Lawrence Block

Pseudonyms include William Ard, Ben Christopher, Anne Campbell Clark, Lee Duncan, Jill Emerson, Chip Harrison, Paul Kavanagh, Sheldon Lord, Andrew Shaw, B.L. Lawrence, John Warren Wells

“If Block were a serial killer instead of one of the best storytellers of our time, we’d be in real trouble.”
Publisher’s Weekly

LAWRENCE BLOCK just bugs the hell out of me.

Not only is he one of the most successful and well-respected crime writers around, both critically and commercially, but he’s created several very different series characters: sex-crazy teenager Chip Harrison; sleepless, reluctant spy Evan Tanner; easy-going, good-natured burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, quirky, conflicted assassin Keller; plucky little criminal lawyer Martin Ehrengraf who has never lost a case, ever; and his prize creation, tormented alcoholic (and then recovering alcoholic) private eye Matt Scudder.

And every single damn one of these characters is worth reading.

But that’s not enough. He has published about a zillion articles and short fiction in American Heritage, Redbook, Playboy, GQ, EQMM, AHMM and The New York Times, and has published numerous collections of short fiction in book form.

Nor is it enough for him to be an excellent writer. Through his long-running column in Writer’s Digest back in the eighties, and his many seminars and his books on writing, he’s become one of the most refreshingly candid authorities on writing, with a real knack for cutting through the la-de-da crap and getting right down to what would-be writers actually need to know.

And he’s won more awards than most people have friends. He’s a Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America, has won the Edgar and Shamus Awards several times and the Japanese Maltese Falcon Award twice, as well as the Nero Wolfe Award. In France, he has been proclaimed a Grand Maitre du Roman Noir and has twice been awarded the Societe 813 trophy. He has been a guest of honor at Bouchercon and at book fairs and mystery festivals around the world, and has been presented with the key to the city of Muncie, Indiana. He is a past president of the Private Eye Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

And he used to be a lesbian.

So I can’t even really get my hate-on because it just wouldn’t be politically correct.

Damn him.

But the worst part? The absolute worst part?

He seems to be a genuinely nice guy, honest and engaging and unfailingly charming every time I’ve met him.

Oh, and about that lesbian thing. You see, early in his career, he cranked out soft-core porn for various sleaze paperback publishers, under various pseudonyms such as Jill Emerson, Sheldon Lord and Andrew Shaw, among others. In fact, Block is so well-regarded now that publishers (and Block himself) are bringing out pricy hardcover limited editions of those “risque” paperback originals. And more recently, most of his books–many written under assorted pen names–have become available as e-books.

In fact, he’s a tireless recycler of his own works, endlessly dressing up older works, repackaging them and selling them all over again, constantly offering something old in a new skin. He even collected his assorted introductions, afterwords and the like from his myriad reprinted editions, and printed them as Afterthoughts (2011), a book that serves as a de facto memoir of his creative life — a book I’d essentially already read in installments over the years, but one I simply couldn’t put down. And then years later, he brought out Afterthoughts: Version 2.0., a new and expanded edition, and I’ll probably get that too.

Even his newsletter, originally print but now digital, is a great read. He toots his own horn and digresses like he’s paid by the mile, and every missive from the Mount is genuinely entertaining. He’s a one-man publishing empire, and a marketing genius.

I mean, really.

Totally annoying, right?

* * * * *

Block was born in Buffalo, New York, and attended Antioch College in Ohio. His first gig in the publishing world was in the mailroom of a New York publisher. He also worked as for a while as a slush pile reader for a literary agent. He’s always said that was an extremely useful experience because it taught him how NOT to write.

He began his writing career penning short stories for crime magazines and the previously-mentioned sex novels (another valuable learning experience, he’s said). His first story, “You Can’t Lose,” was published in 1957 and since has written more than fifty novels and countless stories and articles.

As anyone who has ever read any of his books can probably figure out, Block lives in New York City.

But I tell ya, the dude gets around.


  • The liner notes for folksinger Dave Van Ronk’s Song for Aging Children album were written by Lawrence Block. Block, in fact, took the title and epigraph for When the Sacred Ginmill Closes from Van Ronk’s song “Last Call” on the same album.


  • “… a hardboiled P.I. novel from 1961, featuring one Roy Markham, the hero of a TV series at the time. Originally on Belmont, reissued by Carroll & Graf. At the tender age of 22 or 23, Block was already in command of the full arsenal. Parts of this book are dynamite. And I note with pleasure that Block was not “imitating Chandler.”
    Mario Taboada on You Could Call It Murder (Rara-Avis)


  • “You Can’t Lose” (February 1958, Manhunt; Block’s first published story)
  • “A Fire at Night” (June1958, Manhunt; also 1999, Pure Pulp)
  • “Hate Goes Courting” (June 1958, Saturn Web Detective Story Magazine)
  • “The Way to Power” (June 1958, Trapped Detective Story Magazine)
  • “The Dope” (July 1958, Guilty Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Man with a Passion” (July 1958, Sure-Fire Detective Stories)
  • “Murder Is My Business” (September 1958, Off Beat Detective Stories)
  • “Lie Back and Enjoy It” (October 1958, Trapped Detective Story Magazine)
  • “The Bad Night” (November 1958, Guilty Detective Story Magazine)
  • “One Night of Death” (November 1958, Guilty Detective Story Magazine; as B.L. Lawrence)
  • “Ride a White Horse” (December 1958, Manhunt)
  • “Make a Prison” (January 1959, Science Fiction Stories; aka “Nor Iron Bars a Cage”)
  • “Bargain in Blood” (February 1959, Off Beat; as Sheldon Lord)
  • “The Burning Fury” (February 1959, Off Beat)
  • “Look Death in the Eye” (April 1959, Saturn Web Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Professional Killer” (April 1959, Trapped Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Sweet Little Racket” (April 1959, Trapped Detective Story Magazine; as B.L. Lawrence)
  • “Bride of Violence” (December 1959, Two-Fisted Detective Stories)
  • “The Badger Game” (February 1960, Trapped Detective Story Magazine)
  • “I Don’t Fool Around” (February 1961, Trapped Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Package Deal” (1961, Ed McBain’s Mystery Book #3; also1997, American Pulp)
  • “A Shroud for the Damned” (April 1962, Keyhole Mystery Magazine)
  • “Frozen Stiff” (June 1962, Manhunt)
  • “Just Window Shopping” (December 1962, Man’s Magazine; as Sheldon Lord)
  • “‘The Naked and the Deadly” (1962, Man’s Magazine; Ed London)
  • “Twin Call Girls”(1962, Man’s Magazine; Ed London)
  • “If This Be Madness” (January 1963, AHMM)
  • “The Books Always Balance” (July 1963, AHMM)
  • “Good for the Soul” (August 1963, AHMM)
  • “When This Man Dies” (April 1964, AHMM)
  • “Stag Party Girl” (February 1965, Guy; 2001, Pulp Masters; Ed London)
  • “Bits and Pieces” (January 1966, AHMM; aka “With a Smile for the Ending”)
  • “Passport in Order” (February 1966, AHMM)
  • “Pseudo Identity” (November 1966, AHMM)
  • “Some Things a Man Must Do” (December 1966, AHMM)
  • “Death Wish” (April 1967, AHMM)
  • “The Most Unusual Snatch” (April 1967, AHMM)
  • “Part of the Job” (December 1967, Dapper)
  • “That Kind of Day” (June 1974, AHMM)
  • “The Gentle Way” (July 1974, AHMM)
  • “Sometimes They Bite” (June 1976, AHMM)
  • “Funny You Should Ask” (August 1976, AHMM)
  • “A Pair of Recycled Jeans” (Augustt 1976, AHMM; aka “Funny You Should Ask”)
  • “The Dettweiler Solution” (September 1976, AHMM)
  • “Strangers on a Handball Court” (January 1977, AHMM)
  • “Nothing Short of Highway Robbery” (March 1977, AHMM)
  • “A Bad Night for Burglars” (April 1977, EQMM; aka “Gentlemen’s Agreement”)
  • “Like a Dog in the Street (April 1977, AHMM)
  • “This Crazy Business of Ours” (May 1977, AHMM)
  • “The Dangerous Business” (June 1977, EQMM; aka “The Dangerous Game”)
  • “Collecting Ackermans (July 1977, AHMM)
  • “Out the Window” (September 1977, AHMM; Matt Scudder)
  • “A Candle for the Bag Lady” (November 1977, AHMM; aka “Like a Lamb to the Slaughter“; Matt Scudder)
  • “Click!” (December 1977, AHMM)
  • “Change of Life” (January 1978, AHMM)
  • “The Ehrengraf Defense” (February 1978, EQMM; aka “The Ehrengraf Method”; Martin Ehrengraf). Kindle it!
  • “One Thousand Dollars a Word” (March 1978, AHMM)
  • “The Ehrengraf Presumption” (May 1978, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “The Ehrengraf Experience” (August 1978, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “Weekend Guests” (August 1978, AHMM)
  • “And Miles to Go Before I Sleep” (October 1978, AHMM; aka “Life After Life”)
  • “The Ehrengraf Appointment” (December 1978, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “The Ehrengraf Riposte” (December 1978, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “Hot Eyes, Cold Eyes” (1978, Gallery)
  • “The Ehrengraf Obligation” (March 1979, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “Going Through the Motions” (August 12, 1981, EQMM)
  • “The Ehrengraf Alternative” (September 1982, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “Like a Thief in the Night” (May 1983, Cosmopolitan; Bernie Rhodenbarr)
  • “The Ehrengraf Nostrum” (May 1984, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “By the Dawn’s Early Light (August 1984, Playboy; Matt Scudder)
  • “The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds” (December 1984, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • “Death of the Mallory Queen” (1984, Like a Lamb to the Slaughter; Chip Harrison)
  • “Leo Youngdahl, R.I.P.” (1984, Like a Lamb to the Slaughter)
  • “You Could Call It Blackmail” (1984, For Women Only; also 1984, Like a Lamb to the Slaughter)
  • “Like a Bug on a Windshield” (October 1985, EQMM)
  • “As Good as a Rest” (August 1986, EQMM)
  • “Cleveland in My Dreams” (February 1989, EQMM) ..Kindle it!
  • “The Burglar Who Dropped In on Elvis” (April 1990, Playboy; Bernie Rhodenbarr)
  • “Answers to Soldier” (June 1990, Playboy; Keller)
  • “Batman’s Helpers” (1990, Justice for Hire; Matt Scudder) |  Kindle it!
  • “Something to Remember You By” (July/August 1991, New Mystery)
  • “A Blow for Freedom” (October 1991, Playboy)
  • “Hilliard’s Ceremony” (Summer 1992, The Armchair Detective)
  • “The Merciful Angel of Death” (1993, New Mystery [anthology]; Matt Scudder) |  Kindle it!
  • “Keller’s Therapy” (May 1993, Playboy; Keller)
  • “How Would You Like It?” (1993, Monsters in Our Midst)
  • “Some Days You Get the Bear (1993, Penthouse)
  • “Someday I’ll Plant More Walnut Trees” (1993, Some Days You Get the Bear)
  • “The Tulsa Experience” (1993, Some Days You Get the Bear)
  • “Dogs Walked, Plants Watered” (May 1994, Playboy; Keller)
  • “Keller on Horseback” (1994, Murder Is My Business; Keller)
  • “Keller’s Karma” (February 1995, Playboy; Keller)
  • “Keller in Shining Armor” (November 1995, Playboy; Keller)
  • “The Ehrengraf Affirmation” (March 1997, EQMM; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke” (Summer/Fall 1997, MHCMM; with Lynne Wood Block; Bernie Rhodenbarr)
  • “How Far It Could Go” (1997, The Plot Thickens)
  • “Keller on the Spot” (November 1997, Playboy; Keller) ..Kindle it!
  • “Headaches and Bad Dreams” December 1997, EQMM)
  • “As Dark As Christmas Gets” (1997, Mysterious Press Christmas Card; also December 1998, EQMM; Chip Harrison)
  • “Looking for David” (1997, Whydunit; also February 1998, EQMM; Matt Scudder)
  • “I Suppose You’re Wondering…” (1998, Murder on the Run: The Adams Round Table)
  • “Keller’s Choice (1998, Murder on the Run: The Adams Round Table; Keller)
  • “Keller’s Last Refuge (March 1998, Playboy; Keller)
  • “Like a Bone in the Throat” (1998, Murder for Revenge)
  • “Looking for David” (February 1998, EQMM; Matt Scudder) |  Kindle it!
  • “Keller in Retirement” (1998; Keller)
  • “Three in the Side Pocket” (1998, Hot Blood X)
  • “In for a Penny” (December 1999, EQMM)
  • “Keller’s Art” (Spring 2000, Modern Painters)
  • “Murder at the Roundtable” (Summer 2000, MHCMM)
  • “Let’s Get Lost” (September/October 2000, EQMM; Matt Scudder) |  Kindle it!
  • “Sweet Little Hands” (2001, Flesh & Blood)
  • “You Don’t Even Feel It” (2001, New Millenium)
  • “Keller’s Designated Hitter” (2001, Murderer’s Row; Keller) . Kindle it!
  • “Keller’s Horoscope” (2001, Death by Horoscope)
  • “Speaking of Lust” (2001, Speaking of Lust)
  • “Speaking of Greed” (2001, Speaking of Greed)
  • “The Night and the Music” (2002, Enough Rope; Matt Scudder)
  • “A Moment of Wrong Thinking” (April 2002, EQMM; Matt Scudder)Kindle it!
  • “Almost Perfect” (May 2002, Playboy)
  • “A Burglar’s-Eye View of Greed” (2002, New York Newsday)
  • “Keller and the Rabbits” (April 14, 2003, Audiobooks Today)
  • “Terrible Tommy Terhune” (2003, Murder Is My Racquet)
  • “Keller’s Adjustment” (2005, Transgressions; Keller) |  Kindle it!
  • “Proactive Keller” (June 2006, Playboy; Keller)
  • “Keller By a Nose” (2006, Murder at the Racetrack; Keller)
  • “Welcome to the Real World” (2006, Murder in the Rough)
  • “If You Can’t Stand the Heat (2006, Manhattan Noir; Kit Tolliver) |  Kindle it!
  • “A Vision in White” (June 2007, EQMM)
  • “Rude Awakening” (2007, Bronx Noir; Kit Tolliver) |  Kindle it!
  • “Quotidian Keller” (July/August 2007, The American Stamp Dealer & Collector; Keller)
  • “A Chance to Get Even” (September/October 2007, EQMM)
  • “Keller the Dogkiller” (May 2008, EQMM; Keller) . Kindle it!
  • “Keller in Dallas” (2009, The American Stamp Dealer & Collector; Keller) 
  • “Who Knows Where It Goes” (January 2010, EQMM)
  • “Without a Body” (July 2010, EQMM)
  • “Scenarios” (2010, The Dark End of the Street)
  • “Catch and Release” (2010, Stories) |  Kindle it!
  • “You Can Call Me Lucky” (2010, Indian Country Noir; Kit Tolliver) | Kindle it!
  • “Clean Slate” (2010, Warriors; Kit Tolliver)Kindle it!
  • “Dolly’s Trash and Treasures” (May 2011, EQMM)
  • “Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen” (2011, The Night and the Music; Matt Scudder)
  • “One Last Night at Grogan’s” (2011, The Night and the Music; Matt Scudder)
  • “See the Woman” (2011, LA Noire)
  • “The Ehrengraf Reverse” (2012; Martin Ehrengraf) |  Kindle it!
  • “How Far” (2013, Catch and Release)
    Script for one-act play based on the story “How Far It Could Go”
  • “The Burglar Takes a Cat” (August 2013, digital; Bernie Rhodenbarr)Kindle it!
  • “I Know How to Pick ’em” (2013, Dangerous Women)Kindle it!
  • “The Ehrengraf Settlement” (2015, Buffalo Noir; Martin Ehrengraf)
  • “The Ehrengraf Fandango” (January 2016, digital)Kindle it!
  • “Resume Speed” (February 2016) (novella) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • “Keller’s Homecoming” (May 2016; digitalKindle it!
  • “Keller’s Fedora” (May 2016; digital)Kindle it!
  • “Keller in Des Moines” (May 2016, digital; Keller) (ss)Kindle it!
  • “A Time to Scatter Stones” (2019; Matt Scudder) | Buy this book | Buy the audio Kindle it!
  • ALSO
  • “A Little Off the Top” (Gallery)
    Even Block says he “dunno when” this was published, but it was reprinted in 1984’s Like a Lamb to the Slaughter.





See also: Telling Lies for Fun and Profit Lawrence Block Writes About Writing

  • Writing the Novel From Plot To Print (1979) Buy this book
  • Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (1981) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Write for Your Life (1986) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Spider, Spin Me a Web: A Handbook for Fiction Writers (1988) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • After Hours: Conversations With Lawrence Block (1995)
  • Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers, And Thieves: The Lives and Crimes of Fifty American Villains (2004) Buy this book
    An illustrated rogues’ gallery of assassins, outlaws, bootleggers, con artists, and scoundrel from American history, including everyone from Jesse James to Dutch Schultz.
  • Step By Step: A Pedestrian Memoir (2009) Buy this book Kindle it!
    From racewalking through the desert to a stroll aound the block, Block recalls his life (so far)
  • The Liar’s Bible: A Handbook for Fiction Writers (2011) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Liar’s Companion: A Field Guide for Fiction Writers (2011) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Afterthoughts (2011) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Write for Your Life: The Home Seminar for Writers (2011) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Crime of Our Lives (2015) Kindle it!
    Block cobbles together another book out of bits and pieces of other books, this one rounding up the articles, essays and introductions he’s written over the years for other people’s books. It makes for a fascinating and entertaining account one man’s take on crime fiction over the years. Witty, provocative, cranky and affectionate, it’s a cheeky and rollicking read not to be missed, as Block pays tribute to, among others, Chandler, Hammett, Westlake, McBain, Gar Haywood, Spillane and Gorman. And some cat called Poe.
  • Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel (2015) Buy this book Kindle it!
    Long awaited update of 1978 classic, one of the best writing books ever, dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. But Block, still one of publishing’s shrewdest tacticians for decades, holds true to his original thesis, that every novel is different, and so is every novelist; his aim is to give you the tools to enable you to find your own way. Absolutely essential.
  • Hunting Buffalo with Bent Nails (2019) Buy this book Kindle it!
    All the articles, essays and mental meanderings about everything from towns called Buffalo to old subway cars, left over from his other non-fiction collections.
  • Generally Speaking (2019) |Buy this book |Buy the audio |Kindle it!
    A collection of his Very Fine columns from Linn’s Stamp News.
  • Afterthoughts: Version 2.0 (2021) | Kindle it!
    New, and much expanded edition of the much loved collection of forewords, afterwords, essays, articles and digressions.
  • A Writer Prepares (2021)  Kindle it!
    The long-awaited memoir, featuring some chips off the young Block. Essential reading for writers, readers and maybe even those somewhere in between.


  • Death Cruise (1999) | Buy this book
  • Master’s Choice (1999) | Buy this book
  • Opening Shots: Great Mystery and Crime Writers Share Their First Published Stories (2000) | Buy this book
  • Master’s Choice 2 (2000) | Buy this book
  • Opening Shots Volume 2: More Great Mystery and Crime Writers Share Their First Published Stories (2001) | Buy this book
  • Speaking of Wrath: Stories of Vindictive Anger (2002)
  • Manhattan Noir (2006;Akashic Noir) | Buy this book |Buy the audio |Kindle it!
  • Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics (2008) | Buy this book |Kindle it!
  • Dark City Lights (2015)
  • In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper (2016) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • Alive in Shape and Color (2019) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • At Home in the Dark (2019) Buy this book | Kindle it!
    Not noir? Well, definitely dark. A wide-ranging collection of stories by N. J. Ayres, Jill D. Block, Hilary Davidson, Jim Fusilli, Elaine Kagan, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Pluck, Wallace Stroby, and Duane Swierczynski, among others.
  • From Sea to Stormy Sea (2019) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Darkling Halls of Ivy (2020) Buy this book
    A semester’s worth of academia-themed murder & mayhem, by Ian Rankin, Joe Lansdale, Reed Farrel Coleman, Gar Anthony Haywood, Tod Goldberg, David Morrell and others.
  • Collectibles (2021) | Buy this book
    Mystery geeks and collectors should keep an eye peeled for this collection of crime tales about… collecting, by some of our best crime writers. With obsession-drenched stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane,  S.J. Rozan, Thomas Pluck, S.A. Crosby, Lee Goldberg, Joe R. Lansdale, Alex Segura and more.
  • Playing Games (2023) Buy this book Kindle it!
    Oh, the games people play now… Gar Anthony Haywood, S.A. Cosby, David Morrell, Patricia Abbott, Joe R. Lansdale, Charles Ardai, Jeffery Deaver, Robert Silverberg and the dude himself all ante up with tales of those who spin the wheel, roll the dice, and play the games, be it poker or Candyland. 


    (1973, MGM)
    Based on the novel Deadly Honeymoon by Lawrence Block
    Screenplay by S. Lee Pogostin
    Directed by Elliott Silverstein
    Starring Dack Rambo, Rebecca Diana Smith
    Also starring John Beck, Jim Boles, Dennis Burkley, Angela Clarke, Pat Hingle, David Huddleston, Bob Steele
    Lawrence Block himself says “I can’t imagine why anyone would voluntarily watch it all the way through.”
  • EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE | Buy this video | Buy the DVD
    (1986, Producer Sales Organisation)
    Based on the novel by Lawrence Block
    Screenplay by Oliver Stone and David Lee Henry
    Directed by Hal Ashby
    Starring Jeff Bridges as MATT SCUDDER
    New York becomes Los Angeles, and one of the all-time classic P.I. novels is pissed on.
    102 minutes
    VERY loosely based on The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block
    Directed by Hugh Wilson
    Starring Whoopie Goldberg as BERNIE?
    Also starring Bobcat Goldthwait
    New York becomes San Francisco. And Bernie becomes… Whoopi Goldberg? WTF???? All casting directors on drugs please raise their hands.
  • A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES | Buy on DVD |Buy on Blu-Ray |Watch it now!
    (2014, Universal)
    Premiere: September 19, 2014
    Based on the novel by Lawrence Block
    Screenplay by Scott Frank
    Directed by Scott Frank
    Starring Liam Neeson as MATT SCUDDER
    Also starring Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Whitney Able, Marina Squerciati
    How did a good movie get in here?



  • Lawrence
    The official site, irreverent as all hell, and fun as all git out, 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 really rare, really collectible Block is the unsigned copy.
  • Telling Lies for Fun and Profit
    Lawrence Block writes (and writes) About writing
  • “The Autobiography of Matthew Scudder”
    An excerpt from the novel.
  • Never Can Say Goodbye
    I wanted to interview Matt Scudder in June 2023 about his new autobiography for Mystery Scene, but he wasn’t available. Had to settle for Lawrence Block.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, George. And hats off to Larry. Always.

Leave a Reply