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You Could Call it Murder

Lawrence Block: You Could Call it Murder (USA 2016)

From the Publisher:
"A missing person case brings private eye Roy Markham to the remote winter-bound college town of Cliff's End, New Hampshire. But what began as a routine investigation quickly becomes dark and dangerous. Six pornographic photos and a tidy little blackmail scheme result in a brutal and baffling murder, and no one is safe - especially Markham himself."

That's the product description for Blackstone Audio's excellent rendition of You Could Call It Murder, expertly voiced by Peter Berkrot, and we could leave it at that-but there's an interesting backstory to the book, and the Classic Crime Library seems a good place to share it with you.

In 1961, Lawrence Block was living in New York and earning a living writing Midcentury Erotica and crime fiction. He'd just sold his first book under his own name, Grifter's Game, to Gold Medal Books. (They insisted on calling it Mona, but the original title's been restored by Hard Case Crime.) His agent got him an assignment to write a tie-in paperback novel for Belmont Books, linked to the TV series Markham, starring Ray Milland.

The book turned out well, and the young writer's agent felt it was too good to be a Belmont tie-in. Knox Burger agreed, and Block changed the name of the hero from Roy Markham to Ed London, and Gold Medal published the book as Death Pulls a Doublecross. (Another unfortunate title; you'll find the book in the Classic Crime Library with the author's original title, Coward's Kiss.)

But that left Block owing Belmont a book. You Could Call It Murder is what he wrote for them, and it turned out fairly nicely as well, but his agent sent it to Belmont all the same, where they published it as Markham: The Case of the Pornographic Photos. (By the time it came out - surprise surprise - the TV series was canceled.)

Is everything clear?

THE CLASSIC CRIME LIBRARY brings together Lawrence Block's early crime novels, reformatted and with new uniform cover art.

Lawrence Block: You Could Call it Murder. LB Productions (Classic Crime Library), ISBN: 9781523937714 (February, 2016), 202 p., $9.99.

 

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