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Lawrence Block's novels are full of eccentric characters and dastardly deeds. His latest book, Catch and Release, is a collection of 17 stories featuring serial killers, tough guys, and even some of his famous characters from his books like gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr and alcoholic private detective Matt Scudder.
Over the course of these pages, Block takes the reader into the darkest places of the criminal mind. There are moments when revenge, lust and greed spill into bloodshed, but Block is a veteran of the genre and finds the humor in this thing we call life. I found myself chuckling more than once while reading, and I'm sure Mr. Block had a hoot while writing.
There are a few stories in this collection that stand out. The first is the title piece in which a man likens picking up women to catch-and-release fishing. A lot of the time he lets them go, revelling in the beauty of seeing something go free. But sometimes he comes upon an especially appealing catch he just has to keep for himself.
In "Dolly's Trash and Treasures" social services visit a compulsive hoarder who keeps disturbing secrets hidden in her piles of trash. The dialogue is snappy and the story is delightfully twisted. It reminded me of something Stephen King would write.
"A Vision In White" follows the mad thoughts of an obsessed tennis fan who watches his favorite female player win and lose on the pro circuit. It's a well-written yarn in that you know where it's going yet are still surprised by the ending.
If you're a fan of Lawrence Block you're going to love the book. If you like the crime genre, I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy weekend.