Welcome everyone! I recently compared a book I reviewed to Lawrence Block and that inspired me to bring back my review for Sinner Man for Throw-Back Thursday. Titan Books has a brilliant Hard Crime collection and Sinner Man was the first of the series I had the opportunity to read and review. I love this review because not only did I read this book in one sitting but I felt that my review for it was a turning point for me as a blogger. Sinner Man is a morally challenging novel that had me on the edge of my seat. I hope you enjoy the review, bearing in mind I wrote it about 5 months into my time as a blogger, and don’t forget to check out the Hard Crime series for yourself.
Synopsis for Sinner Man
To escape punishment for a murder he didn’t mean to commit, insurance man Don Barshter has to take on a new identity: Nathaniel Crowley, ferocious up-and-comer in the New York mob. But can he find safety in the skin of another man…a worse man…a sinner man…?
Long before he became the award-winning creator of Matthew Scudder (A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES) and an MWA Grand Master, Lawrence Block penned this tough, unforgettable crime novel, his very first. But as he describes in a new afterword, the book wound up published only eight years later, under a different title and a fake name — and was then lost for half a century. Now appearing for the first time under Block’s real name, with revisions by the author, SINNER MAN is revealed as a powerful work by a young novelist destined to become one of the giants of the mystery genre.
About Lawrence Block
LAWRENCE BLOCK is one of the most acclaimed and highly decorated living mystery writers, having received multiple Edgar, Shamus Awards and Maltese Falcon Awards, as well as lifetime achievement awards in the U.S., UK, and France (including being named a “Grand Master” by the Mystery Writers of America, the organization’s highest honor).
Throw Back Thurdsay – My Review For Sinner Man (4.5/5)
I picked this book up to read a few pages to get a feel for the writing and… I didn’t stop reading till the end. The actual book is only 187 pages long so it is a relatively easy read and the content is so bold and addictive that time just flew by and I was at the end before I knew it. Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a review copy of the book, I now have another author to binge on.
My Thoughts (Full Review)
Sinner Man was written in the 60’s and the author lost track of the book over the years and it was only recently that the book actually resurfaced and he was able to re-release it. I am so glad that it did come back as I had such a great experience reading Sinner Man. As I said before, I wasn’t planning to read this yet but I read the first and second page and I was immediately hooked. I enjoyed the writing style, the language, the swift and potent plot development and especially the main character.
Don Barshter kills his wife unintentionally when he knocks her down during an argument. Instead of panicking, calling the police and facing the consequences of his actions, he decides to go on-the-run and re-invent himself in Buffalo, New York. Don has to shed all of his previous personality including his appearance, speech, body language, behaviour and lifestyle, and in doing so become Nathaniel Crowley. Nat isn’t a square like Don was, he likes to live large, spending money, getting involved with the mob and having sex with whom ever he wants. The evolution of Don is fast paced but meticulous, he wants to live his life but the only way he can see himself surviving is by becoming Nat.
I don’t read enough Noir and this book told me that over and over. I had not heard of Lawrence Block before I read this but now I am a huge fan! Now I do not agree with what Don did to his wife and his choice not to face up to the music, but it is fascinating to observe this transformation and witness Nat’s journey into the mob scene. The writing style was rapid, concise and brimming with character. In the back of my mind, I was trying to work out how a man could pull of this sort of stunt, but Block has an answer for everything and is so convincing in his writing that I ended up just enjoying the ride.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about Sinner Man. It is definitely not for everyone, there are mature themes like violence, murder and abuse, but it caters to readers of crime/noir and being over 50 years old means it most definitely helped define Lawrence Block’s writing and in turn the noir we read today. Nathaniel Crowley is the heart and soul of this book and Block got his development spot on. I was amazed and bewildered by his choice just to drop who he was and become someone new and I was also mesmerised by his unwavering commitment to this completely new person occupying the same body as Don.
I have given this book 4.5 stars because I had such a great reading experience with this book, I sat and read it in one go and I was left wanting more. I took a 0.5 off as Sinner Man is not for everyone due to the harsher tones, but I do believe the people who seek out this genre of book will have a great time with it.
Thanks for stopping by to check out my most recent Throw Back Thursday here on Always Trust In Books. I like sharing my old reviews with everyone as it is nice to revel in my progression as a reviewer. Yes I know I ramble much more than I did back then but I am okay with that. I love to talk books so it suits me well. Sinner Man doesn’t quite fit in with modern ideals but as a novel I was blown away by Block’s writing. I have been meaning to get back into his fiction so this is the perfect excuse.