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Himself - Author, Too Young to Kill. Block has lived in New York City for decades, setting most of his fiction there, and has come to be very closely associated with the city. He is married to Lynne Block.
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With Lynne, he spends much of his time traveling the two have been to countries ,  but continues to consider New York his home. He was a regular guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson , appearing in eight of Ferguson's ten seasons as host of the program.
Considerable autobiographical information on the earlier phase of his life and career may be found scattered through Telling Lies for Fun and Profit , a collection of his fiction columns from Writer's Digest. In he was honored with the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award. Block's most famous creation, the ever-evolving Matthew Scudder, was introduced in 's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop working as an unlicensed private investigator in Hell's Kitchen.
Originally published as paperbacks, the early novels are in many ways interchangeable; the second and third entries— In the Midst of Death and Time to Murder and Create —were written in the opposite order from their publication dates.
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The series was set to end on that note, but an idle promise Block had made to supply an editor friend with an original Scudder short resulted in "By the Dawn's Early Light", a story set during the character's drinking days, but told from the perspective of a recovering alcoholic. Block expanded on that with 's When the Sacred Ginmill Closes named for a line in a song by folk singer Dave Van Ronk , a close friend , which proved not only one of the more literary entries, but also a favorite of the author and his fans.
From then on, Scudder's circumstances rarely remain the same from one book to the next; 's A Ticket to the Boneyard, for example, reunites him with Elaine Mardell, a hooker from his days on the force, whom he marries several books later. Other fan favorites are 's taut, gruesome A Dance at the Slaughterhouse winner of the Edgar Award for Best [mystery] Novel , and 's A Long Line of Dead Men, a tightly plotted puzzler featuring a rapidly dwindling fraternity known as the "Club of 31".
A Walk Among the Tombstones , published in , was made into a film , released in , written and directed by Scott Frank , with Liam Neeson playing the lead role. It has been suggested that Scudder's struggle with alcoholism is in part autobiographical; while Block has repeatedly refused to discuss the subject, citing AA's own tradition of anonymity, in a column he wrote for Writer's Digest, Block wrote that when he created Scudder, "I let him hang out in the same saloon where I spent a great deal of my own time.
I was drinking pretty heavily around that time, and I made him a pretty heavy drinker, too. I drank whiskey, sometimes mixing it with coffee.
Block's other major series, humorous and much lighter in tone, relates the misadventures of gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr. The series is rich in sophisticated, witty dialogue. The only significant advancements come in the third volume, The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling , winner of the first annual Nero Award which sees Bernie having used the spoils from his previous caper to buy a bookstore, and introduces Carolyn Kaiser, his lesbian "soulmate" and partner in crime.
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The plots run very much to form: Bernie breaks into a residence usually on Manhattan's Upper East Side and, through a series of implausible events, becomes involved in a murder investigation—often as the prime suspect. There is, however, a meta quality to the more recent entries: Bernie, the reluctant detective, is himself a bookseller and genre fan, and is apt to make references to Agatha Christie , E.
The Burglar in the Library similarly imagines a meeting between Hammet and Chandler at a New England inn in the s, casting a volume inscribed by Chandler to Hammett as its own Maltese Falcon. Besides Scudder and Rhodenbarr, Block has written eight novels about Evan Tanner, an adventurer and accidental revolutionary who, as a result of an injury sustained in the Korean War , cannot sleep.
All but the last of these were published in the '60s and early '70s beginning with 's The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep , while the most recent, 's Tanner on Ice, revived the character after nearly a thirty-year hiatus. Chip Harrison, running on the twin engines of lust and curiosity, originally appeared in two funny, non-mystery novels which revolved around seventeen-year-old Chip's obsessive quest to lose his virginity: Realizing the series didn't have much of a future once Chip reached his goal, Block puts Chip to work as an assistant to Leo Haig, an admirer of sleuth Nero Wolfe who models himself after his hero e.
They appeared in two subsequent, decidedly tongue-in-cheek mystery novels: Four episodic novels Hit Man , Hit List , Hit Parade and Hit Me as well as one full-length novel Hit and Run chronicle the life of Keller, a lonely, wistful hitman who originally appeared as a semi-regular feature in Playboy magazine in the s. Most of the novels are fix-ups of related short stories; Hit and Run is the only Keller novel conceived of and written as a single story.
Keller's full name is John Paul Keller a fact mentioned in Hit Man , although he is rarely called anything but Keller in the series. The stories are rarely action-oriented or focused on the details of his crimes, instead being character studies of Keller's personality and the people he meets e. Keller receives assignments via a contact named Dot, who is originally based in White Plains. His assignments usually take him to different cities, where he often envisions himself retiring from the business, daydreaming about settling there, before finishing off the assignment and returning, his fantasies forgotten as a passing dream.
Keller's unlikely pastime is stamp collecting , to which he is nearly obsessively devoted. Small Town , Block's first non-series book in fifteen years, details a group of New Yorkers' varying responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, Block has also written dozens of short stories over the years, and he is the only four-time winner of the Edgar Award for Best Short Story.