The Barnes & Noble Review
Weighing in at nearly 900 pages and containing 83 mystery stories and novellas written over a 45-year period, this doorstop of a book is a remarkable monument to Lawrence Block's equally remarkable career.
The earliest story in the collection, "You Can't Lose," first appeared in 1958. It's an energetic, unabashed piece of pulp that shows just a hint of Block's evolving narrative facility. Also included are the complete contents of three earlier collections (Sometimes They Bite, Like a Lamb to Slaughter, and Some Days You Get the Bear), plus self-contained excerpts from the episodic Keller novels Hit Man and Hit List, as well as many classic tales featuring Block's recurring characters Chip Harrison, Martin Ehrengraf, Bernie Rhodenbarr, and Matthew Scudder.
The 23 more recent, previously uncollected stories that appear here are fresh, funny, and readable. Between the old material and the new, there are so many good pieces that it's impossible to review this collection in detail. Highlights include "Keller's Designated Hitter," in which the amateur philatelist and professional hit man leaves his mark on the national pastime; "Sometimes They Bite," which concerns the lethal encounter between two fishermen who meet and converse along a lonely stretch of river; and "A Thousand Dollars a Word," a heartfelt vignette about the economic predicament of the nickel-a-word pulp writer. Two of the nine Matthew Scudder stories reprinted here have won major awards and become minor classics: "By the Dawn's Early Light," which became the novel When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes, and the superb "A Candle for the Bag Lady," in which Scudder solves the murder of a homeless woman who has left him an unexpected legacy.
For Block's admirers, this massive retrospective is essential reading. For the uninitiated, it provides a vigorous, varied introduction to one of the most prolific -- and significant -- figures in contemporary popular fiction. Bill Sheehan
A month before the mass market edition of his bestseller Hope to Die hits shelves, whodunit Grand Master Lawrence Block will come out with Enough Rope"in Blocks words, a huge doorstop of a thing "a collection of 83 stories spanning a career that began nearly five decades ago. With early tales (1957s You Cant Lose ) and recent ones (Terrible Tommy Terhune ), not to mention plenty featuring series heroes Martin Ehrengraf, Matthew Scudder and Keller, this compendium of sharply written short fiction will delight Blocks many fans, and likely earn him new ones. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Block's (Hope To Die) latest is a fun but daunting doorstop collection of short stories. At almost 900 pages, it contains every short story Block ever wrote. Opening the book are the stand-alone stories, which are alphabetically arranged; the character stories, which feature the likes of Matthew Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr, then appear in chronological order. The collection ends with 12 stories 11 new tales and the very first story Block ever published. Most of the pieces are enjoyable but should not be read straight through; they tend to depend on similar themes and plot devices, which creates a sense of monotony by the end. The tales not about Block's regular set of characters are clearly the best, and a good portion of them would have made terrific episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Librarians should beware that only the final stories are new to this collection, which first appeared in 1999 under the title The Collected Mystery Stories. Recommended only for collections lacking the previous edition. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/02.] Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Most authors who'd just published a 754-page Collected Mystery Stories two years ago would still be catching their breath. Not Block, who here collects 83 crime tales in a package as bulky as a pair of bricks. In addition to all the stories in his 2000 retrospective-everything from the collections Sometimes They Bite (1983), Like a Lamb to the Slaughter (1984), and Some Days You Get the Bear (1993), and a brace of stories featuring ebullient burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, alcoholic sometime lawyer Matthew Scudder, courtroom-averse lawyer Martin Ehrengraf, Archie Goodwin wannabe Chip Harrison, and hit man John Keller-Block adds a dozen previously uncollected items: not quite as many as his Introduction would suggest, but still a substantial bunch. The newcomers include two Keller stories (one excerpted from the novel Hit List, 2000), two cases from Scudder's distant past, a typically lightweight Ehrengraf entry, half a dozen new stories-none of them remarkable, but all with the professional snap of Block's best work-and the author's very first story, showing that if in 1957 he hadn't mastered the ironic reversals that would become a hallmark of his short fiction, he was already well on his way to mastering the laconic, offhand voice that would make the dozen standouts here, from "Keller's Therapy" to "In for a Penny," so witty and so dark. Do all the folks who bought the Collected Mystery Stories need to refresh their libraries with this update? Probably not. But true-blue mystery fans would be crazy to pass it up-except for those determined to hold out for a future collection that tops a thousand pages.
“Block’s wit and propensity for jaunty protagonists are on full display here.”