Written by Jill Emerson — Returning to an old pseudonym, here the legend in the crime writing that is Lawrence Block goes back to what he describes as his ‘inner lesbian’. And in Getting Off, writing as Emerson, he regales us with a tale of sex and violence.
Kit Tolliver is a murderer. A childhood filled with trauma has led her to roam the country, picking up men in bars and clubs, having sex with them, and then killing them. It is her life, seamlessly interwoven with her day-to-day activity. She changes identity just as often, never going by the same name from one city to the next, spreading her murderous ways across the United States. Then, an off-hand remark reminds her that there are five men who haven’t met the same fate as so many others. This leads her to track down these men in order to mete out the same fate all her victims must face. Along the way, she meets someone who could possibly change her life, yet she is almost too scared to do so…
Getting Off is a very different novel to any I’ve reviewed for this site up to now. An incredibly violent, sexually charged affair, it is not for the feint hearted. An intricately detailed account of various sexual liaisons, and subsequent murders, means this book is already polarising readers.
Personally, I dug it, in no small part due to Block’s excellent writing style, which shows no sign of dipping in quality. He is successful in doing one of the hardest acts in fiction: making a thoroughly deplorable character gain a degree of sympathy from the reader. The interweaving layers of Kit’s past allow the reader to flesh out what on the surface is an unlikeable protagonist.
The plot, such as it is, is arguably secondary to Kit’s character. Whilst there is a narrative layer underneath, the main focus is firmly on her and her life. The never ending procession of nefarious characters she attracts leads to masterfully written scenes, which one would expect from someone of Block’s quality.
Compelling and engrossing, Getting Off proves Lawrence Block, in whatever guise he assumes, is still at the top of his game. At times vastly shocking, at others highly humorous, Getting Off is recommended to any crime fiction lover who can handle the hardcore sex and violence, and is looking for something a bit different to their usual read. Currently the book is only available in hard cover, but hopefully will appear digitally soon.
Hard Case Crime
CFL Rating: 4 Stars