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Unlicensed PI Matthew Scudder returns after a three-year absence to investigate the murder of a wealthy couple savagely slain in their Manhattan townhouse. Matt's now 62, and his age shows in this relatively sedate outing. There's less violence than in many cases past, and the urban melancholy that pervaded his earlier tales has dissipated, replaced by a mature reckoning with the unending cycle of life and death. The mystery elements are strong. To the cops, the case is open-and-shut: the perps have been found dead, murder/suicide, in Brooklyn, with loot from the townhouse in their possession. Matt enters the scene when his assistant, TJ, introduces him to the cousin of the dead couple's daughter; the cousin suspects the daughter of having engineered the killings for the inheritance. At loose ends, Matt digs in, quickly rejecting the daughter as a suspect but uncovering evidence pointing to a mastermind behind the murders. Block sounds numerous obligatory notes from Scudder tales past the AA meetings, the tithing of Matt's income, cameo appearances by Matt's love interest, Elaine, and his friend, Irish mobster Mick Ballou and he adds texture with some familial drama involving Matt's sons and ex-wife. His prose is as smooth as aged whiskey, as always, and the story flows across its pages. It lacks the visceral edge and heightened emotion of many previous Scudders, however, and the ending seems patly aimed at a sequel. This is a solid mystery, a fine Block, but less than exceptional. (Nov.)Forecast: All Blocks sell and Scudder's return will do particularly well, especially with the attendant major ad/promo, including a 17-city author tour. Simultaneous Harper Audio and Harper large print edition.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is the 15th Matthew Scudder novel in 25 years, and readers of Block's noir series know what to expect. It's all here: a perfect evocation of the sights, sounds, and smells of New York City; trips to AA meetings in church basements; Mick Ballou's bar; and the recurring characters such as Ballou, the streetwise TJ, and Elaine, the civilizing influence. In this latest outing, Matt and Elaine attend a "Mostly Mozart" benefit concert at Lincoln Center. At the same concert are a couple who are later murdered in their Upper West Side apartment. Then, the "murderers" are themselves killed in Brooklyn. Without anyone really asking him to, and for want of something better to do, Scudder starts to pick at this case until the whole story unravels before him to a startling conclusion. Every so often, the real murderer narrates a chapter, which adds a cat-and-mouse element. But those looking for fast action will not find it here the pace is leisurely, and characters and set pieces are almost as important as plot. Recommended, especially for public libraries, where readers will ask for it.
- Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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