In the Midst of Death Audio Cassette – Jun 2000
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From Library Journal
Block's detective, Matthew Scudder, the former New York City police officer, now tries to discover who killed a call girl and pinned the murder on a policeman who is cooperating with an investigation into corruption. The story is very tight and well written and filled with a cross section of New York City denizens. The person who hired Scudder is blatantly crooked, and Scudder himself was involved with both money and women while on the force. However, as with the other entries in this series, the compelling focus is the detective's battle with alcoholism. As presented in A Stab in the Dark, Scudder's drinking increases; he functions well enough to solve the case, but suffers more and more from the effects of the booze. Reader Alan Sklar does an excellent job; recommended for all audio collections. Stephen L. Hupp, Urbana Univ., OH
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Lawrence Block was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2004. He is also a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. He is the author of many novels and short stories and has won numerous awards for his mystery writing. He lives and works in New York City. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's a good book, but it doesn't measure up to the high standards set by other volumes in the series. Part of this is because there's not enough focus on the characters. Seems strange to type that about Lawrence Block, who normally writes great characters. This time around it feels like he wasn't sure where he wanted to go with the series, so Matt is the same at the end of the book as he was at the beginning. He's simply there to go through the motions and solve the crime.
However, even on Block's worst day, he's better than most writers on their best day. So the book will still entertain you and it's worth reading. Just don't expect to be blown away this time.
This is one of the darker books in the Matt Scudder series with Matt sinking into a growing depression and succumbing to the bottle with increasing regularity. Although sinking heavily into alcoholism in this book, he still manages to hold it all together enough to perform his job admirably well.
Scudder is a very interesting character, but he is also defined by the actions that he can't explain, even to himself. A perfect example of this is his habit of tithing. He admits that he is in no way religious, yet every time he is paid, he tithes ten per cent of his earnings to the nearest church. The amusing part is that Scudder can't explain why he does it and reacts to it with head-shaking bemusement.
This is a typical hardboiled mystery, sometimes despairingly so, featuring a character who grows more fascinating and enigmatic the more we find out about him.
You can pick up the Scudder novels in just about any order and be intrigued. For the most part, they are each independent books. Each one is a terrific detective novel. If you think these novels are going to be about a hardboiled detective with a fedora and a sexy secretary taking dictation, you will be quite surprised. Although derived from the hardboiled tradition, the Scudder books are different. Scudder is an old-fashioned detective who puts together little bits and pieces and figures things out by dogged work.
Scudder, if you did not know, is a former police officer. One night, off duty in a bar (where else would he be), he sees two guys hold up the joint and take out the bartender. Pursuing them outside, Scudder took them out, but a stray bullet from his gun ricocheted into the skull of a seven-year-old girl, ending her life. The shooting was found justified, but Scudder lost the desire for police work, the desire for his married life, and holed up in Hell’s Kitchen, doing favors for people in return for a few bucks. It is a dark period of his life and he literally tries to drown his troubles in booze.
“In The Midst Of Death” is a terrific detective story and certainly deserves five stars. An officer (Jerry Broadfield) has had it with graft and crooked double-dealings and has talked to a special prosecutor. No one on the NYPD has any love for him anymore and someone put a call girl up to alleging that Broadfield has been demanding weekly payments from her. Suddenly, the special prosecutor wants nothing to do with Broadfield and neither does anyone else. Scudder doesn’t like the guy, doesn’t like the fact he can’t tell when the guy is lying or not. He talks to the call girl, who is mesmerizing to him. When the call girl ends up slashed apart in Broadfield’s apartment, the whole world is ready to parade him up to the Attica and Scudder is about all Broadfield’s got. Scudder doesn’t think the crime makes any sense. Broadfield is way too smart to leave a dead body in his apartment. Scudder pokes around here and there, trying to figure out the connections, trying to figure out what went on.
The novel is perfectly paced and I, at least, found that it was hard to put down. It has a dark, hard feel to it, but it is not another remake of the classic hardboiled fedora-wearing detective. This is a novel with depth and substance to it and you can see how Block’s writing has matured.
Five stars for this one.
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