Review: “Clean Slate” by Lawrence Block

Review: “Clean Slate” by Lawrence Block


Lawrence Block is a writer I’ve been familiar with for a while. I’ve read a couple of his Bernie Rhodenbarr series and a few short stories, so I had to read “Clean Slate” when I saw it was included in The Best American Mystery Stories 2011.

I don’t know what I expected, but “Clean Slate” was not it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good story, darkly fascinating. The story starts off innocently enough, with our main character, Kit Tolliver, meeting up with her old high school boyfriends who she hasn’t seen for 8 years, but it quickly turns into something else entirely. Kit is a sociopath, her issues stemming from her childhood, but it’s hard to say much more without telling the whole story. Sex and violence are tied together in her mind, and she’s leaving a lot of bodies behind her.

This story was originally included in Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Doizos. According to Block’s website, “By the time I finished that story (“Clean Slate”), I was in love with the girl. And I could see that I was writing a novel, and I could also see that it was probably going to be way over the top in terms of sex and violence. I figured I’d just let it be whatever it wanted to be, and over the succeeding months I completed it.” And it turned into the recently published Getting Off, which I can only imagine as disturbing, in a good way, although probably not for those who avoid reading graphic scenes.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 can be ordered from Amazon or  an Indie bookstore.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Crime- Short Story

Book source: For review

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

RIP VI is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.


  1. I’m not too crazy about dead bodies and being a mental health worker I don’t like people with mental heath issues being portrayed as murderers. It just perpetuates the stereo type, so I’ll skip this one.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: