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 “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: 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.

 


Book: Nelson DeMille “The Panther”

August 4, 2017

I’m not sure why I am readying these.  The first John Corey “Plumb Island” was ok but seemed to repeat the key plot points too many times ..  this hasn’t got better and in this book just gets ridiculous!

Here we find Anti-Terrorist Task Force agent John Corey and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield sent to Yemen to draw out a US born terrorist “The Panther”  – they are bait.  But….  before they go John researches “The Panther” then they are briefed on this current political situation in Yemen and its historical context and more about “The Panther” and how important it is to catch or kill him.  Then they make it to the Yemen and are briefed again about the history and political situation … then they meet a new contact who takes them on a tour of the capital where they find out more about the history and political… on and on!

For me it was as if the author had done some very good and detailed research – great.  But I don’t need to know all of that detail in order to read a thriller. The plot (if you can dig down enough to find it) is interesting and it is hard to see how they will achieve their goals … but there is a lot of words to get through.  I will be glad when this series is over.


Book: Nelson DeMille “Wild Fire”

July 19, 2017

Fourth Nelson DeMille novel in the John Corey series (following Plumb Island, The Lion’s Game, Night Fall) sees John  and his wife, FBI Agent Kate Mayfield gong under the radar to investigate a missing colleague that takes them to the exclusive Custer Hill Club and a plot to detonate nuclear devices in American cities to trigger a response…

I find DeMille’s style frustrating, he takes a really long time to tell the story that feels as if he has done a lot of background research and can’t resist telling the reader all the irrelevant details.  However, the main character is very funny and engaging.  I’ve seen a review compare the John Corey character to Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H. “hilarious as a fictional character, but you’d probably hate him if you had to deal with him in person.”

So this was an enjoyable read, not as fast paced as it could have been but kept me interested right to the end.