First published by Random House in 1950, So Many Doors is the debut novel by Pulitzer Prize-nominated American writer Oakley Hall, an English professor emeritus at UC Irvine and author of 25 books, who died in 2008.
During his distinguished career, Hall won numerous awards, including the Wrangler Award and the Western Writers of America (WWA) Spur Award for his magazine pieces. His western novel Warlock, a finalist for the 1958 Pulitzer Prize, was made into a film by Twentieth Century-Fox starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn, and his 1963 book, The Downhill Racers, was later filmed by Paramount as Downhill Racer starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman.
This newly reissued crime novel, which he wrote while studying at Columbia University, was initially overlooked when it came out in hardback, but the paperback went on to become a big seller and received wide critical acclaim. Set in the years following the Great Depression, it is an affecting, murderous tale about two inseparable lovers, consumed with overwhelming desire and corrupting jealousy, and the havoc their relationship causes to those around them. Divided into five sections, each told from the viewpoint of a friend or relative who interacted with the pair, the story spans a period of ten years, beginning in the early 1940s.
Hall’s vivid characters and intense, emotionally charged prose elevate So Many Doors to a compelling, unforgettable story of spurned love, flawed passion and pride, caustic obsession, and distrust and despair.
My review of So Many Doors is featured today in the Lancashire Post and syndicated to 20 newspapers in the UK. The full review can be found at the web link below and elsewhere:
First published in 1968 and thought lost for many years, acclaimed US mystery writer Lawrence Block’s riveting, unflinching first crime novel is at long last reprinted.
Written in the winter of 1959, Sinner Man is Block’s first novel-length piece of crime fiction. Prior to this, he had mostly written erotica novels and crime stories for magazines.
According to the author in his extensive, fascinating afterword, he had started out intending to ‘move up to crime novels’ and then, eventually, to ‘move up to the pinnacle of mainstream literary fiction’.
It took nearly a decade for him to find a publisher for Sinner Man, so it wasn’t his first crime novel to be published – Fawcett Gold Medal published at least two others before this one saw the light of day. And when it did, it was under a pseudonym and a different title (Savage Lover). Block ‘never saw a copy’.
After many years hunting for it, when he finally held the book in his hands, he felt ‘it needed work.’ This reprint by Hard Case Crime, 48 years after its first publication, is an updated version with a revised opening.
Block is a naturally talented writer, very adept at getting readers invested in his stories and making you truly care what actually happens to the central characters. This book is no different in that respect, and by the end you can’t help but smile at the ironic twist and find yourself eager to get started on another of his crime novels… and fortunately, there are plenty of them.
My review of Sinner Man by Lawrence Block is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post, and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.
Read the full review here.