All the Flowers Are Dying Mass Market Paperback – Feb 28 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Matt Scudder, bestseller Block's extraordinary private detective, has been around for almost 30 years, and if his aging has been neither gentle nor graceful, it's certainly been eventful. In his stellar 16th outing (after 2001's Hope to Die), the 60-something Scudder proves to be as tough and resilient as ever when faced with the slickest, sickest killer to ever test his mettle. Fans won't be surprised that the killer is linked to the unresolved murders of Hope to Die or that Elaine and Scudder may become the fiend's target. The narrative smoothly shifts between Scudder's point-of-view and the thoughts and actions of the killer, whose ingenuity, daring and pure viciousness sear the pages. Aware of the danger but without a clue to the person behind the threat, Scudder and Elaine are forced into a protective siege while Scudder uses all his skills to probe the mystery. Series fans will welcome the familiar characters and places that have become such an important part of Scudder's universe: TJ, Mick Ballou, Grogan's Bar, the AA meeting spots. Add them together with some brilliant twists and one gets a thrilling, satisfying concoction brewed by a master storyteller in top form.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Another powerful meditation on mortality in thriller’s clothing (Kirkus Reviews)
“A thrilling, satisfying concotion brewed by a master storyteller in top form.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“[A] mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense.” (Library Journal)
“Shows what a real crime novel can be in the hands of a master craftsman.” (ReviewingTheEvidence.com)
“Block, as always, takes his readers on a wildly entertaining ride.” (Buffalo News)
“Block, who couldn’t write a dull scene even if he tried to, is in fine form here.” (Los Angeles Times)
“A welcome addition to the Scudder mythos.” (Bookreporter.com)
“[Block] ratches up the suspense with breathtaking results as only a skilled, inventive and talented writer can do.” (Orlando Sentinel)
“An unforgettable tale of violence, death and deceit.” (Lansing State Journal)
“A page-turning work of art.” (Toronto Sun)
“The wit and thoughtfulness of which makes one feel better about how much one enjoyed the (very) grisly bits.” (Daily Telegraph (London) ** selected ALL THE FLOWER ARE DYING as one of the best American thrillers of the year)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.