Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kindle Review: DEADLY HONEYMOON, by Lawrence Block



One of the happiest events in publishing this last year was the flood of re-releases on e-book of Lawrence Block titles. His fans finally got to grab up inexpensive editions of some of the Master’s earliest work, and see an entirely different aspect of his vast talents.

One of the earliest of these new e-book releases was DEADLY HONEYMOON, a novel Block wrote in 1967 and which has been in and out of print over the years ever since. I was particularly excited about this one, since I’d been buying and reading the Hard Case Crime reprints and enjoying the hell out of them. According to Block’s essay at the back of the book, DEADLY HONEYMOON was inspired by his friend Donald Westlake, and was his very first hardcover release.

In essence, this is a simple, relentless revenge tale. Dave and Jill are young newlyweds on their honeymoon, bright-eyed and eager for the future, until they witness a murder and become victims themselves—the bad guys beat Dave senseless, and, almost on a whim, brutally rape Jill. Thankfully, Block doesn’t go into detail on this (after all, who wants to read a rape scene?) but in his clinical, almost detached vagueness, Block succeeds in horrifying you. It’s the sudden shift that does it, the juxtaposition of a young couple so happy and na├»ve just pages earlier, confronted with a sort of violence they never could have conceived of.

Instead of going to the police, Dave and Jill decide to take matters into their own hands. Something has been taken away from them, they feel; something that can only be paid for in blood.

The two of them go to New York on the trail of the enemy, and over the course of tracking them down discover how deep the darkness in their own hearts goes. They still love each other, still want each other, but their desire for vengeance tests everything they think they know about themselves.

DEADLY HONEYMOON is an immensely satisfying novel, moving along at a breakneck pace, lingering only briefly on their fumbling and bittersweet attempts to hold onto each other. A lot of the anxiety in reading it comes from your fear that, after all this, will they ever be able to return to any sort of normalcy. And Lawrence Block keeps you on edge about that until the final pages.

An absolutely top-notch, brilliant novel.

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