Private detective Matt Scudder investigates a series of kidnappings that always end in brutal murder. Best-selling author Lawrence Block takes us into the seedier back alleys and side-streets of New York City, rendering his subject with a gritty realism.
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THE THINGS PEOPLE DO TO EACH OTHER A lot of this is the mechanics of solving a serial killer case, starting from scratch. Their are no lucky breaks or things just falling in to place, Matt Scuder thinks things through and does the leg work, some of it with a lot of help from a street kid. It is a character driven story with lots of gore. Most of the gory parts you are not there as they happen, you hear about them later, yet they are still very gory.(Warning, gory) Example: a woman watches as a man cuts off one of her breasts with a garrote. She watches it slide down her side. If you are still with me, there are also some funny parts. The Kongs are computer nerds and hackers, who eat lots of chunk food and spend all day hacking into systems and getting things for free. They are a hoot. Scuder is an ex cop and often goes outside the law to solve a case. This book is very dated, rotary phones, phone booths, etc. Though dated it is a great listen.
THINGS CHANGE, THEY CAN'T DO OTHERWISE The really strange thing is, that I should not have liked this book. Matt is an ex-cop who is an alcoholic, (cliché, right). I have no sympathy for alcoholics, having been on the other side of the problem, and feeling it is a self inflicted thing. (I know I am politically incorrect, but those are my feelings.) Having said that I learned a lot about alcoholics, I did not realize that they go to meetings almost everyday. I did not know what they did in the meetings. More cliché, is that the cop's girlfriend is a hooker. It is a relationship I have a problem understanding. The book is kind of slow moving, with lots of thought and conversation over action. Block, like Asimov pulls it off, to the point that I really liked it. Probably the weirdest thing was the narrator.
YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO LISTEN REAL HARD, TO HEAR WHAT THEY WERE THINKING. This narrator talks so slow he makes Rudnicki sound like Speedy Gonzales. The guy reminded me of an old guy I used to work with. Sometimes it sounded like it took all his effort to push out one word. They kind of came out with a grunt and almost all the characters sound old, almost. He does a great job with the Kongs. Having said that, and I normally hate slow narrators, I loved this guy. A lot of reviewers have complained about him and you need to listen to the sample, but I felt that this was the way Block wrote the book and how he wanted it to sound. I am hoping he is the narrator for the other Scuder books. I felt he was Matt Scuder. I enjoyed the real way cases or solved and how good detectives get clues. Often he would try to find answers to questions he had, not knowing if the answer would be of any help.
P.S. YOUR HARDER TO GET THEN LUCKY This is just an aside that has nothing to do with the story. I first came across Lawrence Block through a short story in Warriors, a Science Fiction Anthology. Block normally does not write in that genre. The story (Clean Slate) was excellent, with excellent writing which made me want to search Block out and led me to detective stories that I normally don't listen to. Anthologies are great way to find new authors. It is also a great way for authors to widen their audience. I will be reading or listening to a lot more Lawrence Block in the future, regardless of the genre.