In 2005, Johnny Temple of Akashic Books chose me to edit an anthology of new dark stories set in Manhattan. Manhattan Noir was duly published the following year. Besides soliciting and selecting stories, my duties included writing both an overall introduction to the volume and an original story of my own.
The story I wrote, set in the same Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood that's home to my detective hero, Matthew Scudder, was "If You Can't Stand the Heat." (And in fact the bar where the story begins bears a definite resemblance to Grogan's Open House, where Matt's friend Mick Ballou holds court.)
I didn't know very much about the young woman who stars in "If You Can't Stand the Heat," not even her name. I learned more as I found myself moved to record further adventures for her. Her name kept changing, as did her base of operations; her life style rather compelled her to be peripatetic, and to change identities along the way
At one point it became evident that I was writing a novel on the instalment plan, and Hard Case Crime published Getting Off in the fall of 2011. I've since realized that several of its episodes, originally written as short stories, stand up fine on their own—and have decided to make them available in that form.
If You Can't Stand the Heat is the first of these. If you want to read more about Kit, #2 is Rude Awakening, set in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
A bit of a surprise in places as his heroine turns this 15 page story on its head with Block showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet and a few shenanigans in the bedroom. I’m unused to a lot of the author’ action taking place in between the sheets, but then again I’m sure he cut his teeth back in the late 50s and early 60s writing soft porn.
A lot more going on here than an orgasm or two. We get our main lady’s back story and a feel for her current activities. Kit Tolliver – not someone I’d care to meet in a bar, but someone I’m going to enjoy reading about. A satisfying climax at the end of our tale!
4 from 5
I got this one a year or two ago on Amazon and decided to read it once I heard the next two episodes were going to be available for free last week on the same site.
There’s 12 Kit Tolliver vignettes in total, but at some point I’ll be ponying up to get the full treatment by investing in Hard Case Crime’s Getting Off, unless of course Mr Block decides to let the give the last 9 away for free!