The first book published under the byline Lawrence Block was MONA, Gold Medal s1085, February 1961. At least nineteen of his pseudonymous books were in print before 1961. MONA was written as an Andrew Shaw thriller and Block's agent felt it was good enough to send to Gold Medal. The cover copy includes the words “sweet slow death” and the back cover begins “Grifter's Game”.
As the book progresses, Scudder works on each of the three problems with varying degrees of commitment and interest. Each of the three cases is interesting in and of itself, but as always in these books, it's the setting and the characters, especially Scudder himself, that keep you coming back and that make you regret it every time you come to the last page. Lawrence Block has created in these novels a world and a cast unlike any other--for my money easily the best, the most vivid and most interesting of any in crime fiction. I've read this book at least three or four times by now, and I'll be anxiously waiting for it again the next time I make my way through this series.
Lawrence Block has won more awards than almost any other living mystery writer: four Edgar Awards, four Shamus Awards, two Maltese Falcon Awards, the Nero Wolfe Award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger and more. He was named a Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America, the organization’s highest honor. (Previous recipients include James M. Cain, Agatha Christie and Ross Macdonald.) His work ranges from the searing noir investigations of alcoholic detective Matt Scudder to the witty adventures of master burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and includes many stunning stand-alone thrillers such as Hard Case Crime’s debut title, GRIFTER'S GAME.
The first time Lawrence Block's name appeared in print was when his first short story, “You Can't Lose”, was published in the February 1958 issue of MANHUNT.
If I am doing what I want, is what I am doing wrong? Keller walked away from doing the wet work that kept him healthy, wealthy, and a little wiser for the wear. He changed his name and settled into domestic bliss that seemed a good fit with a business on the side. Even fatherhood and stamp collecting become his new normal, until the phone rings and an offer he does not want to refuse is proposed. He can always say no, he can always hang up the phone, he can always, but he always does the job. Being back in the game means honing covert skills that Keller did not lose but let go a little soft shall we say. He still loves the hunt, has the skills to organize the job down to the finite detail, and never looks back after it is completed. His wife may be reluctant to understand why he is back at the dance but for some reason she cannot explain, it does not bother her that the construction business is not how he earns his money. Keller moves flawlessly from one offer to the next with a blip or two on the radar and some poorly executed decisions. Overall, the jobs are done and the reaction someone else might have to this line of duty is not held close to Keller’s state of mind. Lawrence Block constructs the perfect story for every character add a touch of flare to their personality a master like Mr. Block can design.