SMALL TOWN by Lawrence Block


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A New Yorker devastated by the bombing of the Twin Towers goes on a methodical rampage of his own in this haunting valentine to the Big Apple.

The murder of the first victim, East Village realtor Marilyn Fairchild, seems so commonplace that the cops don’t miss a beat before arresting John Blair Creighton, the author she’d brought home the night of her death. But the case starts to go south when Creighton’s lawyer, cancer-stricken Maury Winters, argues a connection to the slaying of two prostitutes and their madam—a crime discovered by the same hapless witness, alcoholic cleaner Jerry Pankow, and one for which Creighton has an alibi. Once the bombing of three bars also on Jerry’s client list sends the death toll into the double digits, most authors would narrow the focus to the manhunt for the killer. But Block (Hope to Die, 2001, etc.) builds suspense by the daring trick of suppressing virtually every glimpse of the bamboozled justice system to focus on the lives of citizens going about their business. Creighton finds his latest novel fetching an incredible advance and himself turned into a celebrity because everybody assumes he strangled Marilyn Fairchild. Gallery owner Susan Pomerance, excited by her upcoming show of an unknown local sculptor and her recent body piercings, stocks up her toy chest and gets in touch with her inner dominatrix. And the most likely detective figure, former police commissioner Francis Buckram, back in town to explore a possible mayoral bid, is too busy writhing on Susan’s bed every Friday night to take much interest in the violent craftsman the media have started to call the Carpenter.

“We’re all in the same boat,” an unwitting accomplice tells the Carpenter. But can these isolated individuals barely aware of each other’s existence pull together to defeat a madman? It’s an excellent question for us all.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-001190-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002


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