I knocked out two books over the weekend, both good enough in their own ways.
The Night and the Music 4 stars
I’ve never really liked short stories but I like Matthew Scudder and, aside from a novella, this is all that I have left to get from his tale. And I enjoyed each story on its own in some way. The mystery ones were fun but the ones where we see Scudder’s humanity are often better. I do wish the Mick Ballou ones were longer as they really served to be a coda on Matt’s life but they weren’t mysteries so I guess it’s just as well. It would have been fun to see those two warhorses discuss death at a greater length but one celebrates what one can get. All I have left is the novella and that’s it for Scudder stories. Life goes on.
Top of the Heap 3 star
This month’s Hard Case Crime was chosen because of the upcoming Perry Mason tv series on HBO. I’ve never read something by Mason’s creator Erle Stanley Gardner. I found it tough to get into as there’s not much characterization and I didn’t fully understand the dynamic between Cool and Lam (this is book 13 of a long running series). However, the mystery was interesting and well-plotted. I wasn’t invested in who was doing what but I was excited to see how it shook out. I can see how Gardner got his rep for creating complex stories in simple pulps. It would make for good tv writing.