Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bookmarks -- The Girl With the Long Green Heart

Found this book a few weeks ago browsing Half Price Books, and as a fan of Lawrence Block, I had to have it. Most of what I have read by Block have been mysteries from one of his series characters. I was particularly interested to read something written long before I had become a fan.

The Girl With The Long Green Heart is a fairly standard thriller, and I had much of it figured out before the protagonist, Johnny Hayden. Hayden is a ex-con hoping he can stay straight and work hard enough to buy and manage a rundown roadhouse. He's had a stint in San Quentin and doesn't plan to take any chances going back. That is until a former partner comes to town and offers him a chance to pull a grift that should make him the kind of money he'd need years to save.

I found myself rooting for Johnny, partly because he believes that he's found the woman who is the last piece of his dream, and partly because the guy getting shafted is such a despicable human being. The book may read slow for a few people, because there are plenty of details of the scam (and other sorts of grifts) that may seem tedious. However, I found the intricacies fascinating. Add a few dashes of lust, greed and anger -- emotions that oil the gears of the scam -- and you've got a pretty good story.

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