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.


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