FORGOTTEN BOOKS: DEATH PULLS A DOUBLE CROSS!
AKA: COWARD’S KISS
I’m not sure how any book by Lawrence Block can be considered forgotten. The man has become such a literary icon even his reprints have reprints – deservedly giving his novels more lives than a cat lady’s crew. Still, an occasional title finds itself overshadowed by newer titles and/or pulp reprints of suitably sordid titles from Blocks notorious past.
Death Pulls A Double Cross, a gold medal entry from 1961, reprinted and retitled as Coward’s Kiss is an under-the- radar title from Block deserving of a closer look.
Ed London is the urban sleuth featured – a pipe smoking private eye with a Ph.D. and a taste for chamber music. Right away, we know this isn’t a precursor to the introspective and gritty Matt Scudder. It is also clear, Block was a young writer here learning as he went along, snagging bits and pieces from Hammett and Chandler to round out his story.
London jumps right into the mix when his brother-in-law finds himself in a pinch with his dead mistress – not only does he not want to be accused of the murder, but he doesn’t want his wife (London’s sister) to find out he’s been cheating on her. Yikes! Then there’s the statue of a Maltese falcon, err . . . I mean a briefcase, err . . . the maguffin . . . whatever . . . assorted quirky thugs are after brandishing guns and threats.
DEATH PULLS A DOUBLE CROSS
New York City private investigator Ed London has a problem – or rather, the problem is his brother-in-law's. Jack Enright's mistress, a woman with secrets of her own, has been shot to death in the apartment that he pays for. But when the body, moved by London to Central Park, is finally identified, London knows he must act quickly to find her killer – before the killer and the police find him.
This is all good fun, and while Block hasn’t revisited Ed London it might be fun to see him resurrected in the hands of the master Block has become. You can check out Death Pulls A Double Cross under it’s Coward’s Kiss pseudonym via Amazon’s Kindle edition.