Read When the Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block Online


Downing a bourbon or two with a couple of cronies, Scudder witnesses a heist. The Morrisey brothers who run the joint are strangely submissive during the raid, but eager to see Scudder track down the thieves without involving the regular forces of law and order....

Title : When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780752836997
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

When the Sacred Ginmill Closes Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-03-26 09:19

    This is a fine entry in the Matt Scudder series, but fans of conventional mystery novels may be somewhat disappointed, for it involves not one particular case, but three: the armed robbery of an after-hours joint, the extortion of a tavern for the return of its cooked books, and the murder of the wife of a patron of one of Matt's usual haunts. Scudder does eventually connect two cases and solve them, and he sort of solves the other case too, but there is a lot of conversation not germane to the detective work, and their connection and solution are almost beside the point. Well, just what then is the point? These three cases are a decade in the past, narrated by what is a now sober Matt in a meditative farewell to drink: to its taste, to its effects on the drinker, to the world where it is served and the colorful people found there, but, most of all, to the bond between drinker and world, a bond which the determinedly sober man may never experience again.As Scudder tells us, during the summing up:...when I look ten years into the past I can say that I would very likely have handled things differently now. Everything. All changed, changed utterly. I live in the same hotel, I walk the same streets, I go to a fight or a ball game the same as ever, but ten years ago I was always drinking and now I don't drink at all. I don't regret a single one of the drinks I took, and I hope to God I never take another.

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-04-09 03:55

    I absolutely LOVED this! I thought the last book I read in the series was excellent and yet some how this one feels like it surpassed it!When the Sacred Ginmill Closes is a line from a song by Dave Van Ronk, an old folkie from the 60s Village era. It's a slice of desperation and so is this awesome book!Our sort-of hero ex-cop turned kinda detective Matt Scudder has his plate full in this one, running around New York City for his friends and acquaintances trying to solve robberies and murders for them. When he's not busy doing that, he's busy getting his drunk on. Scudder has demons and on his downtime he tries to drown them. Much of the first half of this book is just descriptions of his favorite bars. It's sad as fuck, but also honest to the drunkard's point of view. It's also a great look at NYC back in the days before it was sanitized. Drinking may be his demanding hobby, but when it's game time, Matt gets his shit together for his friends/clients to "do them a favor" for a few bucks in an effort to solve a crime for them. In When the Sacred Ginmill Closes he's trying to solve three of them at once. That's a lot to ask of a character and a writer, but Lawrence Block proves once again why -if you like detective fiction or mysteries or hell even just reading about NYC in the 70s- you ought to be reading Block's very well written Scudder series! Get on it!

  • Greg
    2019-04-23 04:06

    A few years ago it became somewhat fashionable for like a month or two to talk about how Stephen King deserved to win literary awards. Because I'm lazy I'm not going to look it up, but I think he was even given some kind of lifetime achievement award from the folks who provide us with the National Book Award. It was around the same time that McSweeney's and Michael Chabon were flaunting their genre fiction cred and releasing the pretty much unreadble anthology of adventure stories. It's been longer than some of the people I'm 'friends' with here on goodreads have been alive since I've read a Stephen King novel (that wasn't the fairly unimpressive Colorado Kid), so I don't really know what the literary merits of his novels are (and I don't trust my teenage self to have any opinion worth having, since this same person thought that Motley Crue was the height of musical excellence), but I don't have the feeling that his novels were that good, I could be wrong though. If I were going to lead a campaign for a popular genre writer deserving of mainstream literary accolades I don't think I'd use the mega-best-selling Stephen King as the person to rally around. Personally, I'd go for someone like Lawrence Block or James Ellroy. Lawrence Block is surprisingly pretty amazing. This is the sixth novel in his Matthew Scudder series of novels. Who likes the sixth of anything in a series? By that point the author should just be phoning in stories, working the tried and true formulas and selling his books to the ever dimininsing group of readers who are still along for the ride. Generally no one is going to pick up a sixth book in a series and start reading from there. Right?Who would think that the sixth book in a series would rival the first one for being up there with the series best? The first one the is like a first date with someone that you are trying to impress, you know where you do whatever it is that people who date do to impress someone. By the sixth you're in a routine, maybe falling asleep in front of the TV at some point. This one doesn't start off all that strong. It kind of feels like other Scudder novels. There's a problem or two, some people need some help so they get a favor out of Scudder in exchange for some money that he gives a tenth of to some church that he passes by. He works on the problems, eventually figures out to some degree a solution and the book wraps up. This one starts like that, but slowly turns into a bitter melancholy love story of the past. Scudder doesn't really give a shit about the cases he's working. He drinks a lot and spends days wandering through parts of New York that no longer existed in the late Mayor Koch era that the novel was written in, and are now like ancient history to the present cartography of New York City.The novel takes place in the mid-70's, when New York was a much shittier place than it is now (or better depending on your outlook, but shittier in terms of seedier, poorer, more dangerous). You can't really walk the streets that Scudder moves about in and feel like you are walking in the same world. Hell's Kitchen today is not exactly a place where dive bars and drunks make up the dominant landscape. The novel comes in between (what I'm guessing, I haven't read the next book in the series yet) the moment when Scudder decides that he has to quit drinking and the first present day novel where he makes his way through his day to day activities without many coups of coffee with a liberal shots of bourbon in it. It's a flashback to ten years earlier, a time when he was drinking too much, not caring about much at all, and most likely on the verge of drinking even more after the events that take place in this book. Like the first novel in the series, the book doesn't start to shine until the last third or so, and as it moves towards the last pages it just gets darker and better with each chapter. Most of the city portrayed in this novel no longer exists. The neighborhoods are cleaner. Certain big buildings have collapsed, even smaller insignificant scenes, like the place in Sunnyside where Scudder and some friends go to see a few fights on a Thursday night is only remembered by a small plaque in front of a Wendy's fast food restaurant now. Like other Scudder novels, Woodside is home to a seedier element than I can imagine being here when I walk around doing my day to day chores. The book is partly a melancholy send off of the good old days, which maybe weren't so good, or good at all, and which maybe it's for all the best that they are gone, but which still sometimes hurt to to see gone. I'm not sure why I did, but I jotted this passage down while I was reading the book, so I'll share it:She extended a painted nail, touched my chin. "You don't want a man that's too cute, you know?"It was an overture, and one I somehow knew I didn't want to follow up on. The realization brought a wave of sadness rolling in on me out of nowhere. I had nothing for this woman and she had nothing for me. I didn't even know her name; if we'd introduced ourselves I couldn't remember it. And I didn't think we had. The only names mentioned had been Miguelito Cruz and Mickey Mouse.I mentioned another, Angel Herrera's. She didn't want to talk about Herrera. He was nice, she said. He was not so cute and maybe not so smart, but maybe that was better. But she didn't want to talk about Herrera. I told her I had to go. I put a bill on the bar and instructed the bartender to keep her glass full. She laughed, either mocking me or enjoying the humor of the situation, I don't know which. Her laughter sounded like someone pouring a sack of broken glass down a staircase. It followed me to the door and out.

  • Kemper
    2019-04-16 07:53

    I wish you could add sound effects to books because it would have been cool if the flashback noise from Lost would have played when I started reading this.According to Lawrence Block lore, he originally planned to end the Scudder series with the last book, Eight Million Ways to Die, and it certainly would have made a good stopping point. But Block owed a Scudder story so he wrote a short version of this that he liked it so much he expanded it to a book. Then he liked the book so much he decided to write more Scudder novels, and I am very glad he changed his mind about continuing Matt‘s story.The book opens with Matt having cocktails with some drinking buddies at an after hours club. Two men come in and rob the place at gunpoint. No one is hurt and Matt and his pals shrug it off as just another night in New York. But those who read the last book will find the beginning a bit jarring because Matt was struggling mightily to get sober so it’s shocking to read about him casually boozing it up again.What we learn in the second chapter is that Matt is telling us this story as something that happened years before during a summer in the mid-1970s long before he tried to quit drinking. This chapter is some of my favorite writing by Block because it consists of Matt reminiscing about what was going on in New York and what he was doing at the time. It’s an elegant bit of stage setting that makes you feel like you’re there in Manhattan circa 1975.The robbery of the after hours joint seems to kick off a series of random crimes involving the people who were drinking with Matt. The owners of the club are two IRA connected brothers who want to find the gunmen with no cops and they offer a ten thousand dollar reward for anyone who can tell them who did it. Matt thinks he has no chance of finding them, he does put some feelers out. Then the wife of Matt’s drinking buddy Tommy is murdered in what looks like a burglary gone bad, but the cops think he was involved. Tommy asks Matt to try and dig up definite proof that two men accused of the burglary also killed his wife. Another friend, Skip, calls on Matt for advice and assistance when someone steals his financial ledgers that would prove he’s been cheating on his taxes and now he’s being blackmailed for their return.Matt roams around New York working on all these problems as tries to drink up all the bourbon in the city. By telling this as an episode that happened years ago, there’s a sense of nostalgia to this one that reads as Matt saying goodbye to a phase of his life. I also loved the ending and how it shows Matt’s unorthodox methods of helping justice along. This is one of the best books of the Scudder series.

  • Carol.
    2019-04-16 08:15

    Oh Scudder novels, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:1) Period New York. This time it's a walk down memory lane to 1975. While Scudder remembers more about the sports scene than national politics, he also recalls that it was a big year for Black Russians and tequila sunrises. It's also a time of Irish dominance in Hell's Kitchen (anecdotal origin quote: "Hell's a mild climate. This is Hell's Kitchen"), a small rough, industrial down-and-out section of New York. Irish toughs with connections to the IRA have a strong influence in the area, not the least of which are the owners of Morrissey's after-hours club. Then there are the timeless city people: "I generally bought the paper there, unless I bought it from the shopping-bag lady who hawked them on the sidewalk in from of the 400 Deli. She bought them for a quarter each from the newsstand--and she sold them for the same price, which is a tough way to make a living."2) Characterization that makes me feel like I was there. These are Scudder's bar-crawling days, and he has some good-time relationships with his bar tenders and fellow drinkers. There's Buddy, the actor; Skip, bartender and co-owner of Miss Kitty's; Billie Keegan, who tends bar at Armstrong's; Telephone Tommy, the salesman with the small, calculating eyes; Caroline, "with a soft you-all accent that, like certain culinary herbs, became stronger when you steeped it in alcohol." Dialogue is spot-on, that clever good-time mix of stories, social commentary, and good-natured mocking that a group of congenials have.3) The emotional punch of a likeable lead struggling with alcohol and past demons. Scudder's a little edgier in this one, walking a thin line between anger and depression. Alcohol threads through all the scenes, the backdrop and motivation to most of his routine, the siren that draws him from bar to bar. There is one very ironic scene where Skip tells Scudder that "But even so [alcohol's] a choice for us. That's the difference between you and me and a guy like Billie Keegan." Though Scudder of the past sounds skeptical, the discussion impacts even more strongly knowing the Scudder ten years forward and the extent to which he was deluding himself.4) Oh-so-subtle foreshadowing and the resolution of three clever little mysteries: a hold-up at Morrissey's, Tommy's marital troubles and Skip's financial troubles. There are hints of trouble from the start, but it isn't until the end that you realize how nicely they all blended in. Nothing is wasted here. The book comes full circle, making the ending even more poignant.5) The bitter flavor of justice. I read the book again just so I could re-read the ending. Stunning.I had to request this one from my library's "lower stacks." I wonder if they would notice if I never returned it?

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-04-11 07:07

    An after hours bar is robbed by two masked men. A bar buddy's wife is murdered and he's the prime suspect. The clean set of books from another friend's bar is stolen. What, if anything, do Matthew Scudder's three cases have to do with one another?After Eight Million Ways to Die, I wasn't that impressed with this one in the first few chapters but it really picked up. It takes place while Scudder is still drinking, back in 1975. Once again, Block had me guessing right up until the end. It never ceases to amaze me how old Lawrence manages to tie everything together at the end in a believable fashion. It took me forever to catch on to which of the cases were related and I loved how Scudder didn't let the bad guy get away at the end after it was clear the law couldn't touch him. While it wasn't my favorite Scudder book, it was still really good.

  • Trudi
    2019-04-07 02:06

    First of all, Carol knows what she's talking about. This is another great installment in the Scudder series and I really wavered over whether to give it five stars or not. It's a flashback novel, back to Scudder's hard drinking, bar crawling days of wee morning hours and head splitting hangovers. This is Scudder in all his glorious dysfunction, surrounded by the other barflies that make up his small cadre of "friends". It's 1970's New York, where Irish bars have Republican Army connections. Because this is the most intricately plotted of the series thus far, I feel like I didn't get as much Scudder this time around. There's so much going on in this book that Scudder is nearly lost in the details and dialogue required to drive the action forward. Don't get me wrong; he's there, just not as there when it comes to his private ruminations and general observations about life. Turns out that's what I really love even more than a richly constructed plot. My favorite thing about this one is that ending. Holy moses. Betrayal and backstabbing, revenge and a couple of suicides. (view spoiler)[ I was surprised that Skip went ahead and turned in the actors, including best friend Bobby Ruslander. Betrayal is a horrible thing, and Bobby is a huge asshole for what he did, but for Skip to turn them in to the Irish heavies knowing full well they would be killed, well, that's going to be tough to live with. Scudder takes the reward though "and somewhere along the line it stopped being blood money and became...just money." Carolyn's suicide was a bit of a shock, but Scudder using her death to frame Tommy really shocked me. He was pretty positive Tommy killed his wife after all, and Tommy is a huge sleazeball, but still. Just desserts? Poetic justice? Scudder justice anyway. I can't help question though whether Scudder would have made the same choice sober.(hide spoiler)]The last few pages of the novel are the best. Scudder's voice is so strong, the bittersweet nostalgia acute as he recounts all the landmarks that have crumbled and disappeared, all the lost souls lost for good to the hereafter: "So many changes, eating away at the world like water dripping on a rock." It's a strong man looking back from a better place in his life, yet it's a man who still finds himself longing, just a little bit, for "the good old days" of bourbon and coffee, and nights spent drinking til the sacred ginmill closes. And so we'll drink the final drinkThat cuts the brain in sectionsWhere answers do not signifyAnd there aren't any questions.I broke my heart the other day.It will mend again tomorrow.If I'd been drunk when I was bornI'd be ignorant of sorrow. And so we've had another nightOf poetry and poses,And each man knows he'll be aloneWhen the sacred ginmill closes.(Last Call, Dave Van Ronk)

  • James Thane
    2019-03-28 05:55

    This is among the best of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series, which is saying quite a lot. Set in the mid-1970s, it finds Scudder divorced, working as an unlicensed P.I. in New York City and essentially living in the bars that dot the neighborhood around his small hotel room.The book opens with the brazen robbery of an after-hours saloon that happens to be owned by some scary Irish brothers that no smart person would ever think to screw around with. Matt is present at the time of the robbery and the owners ask him to look into it, offering a $10,000.00 reward for info leading to the robbers. At virtually the same time, the wife of a casual barroom acquaintance, Tommy Tillary, is murdered. Tillary becomes a suspect and asks Matt to help clear him. If all that weren't bad enough, another of Scudder's friends is being blackmailed and wants Matt to help arrange the payoff.As the book progresses, Scudder works on each of the three problems with varying degrees of commitment and interest. Each of the three cases is interesting in and of itself, but as always in these books, it's the setting and the characters, especially Scudder himself, that keep you coming back and that make you regret it every time you come to the last page. Lawrence Block has created in these novels a world and a cast unlike any other--for my money easily the best, the most vivid and most interesting of any in crime fiction. I've read this book at least three or four times by now, and I'll be anxiously waiting for it again the next time I make my way through this series.

  • Mara
    2019-04-24 07:11

    Skip Devoe and Tommy Tillary. Theirs are the faces I see when I think of the summer of '75. Between them, they were the season. Were they friends of mine? They were, but with a qualification. They were saloon friends. I rarely saw them- or anyone else, in those days- other than in a room where strangers gathered to drink liquor.I don't know why I underestimate Lawrence Block. After the joyride that was reading Eight Million Ways to Die, I thought that surely Matthew Scudder's next adventure would fall into the shadow of its predecessor. I certainly never would have expected Block to take my love of Scudder forward by flashback, and yet he does.There's a whole cadre of characters we meet amid Matt's barroom crowd. We've got a phone sales Wall Street type, Irish pub owners who leave a NORAD jar out for collections, a guy tending bar as he tries to break into acting, and a few fellows who just happen to share Scudder's affinity for Wild Turkey and the like.With a pub stick 'em up, a murdered wife (not Scudder's- Anita's fine), missing books that the IRS would be all too happy to find, and Matt's self-effacing reticence to take problems on in any official capacity, it's not immediately clear what the "case" will be this time around. Not that anyone should mind, because the writing is just so damn good with an ineffable quality that just left me feeling the characters in all the right ways.The cases and pieces close in ways that are elegant without feeling contrived. Block has an ability to give his readers satisfying ambiguity that I never even knew I craved.You'll get no glib comments from me on this one, but I can never resist confessing to at least one of my moments of pop culture infusion and, being born in '84, my understanding of the criminal mind was largely shaped by my well-worn VHS copy of Home Alone.

  • Richard
    2019-03-29 07:17

    This is the latest installment in my journey into Lawrence Block's stunning Matthew Scudder crime series. This one comes on the heels of the showstopping Eight Million Ways to Die, and I was wondering if it was possible for this book to be as good. I was pleased to see that it comes pretty damn close! Block keeps it fresh by showing us a different side of Scudder, flashing back to events from Matt's past that occurred even before the first novel. Here, Matt tells the story of when he and his hard-drinking saloon homies got in and out of trouble during a hot, eventful New York summer in '75.This book felt totally different from the previous Scudder novels. Matt seems less of a loner here and more connected with his buddies. I felt like he was a lot less interested in his cases, more aloof, which is understandable as I was reading about a slightly younger Scudder than I was used to. Even the writing itself fits into this tone. This one is very nostalgic as well; it's a love letter to a throwback New York City that doesn't exist anymore, and to a simpler, more innocent time for Matt (who at this point hasn't even begun to consider himself an alcoholic). This book also has a first-rate, bittersweet ending where, like most of the great crime novels, the mystery is solved not in the way you expected or even wanted, but in a way that is undeniably satisfying. This ending took my expected four star rating and turned it into a solid five.

  • Lynn
    2019-04-22 01:57

    Matthew Scudder is working to help friends with problems involving blackmail, robbery and murder. The events in this story took place back when Scudder was a heavy drinker. It seems pretty grim to spend all day maintaining an alcohol numb, but he and his friends do just that. Scudder gave up being a policeman, but figuring out whodunnit was the only bright spot for him in this whole book. Block writes these books from Scudder's point-of-view. He is a very sad guy with no I cried for him.

  • Tfitoby
    2019-03-29 05:04

    Whilst reading about Jack Taylor fighting the good fight to stay on the wagon in Ken Bruen's Priest recently I figured it was probably inspired by Lawrence Block and Matt Scudder; the last time we met Matt was ready to turn his life around one meeting at a time, so in I jumped to this sixth in the series of books about alcoholic former cop turned professional favours for friends provider Matt Scudder.Turns out this wasn't the moment I was looking for, When The Sacred Ginmill throws everything you expect from a sequel on its head and instead is Matt's memoirs from a time when he was still trying to drink New York dry. Looking back at the summer of 1975 and how he came to investigate a blackmail, a murder and an armed robbery, all involving his drinking pals, in quick succession.It has been remarked by almost everybody that has read this series that this book starts off slowly, they're right, it is widely accepted that the completely different approach to the telling of the stories is responsible for this. Block adopts not only a Wonder Years style "it wasn't the same after that summer" reminiscing tone complete with a fantastically well incorporated nostalgia but introduces you to all the players much earlier than usual too. He allows himself the luxury of establishing personal relationships within the narrative, the world that Scudder inhabits and that most difficult thing for a series writer - repeating all the basic facts about your protagonist in a new and interesting way so that your existing fans gain something from the process too. There are few crime writers in any sub-genre who feel comfortable enough with their craft and the attention span of their readers to attempt this kind of reinvention and even fewer who achieve such impressive results. I've said it so many times about Lawrence Block but it deserves repetition, he IS THE crime writer all pretenders should aspire to.With this one he gets everything right once more, wonderful characterisation, evoking a real sense of place and time, emotional insight in to his protagonist without resorting to lazy techniques, an interesting crime to investigate, a manner of investigation that is true to his character, a powerful and quite unexpected denouement and most importantly for what is still despite it's many qualities genre fiction, a thoroughly entertaining read.It must be the seventh book in which he battles his demons. Bring it on.

  • Brandon
    2019-04-19 09:16

    I'm very happy for this novel's existence. Apparently, Block had originally planned on ending Scudder's adventures after finishing up Eight Million Ways to Die. However, after writing what was originally intended to be a short story, Block expanded it to what we now know as When the Sacred Ginmill Closes.Taking place sometime between novels 1 and 5; Scudder is still heavily boozing it up. If I didn't know that this was a "flashback" novel, I would have been completely shocked that Scudder fell off the wagon that quickly and that severely. It's amazing the man can even function with the sheer amount of alcohol he intakes.While not as deep as Eight Million Ways to Die in terms of Scudder's personal life, it's certainly not an inferior novel. I mean, the book is so thick with plot; I'm surprised I could lift it. You've got Scudder trying to work out 3 separate crimes, all of which never seem to overwhelm him at any point. Granted, they're all interconnected in some way.His personal problems take a backseat in this novel and the cases are in the fore front. Rarely does he talk about his ex-wife and children, nor his past police work and what caused him to leave the force. I will say this; in the end, after the cases are closed, we return to Scudder as he finishes telling us this story. Without spoiling anything, he does reveal some events that have come and gone since this chapter in his life. I found that pretty interesting as I have no idea where he is in regards to timeline when Book 7 picks up. Looking forward to that.

  • Richard
    2019-03-24 04:53

    8/10Scudder oozes class. Yeah he might like to overindulge in a drink or ten and some of his actions may be morally corrupt to the untrained eye but he's one smooth customer. This tale is a flashback of sorts looking back at a time before Scudder tried to give up the booze and was hanging around in many a watering hole. Scudder gets caught up in a robbery and is asked to investigate so off he goes. He detects and even with the hindrance of booze he detects with class. Nothing fancy other than working the case. There are multiple story lines here weaving around one main one and they all tie together at the end and they're all tied off nicely too. This was the first Scudder I've read rather than listened to due to some weird lack of this being on audible. The narrators have been chopped and changed and this read really well so I'd be tempted to leave the audio on this series and pick up actual copies going forward. This is smoother than the whiskey Scudder and his cohorts drink and I'm glad of many more to come.

  • Cathy DuPont
    2019-04-16 04:09

    WOW, WOW, and WOWLawrence Block circa 1986WOW, WOW, and WOW AGAIN!Scudder is not a social drinker but a confirmed alcoholic. In Eight Million Ways to Die, the novel published previous to When the Sacred Ginmill Closes he's attending AA after being told numerous times in the hospital that if he doesn't quit he will die. So what does a normal person do, he/she quits. Which is what Scudder did although he did have a few relapses along the way. In this book, published in 1986, Scudder is drinking but When ...Ginmill Closes is a reflection (nostalgic, doubtful for Scudder) to 1975 when he was frequenting the 'ginmills' of New York City. There are multiple storylines which thread throughout the book with his friends who own bars and taverns needing his help. He's not sure how much help he can give but they're insistent. Sometimes I include updates during my reading of a book especially when there is something to say which I think is interesting.I included those in the update status, so check there for some spicy lines. Matthew Scudder is one of the best characters I've come across in many a year and so glad one (or more) of my Goodreads friends suggested that I begin reading the ex-cop who does favors for friends and receives gifts (money) in return. Lawrence Block, just keep'em coming and at 75, he's still going strong. I receive his blog and his fans can tell that he sincerely enjoys interacting with them. It's obvious with his comments, so if you're a fan, be sure to check out his blog. If you're not a fan, time's awastin'. Winner of:Four AnthonysEight EdgarsTen Shamus and the Lifetime Achievement Shamus Award. Lawrence Block's Blog

  • Benoit Lelièvre
    2019-04-06 03:57

    This is such an odd volume in the Matthew Scudder series, yet it is why it's so great. WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES happens before the events of the first Scudder book (at least to my understanding), so Matt is not only giving in to his alcoholism, but he hadn't started living in monastic retreat on the world, yet. Scudder is hanging with the wrong crowd and has no innocent soul to save this time.Not only this novel is so different, it's also pretty amibtious as it's not featuring one investigation, but three interrelated ones. Scudder just happens to be a man of great skill lost into a crowd of pretty criminals looking to get the bestout of one another. By far the most unique and least contemplative Matthew Scudder novel out there. I didn't understand the buzz around EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, but I get it for WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES. One of the best detective novels out there period.

  • Mohammed
    2019-04-05 07:16

    In the end i liked how different this book was from the 5th book that is so highly rated,award winning. I liked the flasback story mostly because of the gang of friends that hanged around with Matt in 1975. I liked Skip and co, the first Scudder book that hade lines that made me laugh. They tend to be more bleak,complex character study.I liked how beliavable Block ended the different cases, how Matt worked without being some super detective. I liked the different things that the title was a symbol for in the story. Before i read the series i thought it was a simple title that catched your eye because a real ginmill was closing in the actual story. Hehe talk about not knowing Scudder books are not that straightforward

  • Ed
    2019-04-11 07:00

    Sweet Matt Scudder read. Hang with his drift through the gin joints, empty churches, and old hotels. Just listen to his steady, sometimes unclear voice as he goes through his two cases. Then wait for the big payoff at the end, where he wraps it all up. It's worth the wait, too.

  • Richard White
    2019-04-22 07:16

    Damn I love this series. This entry was excellent.

  • Nate
    2019-04-14 05:58

    More solid gold from Block here. Dude really seems to just get noticeably better and better with every book, which is saying something because even the first Scudder novel was remarkable stuff. It’s really something when you get ahold of a work like Eight Million Ways to Die which seems to be as good as things get and powerfully weighted with its own sense of accomplishment and finality, then a followup comes along and is just as good or even arguably better. The Godfather Part II is a good example of this. So’s this book!This story is entirely a recollection of Scudder’s set during 1975. He’s still drinking and is in the middle of another of his countless boozy nights, hanging out at an after hours bar with fellow night lifers. All of a sudden two dudes bust in and rob the joint and kick off another classic Scudder mystery, with the added bonus that the robbery is just one part of a trifecta of crimes that Scudder will solve in his own woozy, understated way. That’s right folks, not only do we have armed robbery in this one but we also have murder and blackmail! This is easily one of the more complex of Block’s novels I’ve read so far but he never makes it feel byzantine or forcedly complex for complexity’s sake, which is a huge testament to his mastery in the crime genre.An even bigger indication of how good of a novelist Block is the fact that a lot of the time the cases aren’t even the most potent and rich parts of the story. The really great stuff here is the dialogue, how Block shows us the complexity of Scudder’s character without ever resorting to telegraphing emotions or deploying melodramatic ham-handed freakouts or brooding and the varied real-feeling people speaking real-sounding dialogue Scudder meets and hangs out with (and inevitably, drinks with) in bars and apartments all over super-scummy feeling 70s New York. It all just goes down so easy but can end up haunting you for days afterward, kind of like Scudder’s ever-present bourbon.

  • Dennis D.
    2019-04-08 08:58

    I had been on a self-imposed exile from Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder novels for some time, for reasons I can’t recall. After reading the first five books in the series, culminating with the excellent Eight Million Ways To Die, I decided to give both Block and Sue Grafton a break, turning to John D. MacDonald and Jonathan Kellerman for my mystery/thriller fix, while also checking out Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries.Boy, I had forgotten what I was missing. The character’s back-story is that he’s a mostly-high-functioning alcoholic who has never quite recovered from having shot and killed an innocent bystander when he was a policeman, even though it only happened as the result of a ricocheted bullet in what was an otherwise-justified shooting. He’s now prematurely retired from the force and unhappily divorced, and he spends most of his time dulling the pain with his regular drink of coffee and bourbon- often leaving out the coffee part. Scudder supports himself by sporadically working as an unlicensed PI, taking leads or cases from his ‘friends’, many of whom travel in the same gin-joint social circle.The author uses a different approach this time than he used in the earlier books. Here Scudder is telling the story as a reminiscence of a typical period from his drunken days, some time before the events of Eight Million Ways, and recounted from the perspective of a future self who is completely sober. Just like an AA confessional designed to help put his past right, Scudder pulls no punches in retelling the sordid details, including those times that are fuzzy or indistinct to his now-sober self: he often drank to the point of blacking out, and there are some things he just can’t remember.The mysteries here are mostly grounded in the mundane. Scudder is hired to investigate a robbery which he also happened to witness. The owners of another of Scudder’s hangouts are being blackmailed over stolen ledgers that show they’ve been cooking the books. A buddy’s lawyer hires Scudder to make sure the buddy isn’t indicted for killing his wife, by investigating the small-time burglars who are ultimately charged with the crime. Scudder’s efforts – or lack thereof – for each case are given in detail, or at least as great a detail as can be given when filtered through the haze of alcoholic recollection. The cases by themselves aren’t necessarily all that compelling, but Matthew Scudder is an engrossing character, and Lawrence Block captures his narrative voice perfectly.The previous book felt like a series-ender, and I've read that that is exactly what Block intended, setting the character aside for six years before picking up the pen for Sacred Ginmill. This book also reads like a second epilogue to everything that’s come before, but Block instead used it as a spring-board to reinvigorate the series.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-15 05:06

    Wasn't sure that I was going to like this Scudder book as much as the others to start with as it started off a bit slowly. However, it got better the further I read and had a really clever ending so was right up there with the best. What a great series this is ! On to the next one...

  • William
    2019-04-19 08:55

    Wow, what a sad and confused little book. Only 2.5 Stars.A trip 10 years into the past, a trip to the cemetery, a road trip to nowhere, a goodbye to who we were. Living like they did, it's not surprising that their greed, arrogance and stupidity carried them all away.I enjoyed parts of this book, as if an overloaded plane were bouncing down the runway, struggling to get into the air, only to bounce back down again and crash into the barriers. I suppose the then-48 year old Block wanted it this way, perhaps thinking this was the end of the Scudder line. If so, it was certainly more poorly handled than Lehane's "Midnight Mile" farewell to Kenzie and Genarro.Some of the dialogue is completely brilliant, but only some. The plotting is confused, and Matt's heart is never in it, not once. Too many innocents suffer, and with Matt's complicity, then acceptance. Blame the alcohol for a broken soul? Even his sense of justice is rushed out at the end, as he looks back on his shattered past.But he's not drinking, and he feels hope. A nice note to end. I still miss Jan.Notes:NOTE! This book is a prequel, happening before "The Sins of the Fathers (book #1)" in time. I was shocked by Matt drinking "again" before I realised the time setting. I was never fond of this hard-core drinking, but I suppose I'll make it through this book.Matt and Billie are drinking heavily, and Billie insists on Matt hearing this song -Last CallWhen the Sacred Ginmill Closesby Dave Van Ronk1.0% ... Wow, quite a scare here, until you realise this book is a prequel to the Scudder series. 11.0% ..... dull. Dull, dull, dull. A stupid laundry list of bars and shops in his area. What's the fecking point? 18.0% ... picking up steam, finally. 21.0% ...“BOURBON is low-down,” she said. “You know what I mean? ... It’s for a gentleman likes to get down in the dirt. Scotch is vests and ties and prep school. Bourbon is an old boy ready to let the animal out, ready to let the nasty show. Bourbon is sitting up on a hot night and not minding if you sweat.” Nobody was sweating. 23.0% ... And my own thoughts turned suddenly to Anita, out there ... with the boys. I had a moment of fear for her, seeing her menaced, drawing back in terror from some unseen danger. I recognized the fear as irrational, and I was able after a moment to know it for what it was, something I’d brought home with me, something that clung to me now along with Carolyn Cheatham’s scent. I was carrying around Tommy Tillary’s guilt by proxy. 26.0% .... this is such great stuff, great rhythm, great imagery. 28.0% .... Block has used this at least once before ... He does tend to reuse paragraphs between books, now and then ...I wasn’t sure I liked him, but I was just as happy not to like the men I worked for. It bothered me less that way if I felt I was giving them less than full value. 55.0% ... dragging slowly along here. *facepalm* 55.0% ... Have we seen this LJK license plate before?e took a scrap of paper from his breast pocket, unfolded it. “LJK-914,” he read. 61.0% ... ... tells you when the services are and what the sermon’s going to be about.“It’s always about the same thing. Figure out all the things you like to do and don’t do ’em.” 69.0% ... wow, two pages of laugh-out-loud humour! Block can be funny, a bit..

  • Tom
    2019-04-18 07:09

    Mr. Block hit this one out of the park. An Irish bar is held up by two masked men. An acquaintance's wife is murdered. Scudder hitting the hard stuff really hard. Great plot, but it's really the writing that's superb. Block turns the city into a main character (a la McBain in the 87th), and it lives and breathes. The ending is superb (without giving anything away), and the epilogue was a perfect touch.

  • Maggie K
    2019-04-19 08:17

    I have always enjoyed the Matthew Scudder books, but this one is my new favorite!Flashback-style we go back to the story of some cases Scudder worked in the '70's. I am pretty impressed of how well a flashback fit into the rest of the series. We see a little different, seedier New York, along with a little different, seedier Scudder. This was shortly after the 'incident' in where Scudder quit the force and went off the grid, and the wounds are more striking.After witnessing a holdup at an after-hours Irish bar, Scudder starts looking into possible perpetrators. Meanwhile, his womanizing friend Telephone Tommy's wife has been murdered, and Tommy asks Matt to check into the suspects. Not too long later, a bar owner is blackmailed over his cooked books. Although seemingly random events, Scudders investigative method of travelling from bar to bar until he gets a tip or a sudden inspiration once again shows there is no such thing as coincidence.Great sense of place, wonderfully grey-moralled characters, emotional gut-punches, all make for a great view of the nasty side of human nature, how it effects everyone around them, yet then again, how little of it matters, because nothing ever stays the same for very long...

  • Darren
    2019-03-28 04:00

    This one gets all the credit, but having read it hard after Eight Million Ways to Die, I feel that one is just a much better book. Formally, Ginmill has a lot going for it; back-and-forth-in-time narration, one of the best parlour scenes in the genre, three mysteries on the go all at once (Scudder has taken Detective Durkin's advice from Eight Million to heart)... It's a great book, and I liked it, but I loved Eight Million Ways to Die.Not really a fair review on my part. Not even a review really. I'd recommend this book to any fan of the genre, and even non fans, I guess I just don't see why people prefer it. I should write a real review.

  • Hobart
    2019-03-31 05:56

    I'll be honest, I'm sticking with this series primarily because of the author's reputation, though Eight Million Ways to Die did impress me. I was fairly dismayed when I started this book and it looked like all the progress that Scudder made during his outing was tossed out without explanation or comment. A relapse, or backslide, etc. would've been acceptable if Block had done it right (obviously), but to just start off the book without noting that he'd fallen off the wagon was just horrible.Thankfully, he didn't waste too much time before he had Scudder inform us that this was an extended flashback. That done, we could see Scudder not at his alcoholic worst, just pretty bad--probably before the first book in the series, now that I think of it. Then he brought us back to the present at the conclusion of the novel, making the whole exercise mean something. What made me ready to toss the whole series at the beginning, in the end made a pretty effective novel. It's not a trick that he can use more than once, I think--and my gut says Block wouldn't try.As far as the mysteries that make up Scudder's cases? Marginally interesting, at best. I've yet to be really impressed by the whodunit aspect of Block's books, it's how Scudder interacts with the suspects/victims/survivors that makes them interesting--especially as he interacts with himself. But one of the two mysteries here is about as strong as he gets, and the other is about as weak as he gets., whatever.If you like Matt Scudder, this book will satisfy you. If you've never encountered him before, I'm not sure this is the book to start with.

  • Piker7977
    2019-04-13 04:55

    Superb!When the Sacred Ginmill Closes is Lawrence Block firing on all cylinders. The narrative is told in retrospect by Scudder and the events of the story take place during his drinking days. And brother....does he drink! This entry in the Scudder series has many strengths. The story begins as three separate mysteries and culminates into one hell of an ending. Characters such as a group of drinking buddies, bar owners, and neighborhood ladies add to the captivating qualities of the story and since the main plot takes place before Scudder quit drinking, he is wrestling with other demons besides booze. This is a little different than Eight Million Ways to Die and A Stab in the Dark as both of those books found Scudder battling his booze binges. Here Scudder displays an ambiguity toward justice and the necessities required to punish guilty parties. This is where the brilliant moments of tension appear in the story.The structure and story arc of the mystery flowed very well and the ending was more than satisfying. The Scudder books have a unique feel to them. Like drinking coffee and bourbon on a rainy day...after you woke up realizing you drank about forty coffee bourbons the previous evening.

  • Perry Whitford
    2019-04-09 05:18

    A sober Scudder thinks back ten years to the drunken Scudder of 1975, who carelessly became entangled into the criminal affairs of his clients and drinking partners, with morally skewered consequences. This is often cited as one of the best of the series. I am yet to read them all, so I can't be certain of that, but it's certainly very good.The characters all have strong individual voices and motivations, the plot threads intertwine well but not to an overly neat and unrealistic degree, and the numbing lifestyle of an alcoholic is quietly yet convincingly portrayed.If you have never read a Scudder before you can do worse than to start with this one or the previous one, Eight Million Ways To Die. Both are a few books into the series, but in many ways are where Scudder really started to hit his stride / slide.

  • Monica
    2019-04-18 01:59

    Yup yup...another super Scudder book. Once started, I CAN NOT PUT DOWN!!!Lawrence Block has a good formula going, writing these books. He’s also a master at shocking me. Even though Scudder is a wonderfully developed character in this 6th book in the series, he’s also continuously doing things to keep me on my toes.“And so we've had another nightOf poetry and posesAnd each man knows he'll be aloneWhen the sacred ginmill closes.And so we'll drink the final glassEach to his joy and sorrowAnd hope the numbing drunk will lastTill opening tomorrow.”...Dave Van Ronk