Lust Slum – Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Midnight Reader #416)

A sleek, hardboiled crime novel that has Lawrence Block’s early (and later) style all over it.

Told in the first person by big a big tough guy named Sylvester who is working as a bouncer in a club.  In walks a classy woman, Karen, who takes a liking to him.  Her husband walks in, Jake, a big tine wise guy, who has to keep his nympho wife on a leash.

Our narrator takes out Jake’s bodyguard with a few fists and loses his job; but Jake is impressed, and later hires him as muscle.  He’s told to ignore Karen’s advances and keep his nose clean. He tries. He can’t resist Karen and the more he learns about how her husband, who is involved with drugs and the syndicate, and how he treats her, he can’t blame her for her wandering eye, seeking love and comfort that the cold man doesn’t give her.

And he falls for her.

Block/Shaw makes good use of the “metaphor” sex scene, here describing in poetic language oral sex in the “69” position:

She was on top of me. Her belly was against my chest. “This way,” she said.

Her mouth was like fire, searing me.  I held her, and was consumed in a sea of liquid flame.  Her long hair swept against me like a gale sweeping the land. Her head moved with gyrating rhythms …

Faster and faster …

I sought her too, then.  The turbulent river had overflowed its banks and I smoothed the waters.

The river became a rolling sea and I dipped my face in the tide.  It seemed that the heavens had opened at that moment and all the torrents of the ages had come pouring out.

The sea was clam then, and quiet.

And I, as never before … I became the storm. The storm raged, turbulent and rampant. I felt pulsations of thunder, and an explosion of lightning. There was a flash of white-hot sensation as the storm erupted into a cloudburst. (pp. 55-56)

Nice, but it’s out of place with the narrator’s clipped, tough guy prose writing in the whole book.

Sometimes the writing gets a little too clipped and tough-guyish that we get lost in the coldness of it all. Is the narrator even a human being, or a fucking and killing machine?

In this book, and others such as Lust Damned, Crossroads of Lust, $20 Lust, for Nightstand; April North, The Sex Shuffle and Pads Are for Passion for Beacon; Candy and A Strange Kind of Love for Midwood — we see the seeds of the writer and style Block was to later become; working out of Scott Meredith’s “black box” was a wealthy training ground for a young author.

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