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2014 Stories 135-137

Okay, I've been avoiding this, but I'm admitting defeat. I really wanted to stick with one story review per day, but I've fallen more than a month behind on posting reviews, and even with posting 7 today and back-dating them to mid-May, I'm still over a month behind. I've read enough stories to come up through the end of June, but haven't posted the reviews. So I'm about to do 3-4 group postings today, divided by book title, that will bring me as up to date as I can get.

This entry is three short stories collected by Hard Case Crime as supplemental to their reprint of Lawrence Block's novel Borderline. The novel had been out of print for 50 years, and these three stories (well, two and a novella) are from the same period and I believe have also been out of print for that long. (If that's not true, hopefully Lawrence Block or Charles Ardai will correct me.)  I reviewed the novel on my personal LJ. Here are my thoughts, very brief, on the three back-up short stories:

135. BURNING FURY by Lawrence Block  A disturbing, first-person-narrated, tale of a guy who just wants to sit at a bar and drink and not be bothered, and the woman who just won't take "no" for an answer ... and how horribly wrong it eventually goes. The ending is brutal, to be sure, and disquieting to say the least, especially in light of the narrator's repeated attempts to get the woman to just leave him alone. I wonder what the reader reaction to this would be if the roles were reversed (i.e. woman wants to be left alone, man won't take no for an answer, but with the same brutal ending).

136. A FIRE AT NIGHT by Lawrence Block  Plenty of authors have played with the concept of fire/arson as sexual imagery/act.  Block gets into the mind of an arsonist watching his latest act burn ... until firemen get involved. Won't ruin the ending for those that might eventually read, but it's solid.

137. STAG PARTY GIRL by Lawrence Block  The title implies a prurient, soft-core porn tale at best, but that's not what Block delivers here. This is a solid mystery novella: a private eye is hired to protect a groom-to-be from a jealous ex-girlfriend until he gets married ... until that girlfriend pops out of a cake at the stag party and in the dark someone shoots her dead. The private eye character, who narrates, is engaging and could easily have supported a series of his own had Block been writing series mystery fiction at this point in his career. The mystery is also very fair-play, with all the hints in place but also lots of red herrings to mislead the character and the reader.

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