A long time ago I said that Lawrence Block writes the best sentences in the business. I don't see any reason to change my mind.
Take the example of this nineteen fifty eight soft core novel Borderline now available from Hard Case Crime.
In addition to the pleasure of reading sentences that sing, stomp and strut, there is the considerable heft of the story itself. If this was dashed off, as many of soft cores were, this is one of the finest dashing offs ever put to paper.
In structure it reminds me of the novels John D. MacDonald was writing as originals for Gold Medal. A large cast of characters meeting in likely and unlikely ways (this time on the Texas-Mexican border) hurtling toward an explosion that will change them forever. Talk about your page turner. I read this, something I rarely do, in a single sitting just because of its bitter and brutal force. (Three short stories fill out the book.)
How's this for a ship of fools?
A conflicted and troubled gambler named Marty.
A psychopath named Weaver who has just learned how much he likes to kill women.
A nineteen year old victim of rape and desperation named Lily who turns to prostitution.
A bi-sexual hooker, Cassie, who sets her sight on Lily.
And there are numerous other characters who lend a hand in making this a bleak but surprisingly rich novel.
We'll see all these characters again in future and better Block novels. Here he is in the business of beginning to populate Block World and speak in Block Voice. He will go on to expand every element of this novel in theme, tone and pure storytelling. More than in any other of the Block soft cores I've read (and I've enjoyed every single one of them) here you see a great writer busy creating a realm exclusively his own.