Are you a fan of volatile thrillers that involve calculating femme fatales and men with hardened hearts and illegal mindsets? How about intricate murder scenes that entail painful suspense? Do you prefer skillful grifters to arrogant money makers? Or all of the above? As a devoted reader of romance, I wasn’t certain. Crime and mystery have never been my first choice, yet I am always up for something new. One of my favorite library patrons – a regular with an animated personality – prefers audiobooks while she is traveling to work. Those special days when she would visit the library, on the hunt for a fun title, we would discuss our favorite authors. On one of her particular visits, she could not stop gushing about Lawrence Block. I had never heard of him, but he seemed quite popular according to the library catalog. Usually, I never take up requests from patrons if I am not interested in the genre, but there was something so vibrant in how my patron expressed her love for the author’s talent. “It is not only the book itself,” she explained,” but how he writes.” As a writer myself, I was hooked.
I displayed interest and she suggested one of her favorite titles by the author: The Girl with the Long Green Heart. So, I checked it out.
Shortly, I discovered my patron was right. This novel was a winner.
The pages unfold to introduce Johnny Hayden – a veteran con-artist, along with his younger and more charming long-time partner Doug Rance. Both men have their weaknesses. Rance’s is gambling in Vegas while Hayden’s is women. It is Rance who proposes the scheme to trick a “mooch” as they call it, a certain Mr. Wallace J. Gunderman, a rich businessman, who is not in the mood for tricks, to unknowingly purchase a piece of worthless Canadian land at a valuable price. Rance is ready to pounce, but for the first time Hayden is wary. Why? Because he had just been released from prison – the notorious San Quentin – only months ago, because he was finally free from his cell. No, of course he was not satisfied with his current assistant manager job at a local bowling alley and living in a hotel room, but the prize was worth it, he kept telling himself. The money that he and Rance would gain after all this was over, after all of the efforts of starting up their own mock business company, after role-playing all of the different identities, it was enough to purchase his dream – to be the grand owner of a perfect roadhouse. Not only Hayden thought, was the prize worth it, but so was she . . .
Miss Evelyn Stone, or Evvie – the girl with the long green heart.
This delectable siren is not only significant for the fact that she captures the title of this cunning novel, but Hayden falls for Evvie – not only for her insatiable beauty, but for her natural ability to scam a mooch. She joins the team because like her partners – Hayden and Rance – she’s hungry for a way out – a way out from Gunderman, her boss and her lover – and Hayden wants her, but he’ll have to go through Gunderman. Hayden, like anyone else, wants his dream to come true and with every dream there is a girl. Will he get both? Find out in award-winning novelist, Lawrence Block’s singular creation originally published in 1965.
This book is available for check out at the Central Library. I promise you will not be disappointed.