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:
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.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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