Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Short Con Week 12 - By the Dawn's Early Light

I read Lawrence Block, and particularly his Matthew Scudder series, because it reminds me of the first time I really "got" crime fiction.  His book A Dance at the Slaughterhouse made me realize the conclusion of crime novels doesn't always end well.  Slaughterhouse actually ended in a rather bloody and disturbing manner.

I liked that. 

Before Block, when I thought of crime fiction, I conjured up parlor scenes, cops flashing badges, and bad guys going quietly.   Butchers with guns going to an early morning mass never crossed my mind.

Discovering Scudder opened up "that whole new world" that people often talk about.  At that time, there were at least ten other Scudder novels, and each time I went to the used bookstore down the street I grabbed one more.  I didnt' read them in order, which would normally drive me insane, but it was fun piecing the history together in a Memento fashion.

It's been a while since I've read Block.  The whole point of this year was to discover as many new authors as I could.  Block would have to be moved to the back while I read the likes of Gischler, Swiercyznski, and about 43 Norwegian authors.  (What is it with that country and mystery writers?)

The point is, I kinda miss Matt Scudder.  I wanted to go and walk the streets of Manhatten with him again, visit those bars he is so familiar with.

Today, I found a loophole in my own rules.  I was digging through a copy of Brooklyn Noir 2, looking for a short to read for today when I happened to stumble across that familiar name.  It wouldn't be like a full visit or a meal with a friend, more like a cup of coffee, but it would be enough.

Of course, the story was excellent.  Matt takes a job for a friend, and it ends up biting him a bit.  Tommy Tillary's wife has been murdered, and knowing that he is going to be a suspect, he wants Matt to look into the two guys the police have brought in for questioning. In typical Scudder fashion, he uses his own code of honor to determine what exactly should be done, and who really needs to be punished.  The short reads just like a novel, only condensed and without the usual twists and turns.

A great cup of coffee though.


  1. I worship at the altar of Lawrence Block.
    I was introduced to HITMAN in 2001 and haven't stopped since, Slaughterhouse and Sacred Ginmill are his best in a long line of great books.
    I've read this volume of Brooklyn Noir as well because of the strong lineup of writers, and Block's was the most enjoyable.

  2. You're freaking me out Gary! Slaughterhouse and Ginmill are my two favorite as well. And I know it was personal for Block, but I really prefer the alcoholic Scudder.