Lawrence Block is Jill Emerson: The Trouble with Eden (USA 2016)
From the Publisher:
The art gallery was in New Hope, right across the river from Lambertville. New Hope had long had a reputation as an artists' colony and boasted a little theater and a batch of art galleries, along with bookstores and antique dealers and cute little shops to sell cute little things to tourists, most of whom were neither cute nor little.
I found a store for rent and signed a year's lease. Nowadays it's hard to get me to go see a movie or buy a new shirt, but back then I'd embark on the wildest adventure on not much more than a whim.
I knew nothing about business, but that was okay, because the gallery didn't do any. After a year, my lease was up and I was out of there. It was a learning experience, and what I learned was not to make that particular mistake again.
And I did meet some interesting people, and hear some interesting stories. And, when it came time to write a big trashy commercial novel, I knew right where to set it.
By this time I'd written three erotic novels for Berkley Books as Jill Emerson. Now I don't know who thought that Jill ought to write a big, juicy, trashy Peyton Place type of book, but my agent brought the idea to me, and I thought Bucks Country would provide a good setting.
The deal was an attractive one, with a hefty advance. Berkley was a division of Putnam, and the deal was hard/soft; the book would be first a Berkley hardcover, then a paperback.
When we'd first moved to the country and I found I couldn't get any writing done there, I went into the city and wrote a book in a week. Soon after that Brian Garfield and I took a place together at 235 West End Avenue. We hosted a weekly poker game there, stayed over when one or the other of us had a late night in the city, and got some writing done. I believe Brian wrote most of Kolchak's Gold there. I wrote a batch of things, too, and one of them was The Trouble with Eden.
Berkley had hoped for a bestseller, but they never put any muscle into the book and didn't sell many copies.
Reviewers overlooked it completely, with a single curious exception. A reviewer in Esquire launched into a lengthy discussion of a book he'd picked up a week earlier without great expectations. It looked like trash but turned out to be far more gripping and involving than he anticipated. Well-wrought characters, interesting plot developments -- really pretty good.
And then suddenly the review hung a U-turn, and its author said that further on the book turned out to be trash after all and, on balance, a big disappointment. I'll tell you, it was as though the reviewer read half the book, wrote half the review, ate a bad clam, finished the book, and went on to finish the review. I can't say I minded -- it was, as they say at the Oscars, victory enough merely to be nominated -- and I can't say I disagreed with its conclusion. But it was damn strange.
Ah well. It's probably not a good book, but I have a warm spot for Eden. Like the curate's egg, I think parts of it are very good.
Lawrence Block is Jill Emerson: The Trouble with Eden. CreateSpace Publishing, ISBN: 9781539543893 (October, 2016), 366 p., $14.99, eBook $.4.99.