Ed London
Created by
Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block's first private eye was ED LONDON, a man with decidely more upscale and expensive tastes than saloon-bound Matt Scudder.

Ed lives in an apartment in a brownstone building around the corner from Third and Eighty-Fourth (in NYC, of course). It's a nicely furnished place, tasteful, with two leather armchairs (one by the window), bookcases full of fine books (including his collection of Stephen Crane first editions), a hi-fi (chamber music, Mozart, Bartok, etc.), an Oriental rug in the entranceway and hall, a Bokhara in the living room, and some good paintings on the wall, including a Miro and a Tanguay. Ed describes it as "a floor-through apartment loaded with heavy furniture and Victorian charm."

And in keeping with his ideas of sophistication, Ed smokes a pipe, and only drinks cognac -- Courvosier if you have it, please.

But to pay for all these things, Ed's been known to play a little loose with the rules sometimes, despite the moralizing:

"It was a mess. A private detective doesn't solve a crime by suppressing evidence. He doesn't launch a murder investigation by transporting a body illegally, Instead he plays ball with the police, keeps his nose clean and collects his fees. That way he can pay too much rent for a floor-through apartment ... he can drive a convertible and smoke expensive tobacco and drink expensive cognac... I like my aprtment and my car and my tobacco and my cognac. So i make a point of playing ball with cops and keeping a clean nose... most of the time."

The one novel, Death Pulls a Doublecross (1961; aka "Coward's Kiss") already displays Block's sure hand at plotting and characterization, though it's marred by a few missteps along the way, notably in his some of his attempts at hard-boiled quips. Even by the PC standards of 1961, lines like "(the elevator) was slower than a retarded child" sound clunky and more than a little harsh. But overall the book and the three subsequent short stories he wrote featuring London (all published in men's magazines of the time) are good solid private eye fare, and offer a tantalizing glimpse at what was to come.

NOVELS

SHORT STORIES

  • "'The Naked and the Deadly" (1962, Man's Magazine)
  • "Twin Call Girls"(1962, Man's Magazine)
  • "Stag Party Girl" (February 1965, Guy; 2001, Pulp Masters)

COLLECTIONS

RELATED LINKS

  • Lawrence Block.com
    The official site, full of vital info about the author, his books, his short stories, his newsletter, his upcoming projects, his seemingly endless book tour and everything else. And you can also buy autographed copies here (credit cards gleefully accepted). Although, you know what they say -- the rare Block is the unsigned copy.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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