If the only side of Lawrence Block you know is the dark and gloomy Matt Scudder books, such as the noir classic When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, then you might be surprised to hear that he's also one of the most delightfully droll writers in the mystery business.
"I hurried uptown and changed into chinos and a short-sleeved shirt that would have been an Alligator except that the embroidered device on the breast was not that reptile but a bird in flight. I guess it was supposed to be a swallow, either winging its way back to Capistrano or not quite making a summer, because the brand name was Swallowtail. It had never quite caught on and I can understand why." That's Bernie Rhodenbarr, used book dealer and gentleman burglar, making a literary fashion statement in this latest return to print of one of Block's best books about him.