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Grifter's Game
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Group Reads > June 2013 - Grifter's Game

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message 1: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new) - rated it 3 stars

Michael (knowledgelost) | 279 comments Mod
New month and this time it's book 1 in the hard case series.


David Magnenat (davemag) | 3 comments My first exposure to Hard Case books, and I really enjoyed it. I've read Lawrence Block before; the ending on this one is a slap-in-the-face twist that really leaves an impression.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments I finished this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.
I might have posted a review... I can't remember. May was a busy month for me.

I was delightfully surprised by the final 70-85 pages or so after being so positive that I'd already figured the ending out early on.
Really enjoyed it.

This was my first non-Matt Scudder Lawrence Block novel.

I'd like to read more of his stand-alones.
Any recommendations?


message 4: by Evangeline (last edited Jun 03, 2013 07:38PM) (new)

Evangeline Jennings (EvangelineJennings) | 19 comments Of the standalones, I recommend Small Town.

Beyond that, it really depends on your preferences. He has so many books and different styles.

The Chip Harrison series, for example, is like a post-modern horny adolescent reboot of Nero Wolfe.

The Keller series of Hit Man books are very noir-y.

And his Burglar series is pretty much PG Wodehouse does Raffles in New York.

There is nothing as hard-boiled as Scudder that leaps to mind. Keller is probably the closest.

I actually wrote a blog about Lawrence Block which he was kind enough to comment on favorably. He called it "thoughtful and perceptive". You might find some purchasing inspiration there.

http://revangeline.wordpress.com/2012...


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Evangeline wrote: "Of the standalones, I recommend Small Town.

Beyond that, it really depends on your preferences. He has so many books and different styles.

The Chip Harrison series, for example, is like a post-mo..."


Thanks for recommendations.
As for the blog... Yeow!
I can understand Block commenting on your blog entry.
You are scary good.


Samantha Glasser | 58 comments I really enjoyed this book. Up until the ending, it was a pretty straight-forward noirish story, but the snappy writing kept me reading. However, it doesn't end like you would expect it to. I found this one to be shocking and gruesome, even worse than if it had ended in a bloodbath like I expected.


message 7: by Franky (last edited Jun 10, 2013 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 395 comments I just finished also. I thought the prose was excellent, and that's the reason I gave it 4 stars. It was really compelling up until the end. I really thought I was reading Chandler or Hammett, although the subject matter was quite dark and brutal. The characters were all lowlifes and irredeemable in my opinion, so I thought all were underwhelming and couldn't care which way things ended up for them.

I agree with Samantha. The ending is disturbing, but not in the kind of disturbing that I thought might play out. I literally thought of three different endings, and none panned out. I really didn't know what to make of that ending, to tell the truth.

One thing that bothered me was how every single married women seemed to throw themselves at our antihero. Unreliable narrator?


Samantha Glasser | 58 comments haha When I first started reading, I imagined the narrator as an everyman, middle-aged with a bit of a gut. But then he started talking about his good looks and muscles, so I guess it made sense that desperate, bored women at these resorts might take an interest in a passing, willing distraction. Also he didn't seem to be interested in class. I mean, he wasn't able to tell that the broke golddigger that he was digging was playing the same game he was at first.


Ctgt | 110 comments I agree about the ending, I also had several ways I thought it would go. The ending is what pushed it to a 4 star book for me. I enjoyed his writing but found the first 2/3 of the book somewhat predictable and then he hits you with the ending. Really enjoyed the book.


message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily Gardner | 26 comments I'm just over half through. I like Mona as the classic femme fatale. I want to tell our anti-hero, run away! Run away! Looking forward to the twisty ending you folks are talking about.


message 11: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
The player being played : it's been done before, but it is still very entertaining to watch a crook being taken for a ride. I haven't finished, but I have just got to a point where our hero starts to have doubts about all the coincidences that led him to cold blooded murder (after watching a Hitchcock movie). It could go either way from here: he remains a sap or he turns the game around.


message 12: by Ctgt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ctgt | 110 comments Lily, Algernon, I was exactly where you are now, in terms of how I felt about the story. I'll be very interested to hear your thoughts after you finish.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Algernon wrote: "The player being played : it's been done before, but it is still very entertaining to watch a crook being taken for a ride. I haven't finished, but I have just got to a point where our hero starts..."


It was when the lead character attends the Hitchcock movie and realizes what a swell frame he could be setting up for himself -and that the Hitchcock movie induced this paranoia- was about the point where I sort of fell in love with this book.


message 14: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
yeah, this moment makes the whole book. I have finished during lunchbreak (it's not such a long book, and it has a lively rhythm) , and for me the ending was quite clever, still maintaining some ambiguity about Mona's motives and taking a surprising twist on revenge.


message 15: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
how about some dreamcasting for a movie adaptation? I would vote for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. I like their chemistry in Love and Other Drugs.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Algernon wrote: "how about some dreamcasting for a movie adaptation? I would vote for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. I like their chemistry in Love and Other Drugs."

Sounds fine to me. I like both of them.

Having watched the execrable The Gangster Squad a couple of nights ago -anyone but Ryan Gosling.
Easily the weakest actor in that horrible, horrible movie.


Samantha Glasser | 58 comments haha I was just thinking Ryan Gosling would be good. Try him in Drive. He's a good actor.

I was picturing a Scarlett Johannson type for the girl. Doesn't he specifically say she is a blonde, and that that should have tipped him off right away?


Franky | 395 comments Great points about when he goes to see the Hitchcock movie and the wheels start to turn in his head about possible motives. I didn't even think about that angle.

I was also thinking about how this book could be filmed. Do you think Hollywood would mess with the ending?


Samantha Glasser | 58 comments Today's Hollywood would, yes.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Samantha wrote: "haha I was just thinking Ryan Gosling would be good. Try him in Drive. He's a good actor.

I was picturing a Scarlett Johannson type for the girl. Doesn't he specifically say she is a blonde, and ..."


I loved Drive -both the novel by Sallis AND the movie!
That's what had me so baffled about his performance in The Gangster Squad.

Scarlett Johannson is my own preference for anything that calls for a femme fatale. Lawd but I'm wild about that child.


message 21: by Evangeline (new)

Evangeline Jennings (EvangelineJennings) | 19 comments Mantan wrote: "As for the blog... Yeow!
I can understand Block commenting on your blog entry.
You are scary good. "


And you are very kind. I'm trying to write about Andrew Vachss, but I'm struggling to do him justice without quoting all my favorite pieces from his books.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Evangeline wrote: "Mantan wrote: "As for the blog... Yeow!
I can understand Block commenting on your blog entry.
You are scary good. "

And you are very kind. I'm trying to write about Andrew Vachss, but I'm struggli..."


I read a few of Vachss' "Burke" novels years ago. The subject matter of the novels I read I found just too upsetting. I'm not normally squeamish but when it comes to reading about crimes against children or the exploitation of women I just have a low threshold.

I really admire Vachss' child advocacy activities of the past couple of decades. His tireless efforts on behalf of victims make him a huge hero.


Craig | 22 comments I just finished reading it again. I originally read it when first reprinted in 2004. I must be getting old because I have trouble remembering the books that I have read. That is until it got to the end. Like some others have comments, I also am somewhat disturbed by the ending, and when I hit that twist the memory of the book came through loud and clear. The good news is that I enjoyed it quite a bit (again). In another ten or so years, I might be surprised for the third time!


Stephen (spg-) | 40 comments Another great choice. Very enjoyable read and a clever and unpredictable ending. Particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Mona...


Franky | 395 comments Alberto wrote: "If you enjoyed this one as I did, probably you'll like The Girl with the Long Green Heart and A Diet of Treacle as well, both by Block and both in the Hard Case Crime imprint."

Thanks for the recommendation. I was looking for something similar from Block.


message 26: by Lily (new)

Lily Gardner | 26 comments Ctgt wrote: "Lily, Algernon, I was exactly where you are now, in terms of how I felt about the story. I'll be very interested to hear your thoughts after you finish."

Hi there,
Well I finished it last Friday. Lawrence Block clearly states the dilemma for our protagonist—and comes up with the most elegant and diabolical solution ever. Wow! And I liked that he pays a dear price for his deeds and he knows it. Well done!


message 27: by Lily (new)

Lily Gardner | 26 comments Franky wrote: "I just finished also. I thought the prose was excellent, and that's the reason I gave it 4 stars. It was really compelling up until the end. I really thought I was reading Chandler or Hammett, alth..."

Because one of his standard scams was gigolo, I assumed he was really good looking. But he should've been more wary of Mono picking him up.As Algernon commented— a player being played.


Still (mantan) | 425 comments Lily wrote: "Franky wrote: "I just finished also. I thought the prose was excellent, and that's the reason I gave it 4 stars. It was really compelling up until the end. I really thought I was reading Chandler o..."


I certainly grew tired of the narrator bragging about his prowess with the women folk.
A guy could get a complex.


Bobbi (blafferty) | 76 comments Even though I read everyone's comments days ago, I was still surprised by the ending. The entire book is so masterfully constructed, the characters so vapid. You find yourself cheering for the ways you hope they will screw each other over. And they do a good job of it.


message 30: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
Now that most of the posters have finished the book, I would like to adress something that has been bothering me, not exactly a plot hole, but what I see as a flaw in Joe's planning of the murder: He correctly predicts that if he makes it look like a Mob job, the police would not exert itself very strongly in solving the case. But what about the actual Mob? wouldn't they know fot sure it wasn't them? and wouldn't they make their own inquiries?


message 31: by Franky (last edited Jun 20, 2013 12:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 395 comments Algernon wrote: "Now that most of the posters have finished the book, I would like to adress something that has been bothering me, not exactly a plot hole, but what I see as a flaw in Joe's planning of the murder: ..."

That's an interesting point. You think a character who has done as much homework on scamming as he has would have thought of that.

One thing that slightly annoyed me was the amount of coincidences that pop up. But, the more I think about it, maybe that is just nitpicking.


Bobbi (blafferty) | 76 comments It also occurred to me that someone from the organization would have gone through his office within hours of his death and removed the heroin and any links to the drug trade. Especially if he thought someone had been there while he was out.


Samantha Glasser | 58 comments Does the mob really care if they aren't involved and if they aren't being bothered about it?


message 34: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 4 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 539 comments Mod
They should if the husband is one of the big fishes, as he's been built up in the novel. It could be a case of a competing interest muscling in on their turf.


Cyndi (bookchick64) | 54 comments I read this yesterday, at a white hot pace. Great prose, hot characters and a twist ending. Great classic noir outing. Looking forward to July.


message 36: by Col (new) - rated it 4 stars

Col (col2910) | 470 comments Finished this last week sometime, not my favourite Block but still pretty good


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