My tour through Matthew Scudder’s New York continues. This is another solid entry in the series.
I was a little concerned when I saw Matthew drinking at Armstrong’s and other places on the west side. It seemed to negate the ending of Eight Million Ways to Die. Was Block going to retcon everything or just pretend it didn’t happen?
However, the reader soon realizes the whole time this is a flashback novel of something Matthew did in 1975, while he was still binge drinking. And while there’s enough for a book, it doesn’t feel shoehorned in. It feels like a quality, authentic Matthew Scudder tale.
There are two running threads in this one that somewhat connect together and all involve an Irish bar and a bunch of Irish-American folks who are Matthew’s drinking companions. One thread works better than another and the book drags in the middle a bit. But Block knows what he’s doing and is able to stick the landing more or less.
The mystery element to the first thread was somewhat interesting, not as much as for who did the robbery bit but how Matthew goes trying to unfold the case. The other is fine but predictable. Yet both do what Block does so effectively in this series: provide a pastiche of 1970s New York City in all its grim, gritty glory.
I wouldn’t say this is the best of the series but it’s definitely up there. Again, while I don’t think Block handles the plot as smoothly as he could have, he is at the very least competent with it and that’s all I’m going for. Throw in his good prose and it makes for a good read.