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The Girl With the Long Green Heart (original 1965; edition 2011)

by Lawrence Block

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309None36,007 (3.82)12
Member:SemperFi
Title:The Girl With the Long Green Heart
Authors:Lawrence Block
Info:Hardcase Crime 2011-03-29 (2011), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Lawrence Block. Mystery, Con, ebook

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The Girl with the Long Green Heart by 1938- Lawrence Block (Author) (1965)

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» See also 12 mentions

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After doing a stretch in San Quentin, Johnny Hayden decides to commit to a quiet life in middle management. While saving up to buy a local motel and quietly completing a correspondence course in hospitality, Johnny is approached by an old friend with a con to end all cons. Reluctant at first, Johnny eventually caves after careful analysis suggests the plan is a sure thing. The only hiccup? There’s an amateur involved. Will the scheme go off without a hitch or will their accomplice’s inexperience lead to their downfall?

Hard Case Crime has become my go to when I want to relax with a swift read between larger, more demanding novels. This isn't a slight against the quality of work – not at all – I just find the stories read like swift punches to the gut. The writing is very clean and clear and the plots are always interesting. Charles Ardai sure knows what he’s doing when he puts that stamp of approval on a crime novel.

Most of the novel takes place in the Northeast United States as well as Toronto and the scheme itself involves purchasing land in the Canadian Midwest province of Alberta. Knowing what we know now in just how vastly rich that province is, it almost would've have been worth their while to hang onto the land. Johnny and Doug could have been oil tycoons!

Block’s prose is just so easily digestible. I know it’s a short book – only 251 pages (with a very racy cover I might add) – but I flew through this in just two sittings. When it comes to the plot, it’s hard to believe Block hasn't set up one of these cons himself, everything seems so flawless. Well, it’s either that or he was once taken by a smooth-talking grifter himself.

Man, what an ending. I thought I had it all figured out but Block goes and blindsides me like a snow storm in July. It’s everything a Hard Case Crime novel should be, it’s unexpected and brutal. It just goes to show the timeless quality of Block’s work. With the exception of one major difference – lessened security at the airport (no fault of Block’s) – this novel holds up today despite being published nearly 50 years ago. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
This one and "Grifter's Game" are my favorite Block books so far. This one was a lot like "The Sting" or "Matchstick Men" about a long con and cons within cons and so forth. It's fun if you like that sort of thing, which I do. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Johnny Hayden and Doug Rance are con men who feel they have the perfect con ~ perfect because the have the mark's secretary/girl friend taking part.

Ah yes, the girl - Johnny says, "She had a special beauty nude. Most women look better clothed. Bodies are imperfect. Clothes hide, and also promise, and the promise is too often better than the fulfillment of it. Not so with Evvie." And ~ she has a grifter's soul.

There comes a moment when the con is almost done, and you know in your heart of hearts something just has to go wrong... but never in my wildest imagination did I have a clue. ( )
  mysterymax | Jul 13, 2013 |
A saying goes that you can't con a perfectly honest man! None of the three men in this pulp novel from 1965 are completely honest. And there's a girl too. One with a grifters soul!

According to LibraryThing I'd love this book! Well, I liked it and there were some memorable passages in it as well. However, I wouldn't call it a favorite.

The tempo was a little slow compared to other novels from Hard Case Crime and the story did momentarily drag along. But all in all a good and entertaining read! ( )
  Locke | May 16, 2010 |
Hardboiled story that begins with a professional con man (who has just been released from serving seven years in San Quentin) having renounced his grifting ways. He is now the assistant night manager of a bowling alley, saving his pennies to open a bar. He's visited by an acquaintance who persuades him to take on one last con job that will provide him with the capital he needs to buy the bar.

The con itself is meticulously detailed and it's fun to watch the planning process and see it carried out. Of course there's a girl involved, and she gets our protagonist into a heap of trouble. (They always do.) I won't spoil any more of the story. Suffice it to say, it's an enjoyable story that well-crafted and engaging.

As with Grifter's Game (the only other Block book I have read), the ending is a complete turn-of-events. The books doesn't end the way you think it's going to end, that's for sure. It could easily have supported a sequel, but to my knowledge, none was ever written. Good stuff and recommended.

Review copyright 2009 J. Andrew Byers ( )
1 vote bibliorex | Jun 21, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Block, Lawrence, 1938-Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McGinnis, Robert, 1926-Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Johnny Hayden and Doug Rance have a scheme to take real estate entrepreneur Wallace Gunderman for all he is worth, but they need a girl on the inside to make it work. Evelyn Stone, Gunderman's secretary, his lover, and his worst enemy is ready to help.… (more)

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