Book 2 of 2017 – A Return to the World of Matthew Scudder….thanks to Lawrence Block
One of my Reading Challenges for 2017 is to catch up on a few of the mystery and thriller series that I am behind on. The series that I had in mind include: Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone or maybe Alex Berenson’s John Wells series. What I didn’t envision was going back to a series whose last book I read in, oh, 1994! Anyway, that’s what I did this week when I read In the Midst of Death – book number 3 in Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series. I really didn’t set out to read the book. It just happened to be sitting out on a pile of books in the basement, when I was looking for something. Anyway, I picked it up, and didn’t put it down until I finished it! Lucky for me it was only 246 pages long!!!
Now when I stopped reading the Matt Scudder books, I didn’t stop reading books by Lawrence Block. What I did was switch series and read his Bernie Rhodenbarr series, The Burglar who….. These books had a lot lighter reading than the Matt Scudder books. They were fun! Anyway I read seven of those books up until book 9 The Burglar in the Rye published in 1998.checking with Goodreads I see that there are three more books in the series. Hmm, maybe I wll come back to that series!!
Matthew Scudder Books I’ve Read
Anyway back to Matthew Scudder. I started to read that series in 1988. Good God! almost 30 years ago! The first book I read was When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes, book number six in the series.Somehow then I missed book 7 Out on the Cutting Edge and next read books 8 and 9 A Ticket to the Boneyard and A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, respectively. Cheery titles, eh? I guess after those I went for the lighter stuff!!
In The Midst of Death
Bad cop Jerry Broadfield didn’t make any friends on the force when he volunteered to squeal to an ambitious d.a. about police corruption. Now he’saccused of murdering a call girl. Matthew Scudder doesn’t think Broadfield’s a killer, but the cops aren’t about to help the unlicensed p.i. prove it — and they may do a lot worse than just get in his way. Read More
My Thoughts on In the Midst of Death
I really enjoyed this book and am now harboring thoughts of re-entering the world of Matthew Scudder. Which is the gritty side of New York City. Matthew is a an ex-cop. He seen life at it worst and for many years used alcohol to get him through it. It’s not until book #5 in the series Eight Million Ways to Die that Matthew comes to terms with his alcoholism. Matthew is a flawed man but he sees his flaws and tries to make amends.
Overall the pace of the book was good. The story line never dragged or gave you a reason to put it down. The plot had enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to who the murderer was. And as I’ve already said Matt and the other characters are terrific!
Lawrence Block Thoughts on Series Characters in Mystery Scene Magazine
In the holiday 2016 issue of Mystery Scene Magazine. Lawrence Block wrote an article titled “Some Thoughts on Series Characters”. In the article Block compares the characters of Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matthew Scudder. Her describes the Bernie Rhodenbarr series as a static series.
“Both Bernie and the private universe he inhabits stay essentially the same forever. i’ve never been specific about his age., but he is somewhere in his mid-30s in the first book . Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, first published in 1977 – and he is the same age almost 40 years later.
Bernie doesn’t age – and neither does he change. He’s not stuck in 1977, his home town of New York is up to date in whtever book you encounter him, and he has to be concerned about security cameras and high-tech locks, but he still leads the same life, earns the same unlawful living and has the same doomed relationships with women.”
“…..Matthew Scudder, on the other hand, has aged in real time from one book to the next. . That was never my intention when I began writing about him. I really didn’t give it much thought. but I assumed he’d go on drinking at Jimmy Armstrong’s Saloon as long as his liver held out.
But I discovered he had to age and he had to change. Unlike Bernie Rhodenbarr, Matthew Scudder lived in a far more realistic universe, and the books I was writing about him hewed to a more realistic line. How could he fail to be affected by the experiences he had in his previous adventure?”- From Mystery Scene Magazine Holiday 2016 p 28
Block goes on ti o discuss how in Book 4 (next up for This Man?) A Stab in the Dark. Matthew finds that his alcoholism was becoming more of a problem and ends with Matthew walking in, and then quickly leaving an AA meeting.
So I know that most of the series I read are not static. The characters change and evolve and that’s what I love about series. Joe Pickett and his family are not the same family that I met in Open Season sixteen books ago! Nor is Cork O-Connor and his family. Now Stephanie Plum I don’t know about!
How about anyone else? Have your favorite characters evolved or are they static?
Links for the Further Exploration of the Books of Lawrence Block