When the Sacred Ginmill Closes Mass Market Paperback – Apr 30 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
The prolific, Edgar Awardwinning Block has written many mysteries, most in assorted series with colorful protagonists. Featured here is Matt Scudder in his follow-up appearance to Eight Million Ways to Die. Scudder is a former New York cop, now an unlicensed private detective who does favors for friends. Divorced from his wife, who lives with their sons on Long Island, Scudder rooms in a West Side hotel. His real home, however, is any one of three or four local bars, and his family are their owners, staff and habitues. In the summer of 1975, Matt is busy with assorted favors. Tommie Tillary, an investment salesman in flashy clothes, whose wife has been murdered in Bay Ridge, needs to be cleared of suspicion. The real booksas opposed to those shown to the IRSstolen from Skip Devoe's bar must be ransomed, and the masked gunmen who robbed the Morrisey brothers' after-hours place have to be identified. Drinking steadily all summer, Scudder accomplishes all of the above, his intuition, doggedness and respect for a higher law sputtering through the alcoholic haze. Block is an accomplished storyteller, and Matt Scudder is a fine example of hero as human being. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Ambitious and intense...A compelling and memorable novel." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Chilling" -- Washington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is mildly engaging. But Block cannot really write at all well. He can't do character; he can't do dialogue and he can't do narrative rhythm. Of course that doesn't leave much.
Take character: his characters are generally given idiosyncratic habits, such as Scudder's of giving a portion of his earning to the church or his friend Skip's of stubbing out cigarette in drinks while at the same instant voicing facetious disapproval of so doing. This seems to be a clumsy efort to make these people distinctive but it doesn't work at all. They are intersubstitutable ciphers whose arbitrary and inadequately motivated idiosyncracies do not stop them from remaining dead on the page.
Thematically, this is a book about drunks, about people most of whose waking hours are spent sitting in bars sustained by whisky. But his characters don't really convince as drunks - they don't talk like drunks and they don't think like drunks - and the atmosphere of delinquent oblivion Block seeks to create is strikingly absent, perhaps, inter alia, because his prose is so lacking in in any kind of sensual conviction.
Suspense too is never delivered. Indeed the rather dull chapter 16, which tells the tale of the delivery of a payoff to recover some stolen account books could provide a textbook case of writing that is clearly intended to be gripping and full of suspense and isn't even faintly anything of the kind.
I'd been told Block was one of the very best American crime writers. If the sample I have read is at all representative, I hope that is wrong. If it's right, American crime writing is in some trouble.
"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" was written in 1986. Scudder narrates from the viewpoint of that year, but the story actually takes place 10 years earlier, when Scudder was still drinking heavily. It is very much a bar story; most of the action takes place in and around these establishments in New York City and its environs. There are many Irish in the story, as players, bartenders and owners, so there is always just a dash of an accent in the air. When the wife of one friend is murdered, and the illegal accounting records of another are stolen, Matthew Scudder is drawn in as 'a friend who does favors for money.' Scudder, an ex-cop who left the force when a ricocheting bullet accidentally killed a child, survives by being a not quite private eye in the moments between drinks.
This is a tough story, about hard-bitten people. While drinking hasn't destroyed the lives of any of Scudder's friends yet, it has hollowed many of them out. Beneath the smiling exteriors lie anger and greed and sorrow. As Matthew digs and considers in his search for answers, he uncovers much of the masquerade. This is a story about betrayals, some subtle and some not.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I think there was a possiblity of a great plot in there somewhere with some great characters but it read more like an authors notes than a book. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2003
Still an alcoholic. Still a dark, cynical, unlicensed P.I. Still has a twisted, dry sense of humor. But this book is different. Read morePublished on March 22 2003 by Robert T.
Block runs his alcoholic detective Matt Scudder through the bar scene of the 70"s in Manhattan. Read morePublished on July 19 2001 by Joseph Quinton
Even though mystery is not my favorite genre, I always make an exception for Lawrence Block novels, especially the Scudder novels. SACRED GINMILL is one of the best. Read morePublished on May 16 2001 by firstname.lastname@example.org
"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" ranks up there with "8 Million Ways to Die" as one of the best Matthew Scudder novels. Read morePublished on March 20 2001 by Brian D. Rubendall
Matt Scudder is living in a residential hotel in New York City after leaving his marriage of twelve years. A former police officer, Matt now works as a private investigator. Read morePublished on Dec 10 2000 by Peter Kenney
Although I have not read the entire Scudder series this particular book has always stuck with me, far more than any of the others. Read morePublished on May 2 2000
A grim and disturbing novel about crime, alcoholism and betrayal, this should have been gloomy and depressing, but, like his previous novels, Block is able to leave you completely... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2000 by John D. Costanzo