Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Book Review: The Girl with the Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block

I've read seven or eight of Block's books and this is easily my favorite. I'm a sucker for a book about grifters.

(Ha ha...)

There's something about watching the machinations of a grifter, the gamesmanship of it, that I love. Block's always solid writing about detectives and hit men and burglars, but I'll take a lowdown con man over those any day.

And the con is at the core of this book. Johnny Hayden has just gotten out of prison. He has made it his life's mission to never go back. He's leading a straight life in the wide-open spaces of Colorado, managing a bowling alley.

But when Doug Rance comes a long with a long con that looks just perfect...well, one more job, then he's done.

Their plan is to take real estate investor Wallace Gunderman for everything he's worth. And they're going to make him do it to himself. But for that to happen, they need an entire operation that looks legit. An office, employees, land deeds.

Watching them build this tremendous artifice is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book. They deal with each problem as it comes, trying out different solutions until they settle on something. Like most of Block's criminals, they're very competent at what they do. The psychological games they play with Gunderman, leaving a trail of clues for him to piece together on his own, are equally fascinating.

Then there's their inside man. Who's actually their inside woman. Evelyn Stone, the real estate investor's secretary. The girl with the long green heart. Hayden thinks she's pretty sharp for an amateur. And he falls for her hard.

Just like Block's other excellent book about con men, Grifter's Game, this one has an ending like a punch between the eyes. Highly recommended for anyone who considers themselves a fan of crime fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment