Friday, December 26, 2008


By Lawrence Block
Hard Case Crime
206 pages

As a writer, Lawrence Block may be the stingiest man in the world. He never wastes a word. His writing is lean and crisp, evoking images swiftly and pushing his narrative along at such a smooth, even pace it becomes seductive. After you’ve read a few of his books, you soon come to realize that in his hands, you are assured a completely satisfying reading experience.

The year is 1961 and Fidel Castro, a one time lawyer and revolutionary hero of the people, is now Cuba’s reigning dictator. Five American mercenaries are recruited by a secret Cuban refugee organization to kill the bearded one. For this deed they will split one hundred thousand dollars. What follows next is a fast paced thriller throughout which Block offers up the actual history of Fidel Castro and his rise to power. It is a marvelous counterpoint against which he paints the characters of five very different men and their motives for taking the job.

Hines, the youngest, is looking for revenge. Fenton, an accountant, is dying of cancer and has nothing to lose. Garth is a mindless bruiser just looking for his next pay check while Turner is trying to escape the law. That leaves the only professional in the bunch, Garrison, a cool, pragmatic killer methodically going through familiar motions. Block’s genius is painting all of them in vivid detail quickly and effortlessly. It’s that economy of words again. A few paragraphs and all five suddenly come to life.

I found it particularly appropriate that Hard Case Crime would reprint this classic thriller at a time when Castro’s health is waning and the world waits to witness the final chapter in his notorious life. I wonder if it will be as dramatic as Block’s book?


P.M. said...

This is yet another great early Block novel unearthed by HCC. For an interesting look at all of the HCC Block novels and their original names and covers, see

Ron Fortier said...

Thanks for the heads up, P.M. Much appreciated.

Galaxy Press said...

I ought to read it. Sounds like a good book and I always liked the pulp fiction style. It's raw and straight to the point.
Another great pulp writer is L. Ron Hubbard. Check out reviews at the Galaxy Press blog:

Anonymous said...

Don't denying the talent of Block, but think Castro is a dictator or Cuba don't having democracy is just ignorance. I love pulp, but sometimes I would like my americans friends would know better about history or international affairs.

best regards,


Ron Fortier said...

Hi Fabio, thanks for stopping by.
I'm not quite sure what you are saying here? Democracy is always better than a dictatorship, no matter where you live. Do keep in mind, Block's book is not a political
document, but only a suspense thriller.