Saturday, August 21, 2010

A New (to me) Scudder Novel

Just finished A Long Line of Dead Men, one of the Matthew Scudder books by Lawrence Block. A great read, especially the conversations between Scudder and Mick Ballou, Scudder and Elaine, and Scudder and Ray Gruliow. Not as dark as some of the earlier Scudder books (this one is copyright 1994, and Scudder's life is pretty well together at this point), but that's not a significant detraction. Is it one of the better ones? Eh, hard to say -- they're all good -- but at minimum, it's as good as the best ones in the series.

If you've never read the Scudder books, and you like first person private eye stories, you're in for a treat. Although there may be a little bit of additional pleasure to be gained by doing so, you don't need to read them in chronological order.

Some excerpts available here and here.

(h/t: TC, for introducing me to the Scudder books, lo those many years ago)


Anonymous said...

Looks good, thanks.

I don't read a lot of fiction these days, or if I do it's a huge Neal Stephenson tome. Something a bit less cerebral is sometimes called for, and some gritty crime novel like this sounds just the ticket.

bjkeefe said...

If you get it, I hope you like it.

I definitely know what you mean about the nice change of pace of reading a good old detective story as a way to take a break from weightier tomes or to wind down at the end of the day. I've had that taste for decades now, even when going to bed during college with my head pounding from reading. The only problem these days is that I am getting pickier about what I like. I used to be able to read pretty much any murder mystery, but now, they actually have to be good. Nothing worse than being angered by wooden prose or superficial characters right before you go to sleep.

TC said...

I think Block ran out of ideas and had Scudder settle down in the last few books. I think Matt needs to fall off the wagon and start drinking again. A Long Line of Dead Men is still OK as I recall, but somewhere along there Scudder stops drinking and goes all domestic on us. As good as the Matt Scudder books are (my personal favorite) Block's other series aren't as good. I don't care for the Rodenberry series or the Tanner series and especially the series with Chip something or other as the character. But it doesn't get any better than the Matt Scudder series for gritty crime/detective genre.