It’s possible that I’m one of the very few people who will read this book who has never read a Matthew Scudder novel before. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read any novel by Lawrence Block. I’ve been wanting to read some of Block’s work, and I’ve been in the mood for some ‘hardboiled’ fiction so I thought I’d give this a try. I’m glad I did.
It should not surprise anyone that someone with Block’s publishing history knows how to tell a good story. What was a surprise, however, was how effortlessly Block managed to combine the classic, hard-boiled detective fiction popular in the 1950’s with the modern day world and modern P.I.
Though I’ve never read a Matthew Scudder novel, I feel as though I got a pretty good handle on the character from these stories. Starting with the first story in the collection, “Out the Window,” we get a idea of Scudder’s keen sense, and observation, his drive to find a conclusion, and that he’s willing to get pretty dirty to find the answers (“I spent the next five days picking the scabs off Paula Wittlauer’s life”).
In “By the Dawn’s Early Light” we see that Scudder isn’t afraid to do what’s ‘right’ (by his moral standards as well as the general morals of the population) rather than trusting a system that is set up to offer every protection to the accused (and thereby the guilty as well). The story is more a reflection on a past case and the current Scudder does say he would do things differently.
We also see that Scudder tends to look favorably on the downtrodden, doing what he can for them
I gather that the collection is a bit of a ‘good-bye’ to the character and the final story reflects this, with a core group of the characters gathered for a final time in a favorite local hangout. I suspect this is a place that appears in many of the books.
I really liked this collection and I will be seeking out some of Block’s Matthew Scudder novels based on my readings here. I don’t think I would call these mystery stories specifically (some of them clearly are, like the aforementioned “Out the Window”) but rather a ‘procedural’ or a detective story, where the focus is on a character or their methods instead of on the mystery itself.
This book contains the following:
A final, technical, note, which does not impact my review; this book, as it was sent to my Kindle, was stripped of some formatting so that the title of each new story was missing. In general, I could tell when a story was finished and therefore when a new one was starting, but I did need to go to the PDF that I was sent as well in order to really see the separation of stories. But I don’t like to read for pleasure from a computer screen – I do enough of that in my day to day work. Hopefully this is resolved for the actual sale purchases of the digital book.
Looking for a good book? The Night and the Music by Lawrence block is a collection of short stories featuring the author’s popular detective, Matthew Scudder. Fans of the Matthew Scudder books won’t want to miss this collection and newcomers, such as myself, will find they don’t need any prior knowledge of the character to enjoy these well written stories.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Night and the Music
author: Lawrence Block
publisher: Subterranean Press
hardcover, 232 pages