Book: Lawrence Block “A Stab in the Dark” (Matthew Scudder 4)

September 29, 2017

So I’m working through the Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block.  With some authors I read everything they publish in published order, other times I follow a single chracter and don’t care much if the author has other characters in his playbook.  That’s the approach here.  The Matthew Scudder novels so far are ok, I’m not enjoying the character as much as Harry Bosch or say Jack Reacher because there isn’t as much unraveling of the investigation.  But so far they are interesting enough to keep me working through the series.

bookIn this book the father of a murder victim Barbara Ettinger comes to Matt Scudder for help.  His daughter was the victim of ice-pick wielding serial killer who murdered 8 women nine years ago and was never caught.  Until now when recently released from a mental institution he is randomly picked up for carrying an ice pick and freely admits to the murders carried out nine years previously.  However, he only claims 7 murders and was locked up at the time of Barbara Ettinger‘s murder.  So the father who has come to terms with his daughter having been murdered by a serial killer has now to face the fact that someone she knew may have killed her and used the ice-pick murders at the time to make it look like another serial killer victim.

Scudders, often drunken, investigation is facinating turning up new leads on a long cold case.  This was a positive page turner and showed a lot more facets to Scudder’s character than the previous novels.

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Book: Lawrence Block “Time to Murder and Create” (Matthew Scudder 3)

September 29, 2017

Small-time crook known as “The Spinner” leaves an envelope with Matt Scudder only to be opened if he is killed.  He is then killed.

bookThe contents of the envelope is the blackmail material Spinner has on three people.   Believing one of these individuals was pushed too far he just has to figure out which one and let the others off the hook.

Matthew Scudder is both a complex and simple character with a clear moral code that drives through everything.


Book: Lawrence Block “In the Midst of Death” (Matthew Scudder 2)

September 8, 2017

In this story a cop who is in hiding because he is reveling corruption in the Department is accused by a prostitute of being on the take himself.  He turns to Scudder for help because no one in the department would be willing to help.

It turns out he isn’t clean at all, the prostitute is being guided by someone else and there is a web of corruption that quickly turns to multiple murders…  Scudder drinks his way around the investigation and gradually makes sense of what is going on.


Book: Lawrence Block “Sins of the Father”

August 29, 2017

My continuing search for nice long series of books with an interesting main protagonist finds Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder character.  This book, first published in 1976, introduces Scudder as an ex NYPD cop now taking on unlicensed investigations.  The father of an estranged daughter who has been murdered comes to Scudder to find out more about her life.  There appears to be no need to investigate her murder because her male faltmate was found at the scene ranting and covered in blood, he was arrested and a few days later killed himself – case closed.  But the father wants to know what kind of person his daughter had become.

Lawrence Block lets us follow the investigation as Scudder follows up paper trails, conversations and instinct to paint a picture of the girls life, and discover who really murdered her and why.  A very enjoyable read and I’ll certainly move straight onto the next Matthew Scudder novel.


Book: James Lee Burke “Lay Down My Sword and Shield”

August 20, 2017

I like reading books in long series rather than chopping and changing between different genres, characters, etc.  So when I come to the end of one it can be tricky to find out who to read next.  I tend to use book recommendation sites where you put in who you have read recently and out pops a few recommendations.  Which is how I came by this author – James Lee Burke and the first novel with this character, Hackberry Holland.

I really wish I had never found this book.  It was truly un-enjoyable.  In summary – there’s a lot of drinking and the main character decides not to run for office but helps poor workers instead.

Really boring book with so little happening that you can easily skip several pages with out missing anything happening.


Book: Michael Connelly “The Wrong Side of Goodbye”

August 20, 2017

I first met the Harry Bosch character when Amazon made the first season of ‘Bosch’ in 2014.  Being a reader I quickly read the entire back catalogue of Michael Connelly’s work from The Black Echo (1994) through to The Crossing (2016) which took me a little over a year (May 2015-2016).  So this is the first time since then that I have returned to this character, and it’s good to be back with an old friend.

Harry is now a private investigator and volunteers with San Fernando PD to clear their cold cases.  The book opens with a classic PI plot of a dying billionaire, full of regrest, asking Bosch to find any possible heir to his fortune.  As a young man he had an affair with a Mexican girl who then disappeared (possibly paid off by his father to do so).  Did she have a child from their affair, and if so what happened to the child?

Meanwhile in his work for the small San Fernando PD, Bosch has uncovered a link between several rape cases and is looking for more evidence to trace this before the man strikes again.  These two stories develop in parallel through the book with the usual detail that Connelly excels at, bringing to life the slow pace of investigation even when it is simply looking up records in archives.

Really good to be reading about Bosch again and a fascinating story.


Book: Nelson DeMille “Radiant Angel”

August 5, 2017

The last John Corey novel I’m going to read.

I like the main character and I like the intricacy of the plots DeMille writes.  In particular DeMille’s plots unfold in such a way that it is clearly impossible for Corey to succeed.. but obviously he does.

In this story John Corey is now with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group.following Russian diplomats.  For reasons that aren’t really obvious Vasily Petrov, a colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service posing as a diplomat starts an attack on New York harbor using a suit case nuke on a yacht.