(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Lawrence Block is a storyteller who experiments with several genres, including espionage, detective, and comedy caper fiction. Regardless of the genre, he delivers a protagonist with whom his readers can empathize, identify, and even secretly wish to accompany on the different adventures. Block’s tone ranges from the serious and downbeat in the Matt Scudder novels to the lighthearted and comical found in the works featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr and Chip Harrison. His characters are outsiders to conventional society, and Block captures their true essence through their first-person vernaculars. Furthermore, his vivid and realistic descriptions of the deadbeats, the bag ladies, the pimps, the police officers—both good and bad—and those hoping for something better portray New York City as a place devoid of glitter and elegance. Writer Stephen King has called Block the only “writer of mystery and detective fiction who comes close to replacing the irreplaceable John D. MacDonald.”

Several of Block’s novels were (rather poorly) adapted to film. These include Nightmare Honeymoon (1973), the 1983 Shamus Award-winning Eight Million Ways to Die (1986), and The Burglar in the Closet (as Burglar, 1987, starring Whoopi Goldberg).