Read as part of CBR15Bingo: nostalgia. This is the final book of a favorite series and it takes me back to when I began the series, as well as taking me back to a New York City that no longer exists.
Fifteen years ago (fifteen!), I passed a rainy afternoon while on internship to read a Matthew Scudder book by Lawrence Block. I didn’t know it was the second in a long-running series; I had just grabbed it off a cart. It was fine. I liked it but it was nothing more than adult babysitting.
Eight years ago (eight), I grabbed the first book from a used bookstore by accident because the premise sounded interesting. Again, a passable mystery, no more no less.
Years later, I was looking for a good, gritty New York mystery series. All roads led back to the Scudder novels. And I finally downed them.
And during the pandemic devoured them.
And oh my, do I love these books.
Having avoided them for so long because I didn’t care for anti-social drunk male PIs, I was pleasantly surprised to find that as Block fleshed the character out, he is a fully formed human being who confronts his alcoholism and solves cases with deep empathy. His traipsing around the Big Apple is a bonus; few write New York City better than Block.
So when I heard that the man, now in his 80s, was writing a fictional autobiography of Scudder as a capstone to his career, I just about lost my mind. I was so grateful to have the chance to read this.
And while it was good…I have to confess to a bit of disappointment.
Oh the writing is fine. Block’s prose is smooth. And it felt great to be back in Scudder’s shoes again.
The problem is that the biography itself encompasses the time from Matthew’s birth to his beginning as a PI. It’s like an extended Act I. And while we have fourteen books plus many short stories of Matt stories, I would’ve loved Matt’s perspective on the things he did over his career. How does he feel about the people he saved? The people he killed? The city that has changed so much?
So yeah, not all of what I wanted but enough of what I wanted and given Block’s age, anything was a bonus. Was a fun trip down memory lane, even if we got off too soon.