One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series the further I get into it is how unique each book feels. Sure, as with any writer one reads a lot of, I’m used to Block’s rhythms and characters but every plot and finale feels fresh. I’m ten books into this series and it’s remarkable that he can keep such a streak going. There are other series I like more than this one but I can’t say the same about them. Block is such a creative writer.
This is my monthly Hard Case Crime book, a reissue from HCC to promote the movie based on the book. I got it long before I delved into this series. I think I tried to read it once years ago but couldn’t get into it. Picking it back up, I start to remember why.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is kind of messy for a Scudder book. It begins with the perspective of the client instead of Scudder, which felt weird to me and I wonder if that (and perhaps some other material) was tacked on for the benefit of the movie-going crowd. I was never really able to connect with the clients the way I normally do. And while Block is great at making Scudder’s shoe-leather detective work seem exciting, here it just felt boring with the endless searching for payphones. I just couldn’t connect with the tension and drama the way I normally could. Add on the sadism that felt too familiar from the last Scudder novel and…I don’t know, this one just didn’t work for me.
It’s a Scudder novel so it’s still fun to watch him work and again, I had no idea how it was going to end. Block also dips into Matt and Elaine’s relationship in a heartrending way. So it’s not a hopeless cause but it’s far from his best work.