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All The Flowers Are Dying Mass Market Paperback – Feb 9 2006

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (Feb. 9 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061030961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061030963
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #393,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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When I got there, Joe Durkin was already holding down a corner table and working on a drink-vodka on the rocks, from the looks of it. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 60 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By eb - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Block is probably the premiere mystery writer working today. He knows how to create full and rich characters, well paced plots, make his words sing with a rhythym all their own. Block also takes chances, ages his players in real time and provides the reader with plenty of color.

However "All The Flowers" just didn't click for me the way most of the other Scudder books did. There was far too much of the killer's thoughts, his stream of consciousness slowing the read down. It detracted from the sense that this was Matthew Scudder's world. Also, the changing back and forth from the first to third person also seemed to interfere with my enjoyment of the book.

The writing was consciously imbued with an analysis of and comments on mortality, obviously something Block was aiming at...everyone's a bit older and reacts to situations with the reality that people and things change with the passage of time. While this did not bother me, it did stand out more when contrasted against the elements I found lacking and hence slowed things down.

I'm glad Block has continued to let Scudder evolve. But the bottom line is that "Flowers" was like going to a favorite restaurant. The joint was still packed, the menu and staff pretty much the same. But the service was a bit slower, the trappings somewhat faded and the meal just wasn't as satisfying as it used to be.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Weakest Scudder Novel in Quite a While June 4 2006
By Richard A. Jenkins - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I liked "All the Flowers are Dying" well enough to finish it, but I can't say I would highly recommend the book. The Scudder series has suffered from fatigue, although the last book was a big improvement over its immediate predecessors. This one will appeal to people like me who are hooked on the series, but I doubt that it would make a good introduction to Scudder for someone new. New York has changed, Scudder and the major characters have all aged, and Scudder's alcoholism has faded into the background. There's a loss of tension and angst in his life and in his relationships with others. Scudder's favorite cop has retired and there appears to be a replacement in a "college boy" who provides rather predictable turns to the plot. Serial killing seems out of place in the semi-ordered world of Matt Scudder and really belongs in the world of John Sanford's Lucas Davenport, who does this much better. The killer and his full story arc became obvious to me much too early in the book and there's a teaser subplot that's not resolved very satisfactorily. The serial killer is a bit of a cartoon and the victims (or presumed victim, in one case) don't come fully to life. Elaine, who has always been an interesting part of this series, is stuck with a thankless, underwritten part as a rather inert victim. In general, Block's stock company of characters seem tired, rather than "evolved" and it wouldn't hurt Block to move on to something else. Sadly, the last book in the "Burglar" series also was a disappointment. My advice to anyone who hasn't read Block is to start at the beginning--the books up until the mid-90s (when Block was cranking them out too quickly) are all worthwhile. For fans, this one is a way to get caught up with Scudder, but don't be surprised if it leaves you feeling like it's time for him to retire.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Larry's Off His Game March 2 2005
By Jim B. Otoole - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that I love the Scudder series. With that out of the way, Block's been off his game on his last few books beginning with Hope To Die, the previous Scudder book. The alternating between Scudder's first person narrative and the third person seems a ploy to reinvigorate a series that was doing just fine. But, it's not just that; the pace and narrative is lacking. Descriptions of day to day goings on seem to just fill space rather than move the story along. Mick, TJ, and Danny Boy Bell seem to make only regulation appearances that add little to the story.

Too bad. Martin Cruz Smith once wrote a review of one of Block's earlier Scudder books, When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, saying "Much more than a mystery...A book about men, about booze, about New York, by one of the surest, most distinctive voices in American fiction." Here here.

If you're new to the Scudder series, pick up Ginmill or Out on the Cutting Edge, two great examples from this otherwise excellent series. If you're an old fan, read 'em again, they don't disappoint.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Margaret Gipe - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lawrence Block is an elegant writer. His Matthew Scudder is one of the very best serial detective characters ever created in the world of mystery fiction. Starting with the very first Scudder, The Sins of the Fathers, his novels have been rich with three-dimensional characters; his dialogue real and gritty. One reviewer said that Block "writes about the sleazier aspects of life with style, compassion, and wit." Another stated "his crime novels come so close to literature that there's no degree of difference". But sadly, the last two Scudder novels haven't come close to Blocks first 8 Scudder novels., which, admittedly is a great achievment. But when you have become used to true quality, it is a great disappointment to see a novel like this. "Flowers" uses the tired, over-done cliche of the serial killer, instead of going the much harder but so much deeper and worthwhile route of creating several, multi-dimensional characters with real, believable motives to kill. One's time would be much better spent in reading Block's earlier Scudder novels, the very best of which were "In the Midst of Death" "8 Million Ways to Die", "Out on the Cutting Edge" and "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes". I have seen too many mystery writers who, sooner or later, began to crank out formulaic, write-'em- by-the-number, cheap novelettes. Margaret Gipe
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Hopefully the last Matthew Scudder novel Jan. 15 2008
By Denny Gibbons - Published on
While this book is not without its merits, it was overall a very mediocre product that is disappointing coming from masterful crime writer Lawrence Block. If this is the quality of book he's producing nowadays, I'm hoping he's decided to let this be the last Matthew Scudder mystery.

Block is really good at interesting and believable dialog (although he's not very good at giving characters different voices), and his prose style is usually involving. But this novel really suffers under the slow pacing and cookie-cutter plot. I also feel that Block wasn't very subtle about many different plot points; leaving nothing to the imagination, he falls into the trap of over-explaining something to the point of insulting the reader's intelligence.

My biggest problem with this book was the bad guy, a chameleon-type serial killer with no motives for his killing. A huge portion of the narrative is told from inside the killer's mind, and it quickly becomes tedious and unbelievable. The killer is rendered as more of a cartoon character that would never really exist in reality. I wish writers would ease up on the tired formula of "a ridiculously brilliant serial killer goes on a motive-less killing spree and outwits the police at every turn." Rather than intrigue the reader with a fresher character, the stock character of the brilliant serial murderer is mostly tiresome because he's so obviously a contrived creation of the author and not a frightening depiction of someone who may actually exist. For a really great book that truly gets inside the mind of a psychopathic personality, read Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me." The killer in this book, however, is unbelievable and clearly the creation of a sane author who tries and fails to get inside a killer's mind.

There's also far too many coincidences for my liking. I don't want to go into details and spoil plot points for anyone, but you'll see what I mean if you decide to read it. It's truly a sign of lazy writing when implausible plot points arise to connect virtually every character in the book.

I wouldn't recommend this book, although it's not terrible. But it's certainly not of the same quality as Block's older works, which I would recommend you read instead.