. The title and the premise suggest that all these stories will be interconnected and, in a way, they are but they don't join up to make one full story.
It lacks the impact that its subject matter should allow it to have. Maybe I'll try another Block novel one day, perhaps this is just one of his lesser works. I don't think it will be any time soon however.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
I found the extensive, detailed, repeated sadomasochistic content to be repulsive and abhorrent. To make matters worse, it had virtually nothing to do with the plot or story line. Each time I came to one of those passages I would skip ahead, only to find another such episode a few minutes later. This was a real shock, since I enjoyed "Hit Man" and "Hit Parade" by the same author. I'm not put off by violence, not even by gory descriptions of blood and guts, but body piercing and elaborate descriptions of sexual sadomasochism were way too much for me. Not even the superb narration by George Guidell could save this experience. If you decide to ignore this warning and buy the book anyhow, I would strongly suggest you listen to it on an empty stomach, and certainly not in your car. You may not be able to pull over quickly enough.
What could Lawrence Block have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Block is exceptionally able to weave a great story. I enjoy his work when he includes only the elements relevant to the story line or to flesh out the principal characters. The gratuitous sadomasochistic sex and body piercing didn't lend anything and I found them a real turn-off.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disgust, revulsion, nausea.
Any additional comments?
I think I've said enough.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Nothing like what I expected. A very, very long and convoluted story with explicit sexual acts between a wealth of (idiotic) people throughout. I made myself finish it because I paid for it and this writer is supposed to be so talented. Leans too heavily on the tragedy of 9/11 and sex, which is an awful way to make money. Anti-climatic ending, though that's probably the only thing that doesn't climax. Save your money. Maybe some of his earlier stuff is better. I gave it 1 star because I like George Guidall, though why he did this I couldn't say.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
2nd listen...one of my favorites....narrator wise and the story was raw and ribald truth....about the dark and sometimes humorous side of life
Would you try another book from Lawrence Block and/or George Guidall?
No. Guidall always but after listening to him read this, I had to take a break, get the stink out of my brain, the foul taste out of my mouth. Try to forget I listened to him read this novel. I almost left the book half way through, but as an aspiring writer myself, I thought there must be some point that Block will get to. I shouldn't be critical without finishing the book. Fact is, Block doesn't get to a point, unless it is that everyone is weak and completly out of control. This isn't a judgement of what the characters do but rather the way they wind up doing what they do. And the motivation for the killer makes no sense. Sorry Mr. Block, I just couldn't buy it. So, wish I had left the book half way. I suggest you avoid it all together. There's nothing to gain from it, but a lot to loose, especially the hours you spend with it. I've never read other books by Block and this one may be way outside what he usually writes, but I have no desire to find out.
What was most disappointing about Lawrence Block’s story?
His obvious disdain for humanity in general.
Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Small Town?
I would have said: Don't know why you felt compelled to write this book, but put it in a drawer and forget about it. Better yet, just destroy it. You don't want to be remembered for Small Town.
Any additional comments?
Would like to hear Block explain the point of writing this.