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When The Sacred Ginmill Closes [Mass Market Paperback]

Lawrence Block
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 1997 Matthew Scudder Mysteries
In the dark days, in a sad and lonely place, ex-cop Matt Scudder is drinking his life away -- and doing "favors" for pay for his ginmill cronies. But when three such assignments flow together in dangerous and disturbing ways, he'll need to change his priorities from boozing to surviving.

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Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Matthew Scudder prequel Jan. 8 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this book, Matthew Scudder reminisces about a period in the early seventies, when he was an alcoholic and helped out some of his drinking buddies. The narative is taut, the language is excellent and the scenarios are entirely plausible. This is perhaps one of Scudder's best books, although it is somewhat underrated. This book does not have the anticlimactic ending like in the later Scudder novels, and leaves the reader refreshed. I simply could not get up before finishing the book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Leaden June 26 2003
By snalen
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was none too taken with the first in the Matthew Scudder series "The Sins of the Fathers". But then I picked this one up at an airport, thinking I'd try something from a bit later before giving up. I'm afraid I think I'll give up now.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Falling Uphill Aug. 19 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was introduced to Lawrence Block's tales of Matthew Scudder relatively recently, but I believe I have made up for lost time. There is something about this tough guy detective that adds a level to these stories that similar series', such as Robert Parker's, do not have. No doubt this is due to Scudder's recovery from alcoholism. AA meetings and wisdom permeate the series, sometimes as a major theme and sometimes as background music. It never interferes with the story itself but it adds much to Scudder's character and makes the tales more accessible.
"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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unlicensed PI at work again! Dec 2 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
. Matthew Scudder is Lawrence Block's remarkable private investigator. He's a former NYPD detective who left the force after an accident left a child dead in a crossfire. Because he is unlicensed you can't "hire" him. Instead he does you a favor by taking your case and solving the crime. In exchange for the favor the client returns the favor by giving him some cash. Scudder is an alcoholic. Rarely do you find him without a drink in has hand or at one of has favorite watering holes. "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" takes place in 1975 when a telephone call still costs a dime. In this exciting novel we find Scudder searching for Skip Devoe's tax records. Tommy Tillary's wife is dead and our hero has to find who killed her and clear Timmy. Tim Pat's after-hours place is robbed and Matt has to find out who committed that crime as well. There are several intertwined plots, which makes this Block novel suspenseful and exciting. An afterthought: Matthew Scudder is a realistic, likeable character. In the early books we find that after he left the NYPD he took up drinking and left his wife and two sons. From time to time she asks Scudder to send more money because "we need it." Scudder generally obliges. Although not living with his family Scudder is not distant from them. He speaks to his boys on the phone and brings them into the city for a ball game. For some reason that Scudder doesn't know finds himself visiting churches and leaving a donation, tithing, ten percent of money recently received from a client. Scudder says Catholic churches receive donations for than others because they are generally open at late hours. Although he's not a religious man he finds peace and solitude in the almost always empty sanctuary he visits.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars What story?
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 more
Published on Sept. 20 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Scudder as you've never seen him...
Still an alcoholic. Still a dark, cynical, unlicensed P.I. Still has a twisted, dry sense of humor. But this book is different. Read more
Published on March 22 2003 by Robert T.
5.0 out of 5 stars Scudder not dry
Block runs his alcoholic detective Matt Scudder through the bar scene of the 70"s in Manhattan. Read more
Published on July 19 2001 by Joseph Quinton
5.0 out of 5 stars Words Are Not Enough
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 more
Published on May 16 2001 by readerextraordinaire@excite.com
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll want to visit this Ginmill
"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" ranks up there with "8 Million Ways to Die" as one of the best Matthew Scudder novels. Read more
Published on March 20 2001 by Brian D. Rubendall
5.0 out of 5 stars An Array of Runyonesque Characters
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 more
Published on Dec 10 2000 by Peter Kenney
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Scudder I have read
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 more
Published on May 2 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
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 more
Published on Feb. 4 2000 by John D. Costanzo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of a Great Series!
Just wanted to say this. I read this book years ago (I'm a fanatic about reading detective series in chronological order) and it's my favorite in the series. Read more
Published on Dec 1 1999
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