Whisky Magazine Issue 104
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Jefferson Chase reviews a novel set in the Big Apple
Lawrence Block is the grand old man among hard-boiled crime writers, but even though I love the genre, it took me years to find something by him I liked. I tried a couple of times, but there was just too much twelve stepping in his series novels for my tastes. Then I picked up 2003's Small Town.
This novel is set in New York in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and the shell-shocked city, and its tightly knit communities, are the star of the show. The plot kicks off with the grisly murder of a barroom lush, who was last seen in the company of a minor writer, John Blair Creighton.
Creighton thinks he's probably innocent, but can't really remember the night in question: He'd done some drinking at her apartment. Just one drink, he'd for some reason insisted to the cops, but was that true? If so, it was a technicality, because he seemed to recall a rocks glass, devoid of rocks, but brimful of Wild Turkey.
Faced with the impossible task of clearing his name with his memory gone AWOL, Creighton copes by writing about his situation.
It soon emerges that a serial killer is further terrorising the already bruised Big Apple, but Creighton remains the number-one suspect in the initial murder. And the resultant publicity makes his forthcoming novel a very hot property, even though there's a real possibility he might be sent to jail: He hadn't done it, but they didn't know that and he couldn't prove it. And all of them – Esther Blinkoff…and all the other bidders, and all the people...