"Getting Off" Book Review
Written by Lawrence Block (writing as Jill Emerson)
2011, 335 pages, Fiction
Released on September 20th, 2011
Lawrence Block is one of the undisputed kings of hardboiled crime fiction. However, with Getting Off, a wonderful trip to his steamy past published by Hard Case Crime, Block steps away from his usual detective brilliance with something unique that can only be called "writing a Lamborghini." Yes, Getting Off is sleek, sexy, dangerous, intelligent, powerful and very, very fast.
Writing as Jill Emerson, Block's intelligence, humor, razor-sharp prose and knowledge of the killing game are on full display here. The book cover says "A Novel of Sex and Violence." Don't take this as an invitation; take it as warning. Far from teasing, the story is quick to deliver healthy doses of pain, blood, sex and deliciously premeditated murder. After reading it, you'll know why this book was put out by Hard Case Crime: few publishers would dare touch it. As for Block, this tome puts him in a realm all by himself as the absolute best author of sexy, noir, blood-spattered tales that move along at the speed of a stabbing knife.
Getting Off follows the sexcapades of Katherine Anne Tolliver, a woman that goes by different names in different cities. Gorgeous, blonde, coldblooded and a nymphomaniac, Kat, Kimmie or whatever her name is at any given time, crisscrosses the nation showing men the time of their lives before ending their days and emptying their pockets. However interesting and titillating this might be, Block is far from done; sex and violence are just two of the elements used to construct a very lovely sociopathic serial killer with a horrible past that puts readers on her dark, vicious and hazardous side.
As the novel progresses, we learn that the killer was her dad's "little soldier." The taboo caresses, kisses and other things her father did to her failed to turn the protagonist away from sex and instead created a sex machine. When the machine was suddenly not allowed to perform any more, something broke. The result was deadly. With a confused sense of love, a twisted introduction to relationships and an unquenchable thirst to kill the father she already killed once, Kat embarked on a life of constant traveling, intercourse and murder.
While the killing gives Kat a way to get off and provides her with the cash needed to keep moving, one day killing every new partner is not enough: she has to get to those that were left alive in her wake. The result of this is a fast-paced quest fueled by a warped sense of justice. Poisoning, stabbing and strangling her way across the nation, Kat runs into a woman who rents her a room in her home. The relationship, which starts off as sexual tensions released via some kinky games, eventually affects Kat in unexpected ways. As the novel spirals into a bloody denouement, Block somehow manages to speed up an already speedy novel and interlaces the narrative with a brutally honest and sensuous love story. As a bonus, the author anchors some of the interaction and humor by utilizing the word "cunt" in such marvelous ways that would put John Irving to shame.
By having the horrible ghost of her dad as a looming presence in her life, the reader is compelled to side with the vicious killer, even when she's unclothed and scalping a naked man she's just had sex with. Phone sex, lesbian fantasies and even some necrophilia make this book an interesting, gripping read that fans of horror, noir, crime fiction and anything that's well-written will enjoy in equal manner. Pick up a copy today.