Resume Speed by Lawrence Block
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this from NetGalley for review.
At the start of this we meet a man called Bill who is an awful hurry to catch a bus out of town, but as soon as he’s over the state line he immediately gets a job as a cook at a diner and starts establishing a new life there.
You may think that sounds a bit fishy, but honestly who among us hasn’t hopped a bus out of town and changed their identity?
This new novella from esteemed mystery writer Lawrence Block is a bit of an odd duck. It’s mainly about Bill as he develops a routine in this new town and quickly becomes a valued employee at the diner and a reliable tenant at his rooming house while he starts a relationship with the local librarian. His only vice is the single shot of whiskey he has every night before bed. Yet, we know that Bill is hiding from something.
That description sounds more mysterious than it actually is because nothing that we learn about Bill is all that surprising considering how we’re introduced to him, and most readers will probably be able to have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to end.
What I found incredibly enjoyable is just the way that Block is able to write people doing even everyday things. Whether it’s private detective Matt Scudder wandering the streets of New York or hit man Keller traveling the country to murder people there’s always this steady stream of observations and actions that don’t seem like anything special while reading yet they make for compelling stories. It’s a quiet way of getting to really know a character, and Block is the master of building these small moments into something larger.
Another aspect that fascinated me was that it seems like it should be set in the past. Surely, in our modern age someone couldn’t just jump on a bus and reinvent himself in a town down the line could he? That’s what I was thinking and the first part of the book felt very old school to me like it had been written in the ‘60, but then there are mentions of computers and Google so it’s definitely the 21st century. It could have seemed anachronistic, but I found that it gave the whole thing an interesting timeless tone instead.
Overall, I was completely engrossed with Bill as he goes about his everyday life while hiding from his past, and I’m more impressed than ever with Block for the way he makes this quiet character-based story work.
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