Read The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block Online


The pretty young prostitute is dead. Her alleged murderer—a minister's son—hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's father has come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures....

Title : The Sins of the Fathers
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780752834528
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 182 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Sins of the Fathers Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-04-06 01:19

    They tell me the Matt Scudder series starts slow, that it hits its stride with his fifth adventure, Eight Million Ways to Die. I don't know about that—at least not yet—but one thing I can say for sure: The Sins of the Fathers is plenty good enough.Scudder was once a cop. But then a seven year old girl is killed by a ricochet he fired in pursuit of a robber, and, even though he is exonerated—hell, they even give him a commendation—he finds he just doesn't have the heart to be a cop anymore. Now he drinks too much and can't shake the guilt, but he still uses his cop skills to make ends meet. While not technically a private dectective (he has no license), he “does favors for people,” and they give him “gifts.”This particular “favor” is an unusual one. A pretty little hooker living in a nice Greenwich Village apartment has been stabbed to death, and the only suspect—her male roommate—admits his guilt and then hangs himself in the city jail. So the case is closed, and Scudder's client—the dead girl's father—doesn't wanted it reoopened: he just wants to find out what his daughter's life was like. He thought he knew who she was, yet discovers after her death that she had hid her life from him. Now he needs Scudder to uncover a few facts and details so that he may reconstruct a more realistic memory.The book consists of three parts: 1) an investigation into the life of the dead girl, which leads to 2) the discovery of the motive for the crime, and 3) an account of Scudders plan to bring a rough kind of justice to this "open-and-shut" case.

  • James Thane
    2019-04-08 06:19

    I'm updating this review in March, 2016, principally to change the edition. As I suggested in my original review, this is the first book in my favorite of all crime fiction series. My original copy is a reprint from 1991, which is when I first discovered the series. At the Left Coast Crime convention this week, I was browsing in the book room and discovered that one of the rare book dealers there had an excellent copy of the first edition from 1976. It's the one pictured here, and I was thrilled to find it. The cover blurb from James M. Cain, no less, pronounces the book as "Very Superior!" I couldn't agree more.The Sins of the Fathers would be a solid four stars from me on any day. I'm giving it five because it's the first book in what I've always believed to be the best P.I. series that anyone's ever done, if not the best crime fiction series that anyone's ever done. The Matthew Scudder saga now runs to seventeen books and a large number of short stories, and it's hard to think of any other writer who has done a series consisting of this many books over this many years while maintaining this standard of excellence. And for as many times as I've read this book by now, and for as well as I know the story, it's always a treat to pick it up and read it all over again.In particular, the first chapter is excellent. In a lean, crisp thirteen pages, Block not only sets up the mystery to be resolved but provides a brilliant introduction to the character of Matthew Scudder. Although the character will continue to grow and develop over the course of the series, the first chapter essentially tells you everything you would ever need to know about the man.Scudder is an ex-cop who left the force for very personal reasons. He now works as an unlicensed P.I. Clients don't hire him in any traditional sense, but occasionally he does a favor for someone and they show their appreciation by giving him monetary gifts.In this case, the someone is a businessman from upstate New York named Cale Hanniford. A few days earlier, Hanniford's daughter, Wendy, had been savagely murdered in the apartment she shared with a young man named Richard Vanderpoel. Minutes after the killing, Vanderpoel was found covered in the victim's blood, exposing himself and shouting obscenities in the street in front of the apartment. The police arrested him and less than forty-eight hours later, the young man hanged himself in his cell.The police have closed the case and Hanniford accepts their obvious conclusion that Vanderpoel killed his daughter. But he wants to know why. Hanniford and Wendy had been estranged for several years and he knows nothing of her life during that period. He now knows that she was living in an expensive apartment with no visible means of support, which suggests the obvious to everyone involved. Still, no matter how sordid the details, Hanniford wants Matt to dig into Wendy's life so that he will know how she came to such a tragic end.Scudder accepts the job and begins investigating in his usual methodical way, turning up one thing after another, asking one question after another, and in the process learning things about both Wendy and Vanderpoel that no parent might ever want to know.The story is spare and lean--there's not a wasted word, and it draws you inexorably into the lives of all the characters, but especially into that of Matthew Scudder. It's a haunting and intoxicating introduction that sets the stage for all of the great books and stories to follow.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-05 01:42

    Standing among the crowd of burned out, “ex-cop,” morally suspect private investigators inside the dingy, cluttered, dimly lit literary bar called "Mysteries," Matt Scudder manages to stand out and sparkle shine, despite his seeming overabundance of unassumingness. Well appearances deceive and depth takes time to appreciate. Trust me when I say you haven’t met Matt Scudder before. This guy is an original. Scudder isn’t the macho, “steely-eyed” superior type. He doesn’t gruffly walk around badassing or cracking wise with his personal brand of “I know how the world works” fortune cookie quips. Matt Scudder is an onion (thank you for that analogy SHREK) and his layers are many. So who IS Matt Scudder? Hold that thought while I fill in a little of his personal history, beginning with who he was. Scudder was a police detective and a competent one. True, he was not above a little bribe-taking to help support his family and he had no qualms about framing a suspect he knew to be guilty. However, he tried to make a positive difference and serve his community by taking out the bad guys. Scudder left the force after accidentally shooting a seven year old girl while breaking up an armed robbery. He subsequently abandoned his wife and two boys and began a serious love affair with coffee spiked with bourbon which he now makes time with ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. Now, Scudder works as an unlicensed private investigator, continues to drink his corn-mash and coffee combo and his only real friends are the police captain who sends him referrals (for a fee) and the hooker he spends time with occasionally. Matt refuses to keep written records of any kind and his jobs consist of doing “favors” for “friends” (i.e., clients) in exchange for cash “gifts.”So again, who IS Matt Scudder?Well if the above doesn’t make it clear, he’s one of the good guys. I would even go so far as to say one of the REALLY good guys. Granted, his colorful history would suggest that Matt has a ding or two on his armor and some warts on his soul. Ah, but remember....deceptive appearances and the onion full of layers. Matt is someone who cares, truly and deeply, about right and wrong. He spends more time than most contemplating the nature of good and evil and trying his best to fit into the former while minimizing his contributions to the latter. A few additional facts about Matt might hint at why I feel this way. He gives 10% of everything he earns “anonymously” to the poor. His relationship with his ex wife is respectful and caring (a minor miracle in itself) and he loves his two boys and they seem to think dad walks on water. Oh, and the hooker he spends time know the one that earlier brought out all your “nose-thumbing,” judgmental prudery? Well the friendship/relationship she and Matt have gives off more genuine warmth and mutual respect than many of the more conventional pairings I’ve seen. So again, I think Matt is one of the good guys who is struggling with his own weaknesses and how to make his vision of good fit with the world he sees around him. He is contemplative and caring and flawed and lost and a whole bag full of other. He is most defintely engaging. Lawrence Block has created one of the most unique characters I have come across in the Mystery genre and ranks up there with Hap and Leonard by Joe Lansdale among my favorites.I know, I know....I haven’t told you a thing about the plot of the story. I tend to do that with the first book in a long series because I feel like the character is the real reason why you should check this out. But here you go. BRIEF (BELATED) PLOT SUMMARYA young woman is brutally murdered in her apartment. Her male roommate is found at the scene and arrested. The suspect then hangs himself in his jail cell making further investigation unnecessary and closing the case as far as the police are concerned. Matt is hired by the victim’s estranged step-father to find out “who his daughter was” when she was killed. She had mysteriously dropped out of college and the newspapers were had running stories that she was a prostitute. The step-father wants Matt to investigate to find out the truth about her. There....happy. Anyway, this was a terrifically written mystery with an amazing lead character. The fact that this is only book 1 of a 17 (so far) book series has me so swollen with happy juice that my eye-balls are floating as I write this. 4.5 stars....HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-03-30 04:42

    When call girl is murdered and her roommate/killer hangs himself in prison, the girl's wealthy stepfather hires Matthew Scudder to investigate the girl's past and find out why her life ended the way it did. Scudder's investigations lead him through a web of sex and lies...Wow. Lawrence Block always keeps me entertained but this was one hell of a read. It's less than 200 pages but one of the more powerful pieces of detective fiction I've read in years. I figured Scudder would unearth some bad things in his quest. Come on, how can you not unearth bad things when you're investigating the death of a call girl? Still, I was surprised by all the twists.Scudder himself is a great character. He left the police force after a ricocheting bullet of his killed an innocent girl and has been operating as something of a PI ever since. He tithes to the church and drinks a lot. He has a sense of law and order and justice about him that keeps him interesting. For instance, he tells the story of setting up a guy he knew was a rapist by planting heroin in his apartment while he was gone and then informing on him. This is the first Scudder book and I think I'll be picking up the others as I find them.For fans of noir, you can't go wrong picking up this book.

  • Greg
    2019-04-16 01:37

    As my first bit of book reviewing for the new year (being started seven minutes into the new year, yep another exciting new year's eve with me reporting on books here on goodreads), I'll admit that I was wrong in my opinion of Lawrence Block. For years I thought nothing of him, I thought he was another of those male macho writers, sort of a mystery version of say a Vince Flynn, or a Brad Thor, or some other preposterously monikered hack. Or I thought he was the type of writers old men read, like cozy mysteries for the greatest generation. What he read while she was off reading a novel where a cat is solving some crime that has to do with sewing and baking. Maybe it was the titles of his Thief who.... series of books. Maybe it was the boringness of his Hit (X) book covers. Maybe it was a lot of things. But I liked to think it was this picture of him that made me feel ambivalent (nope, not ambivalent, actually fairly sure that I would never pick up a book he had written) about him:This picture for years at the book factory annoyed me. The way he seemed to be coming at me with his glasses off. The picture kind of freaks me out. It was the type of picture I expect the father of someone named Brad Thor would take. So I was wrong. I know I am wrong about this next statement but I'll throw it out there anyway; it's quite possible that Lawrence Block can do no wrong. Why is he so fucking good? I have a feeling that eventually in this series there are going to be mediocre books, and some will be better than others, and that it's not humanely possible to keep up with Hit (x) series at the same high level that the first book reached. But, after reading seven of his novels since the middle of October I'm starting to feel confident that even when he's writing a mediocre book (and he wrote a shit ton of books so they aren't all going to be home runs) he is writing at pretty much a whole different level from most of his peers (Westlake and Ellroy as exceptions). Even his pretty silly Killing Castro reads better than a lot of the other Hardcase books I've read, and even his Jill Emerson signed novel Getting Off has something about it that just shouldn't be there in a novel that is basically a repetitive sex and violence book that would make Stewart Home think about maybe interjecting something extra into the story to mix things up a bit. I'm not going to say it's his writing, his writing is fine, but I can't think of any particular passages that have really sung for me, it's not like Ellroy where the prose just rips at you, or Chandler where you just can't believe how much beauty he wrenches out of what should be typical noir schtick. Block's prose is fairly unobtrusive, which is a good thing, too often in crime novels when you notice the prose it's because of it is making you cringe. It's the characters. He creates amazing fucking characters. Matthew Scudder is one of these amazing fucking characters. Until about twenty pages till the end I thought this was going to be a four star book. It was good, but not great. I liked it but didn't love it, but then the fucking ending! I'm usually not that blown away by the way a book ends, it's usually a fairly foregone conclusion by the time the book chooses to wind up. There might be a twist, but you have a feeling the twist is coming. The book feeds you signals to know how the story is going to go, and if maybe some details surprise you the general arc doesn't. So fucking good. I think it's quite possible Lawrence Block might be one of the best writers out there and he's been hiding from me in plain sight for years.

  • Kemper
    2019-04-04 07:22

    On the surface, Matt Scudder would appear to be something of a lowlife.As a cop in New York in the 1970s, he wasn’t above taking bribes or framing someone. After he accidentally shot and killed a child while trying to break up a robbery, he quit the cops and left his wife and two sons to live in a hotel in Manhattan. He makes his living as an unlicensed private detective who refuses to keep records or file reports, and he gets information by bribing various cops and government workers. He drinks constantly and occasionally engages the services of prostitutes.Doesn’t sound like the hero of a long running detective series, does he?What’s great about Scudder is that while someone could get on their high horse and look down their nose at the way he lives, Matt is actually a deeply moral man who broods about the nature of good and evil while trying to figure out where he fits into that battle. He’s also willing to get his hands dirty while trying to do ‘good’.In this first book of the series, Matt is hired by a man whose estranged daughter, Wendy, was murdered by a man she was living with. The man was immediately caught while covered in her blood and hung himself in his cell. The father thinks that Wendy had become a prostitute and feels guilty that he hadn’t done more for her so he wants Matt to look into her life and give him a sense of what her last years were like.You can’t really put a label on this series. It’s not action packed although Matt does show flashes of a violent nature and being able to take care of himself. He isn’t an armchair detective sitting back and thinking about clues and figuring out intricate puzzles, although does have a cop’s nose for lies and inconsistencies. Matt isn’t a wise cracking hard-boiled PI with a strong moral code either. He just roams Manhattan talking to everyone from cops to ministers to gay night club owners to get the info he needs. He’s also a realist who does the best he can, and doesn’t see the point of fighting a system that’s inherently corrupt.Here’s a great scene illustrating that with Scudder advising a rookie patrolmen who has just tried to refuse the twenty-five bucks Matt offered him for telling him about the arrest of the killer:“Think about it. If you don’t take money when somebody puts it in your hand, you’re going to make a lot of people very nervous. You don’t have to be a crook. Certain kinds of money you can turn down. And you don’t have to walk the streets with your hand out. But you’ve got to play the game with the cards they give you. Take the money.”Despite being written in first person, we don’t get much introspection into what Scudder is thinking or feeling other than tidbits like this that Block sprinkles throughout the book. The reader often doesn’t realize how much something has effected Scudder until Block gives us a sign like him suddenly gagging while checking out the murder scene. At one point late in the book, Scudder casually tells someone that he would have killed himself years ago if he didn’t think it was a mortal sin. It’s really only at this point that you realize how deeply guilty and weary Matt really feels. Block does a great job of using that without letting Scudder become an angst-ridden bore.This is one of my favorite characters, and I can’t wait to re-read the rest of these.

  • Trudi
    2019-04-12 07:29

    I've finally found my way to Matt Scudder. And ladies and gents? There ain't no going back. I'm intrigued, a little titillated, crushing for sure, maybe even falling in love. I had my reservations at first. I don't "do" hardboiled detective stories. I have a kink for classic noir films that has never translated into a love for that hyper-masculinized breed of pulp fiction. I chalked it up to "dick-lit" and moved on, assuming these stories were written for the menfolk, and would contain very little appeal for a gal such as myself. How could I have been such a stupid asshole for so flipping long? I have nothing to offer in my defense. I began to come to my senses when I started to read some of the men's reviews, the same men who read LOTS of detective fiction but continue to single out Scudder again and again as one of their favorite go-to guys -- Dan, Kemper, Stephen all share in a Scudder man-crush so let's just say my interest was piqued. Then Carol comes along and starts blasting through the Scudder books like they're made of chocolate rolled in potato chips. She just couldn't stop at one. The more she read the more I knew I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. And if I needed one more reason to sanction this virgin foray into Scudder territory, I got it when the edition I picked up featured an introduction by my man Stephen King. So I get an entire King essay I didn't even know existed. Thank you Matt Scudder. I have a feeling this marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Well that's enough about me, what about the book? The mystery is very secondary here; in fact, I didn't think the mystery seemed all that important. Much more vital to the story is our introduction to weary, troubled, lonesome ex-cop Matt Scudder and his booze-soaked life in the Big Apple. Scudder has had a very bad thing happen that's driven him out of the force and away from his wife and sons into a solitary life of unlicensed private investigating. People come to Scudder with questions they want answered. For a variable fee, he'll try to help them out. What I love about Scudder is that he's not a macho, bullying asshole strutting around intimidating people and getting in their face. He goes about his business with a quiet intensity that speaks volumes about his integrity. Don't get me wrong; he's no pushover. If he's got to get tough he will, he just prefers to keep things civilized and on a low simmer. He's got class and despite his unquenchable thirst for coffee laced with bourbon and a talent for greasing palms, he's got a built-in moral compass that's always pointing true north. That isn't to say he's a saint. There are flaws, but flaws that make him human and a little tragic (and only more lovable in my books).I also appreciated how unflappable and non-judgmental Scudder is (self-righteous people piss me off). He treats everyone with the same level of respect whether a gay bar owner, a prostitute or a minister. He knows he doesn't have all the answers and adults should be free to live their own life as they see fit. If you want to try and get away with murder though, don't expect to do it around him. He will figure out a way to make you pay, one way or the other. A totally unexpected source of joy came from the book's dated references. Published in 1976, Sins of the Fathers is filled with details about life before the personal computer, before Google and Facebook and smartphones. When Scudder visits his lady friend Elaine she's got a pile of vinyl on the record player. It's subtle, but it creates a kind of unintentional nostalgia that I found inexplicably pleasing. Block's writing is crisp and uncomplicated. The dialogue has a natural rhythm that caresses the ear. The prose might be stripped to its bare essentials, but it manages to retain depth and texture. It's emotional writing, intuitive and smart. Out of it comes Matt Scudder, fully realized, three dimensional and ready to take on the world. Okay, I think I've gushed enough, wouldn't you say? I'm off to read the next book in the series. I want more Scudder now, but I've promised myself not to gorge, to save some for later. Let's see if I can hold to that.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-21 01:39

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Matt Scudder book. The previous one was Eight Million Ways to Die, which was made into a horrible movie starring Jeff Bridges. I don’t know if watching this botched cinematic attempt to capture Lawrence Block’s character tempered my desire to pursue the books, but I can honestly say I’m sorry I waited so long to re-boot my interest in the series.Although the plot is a good one (it revolves around Scudder’s attempt to bring some closure to the brutal murder of girl who moonlights as a hooker) and predictable, its Block’s laying the literary foundation for Scudder’s character (this is the first book in the series) that’s fascinating.Scudder is the divorced father of two and a guy with serious drinking and rage issues. Trying to recover from a tragic incident that occurred while he was a police officer, Scudder feeds the guilt monster with booze, prostitutes and moments of rage (“Everybody has mean little places inside himself.”). Less of a boy scout than say Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, Scudder seems one step away from permanently stepping into the abyss. “Hello, darkness my old friend.”For some reason the Scudder books are hard to find in my area, but I did manage to pick up two more over the weekend, so let’s go stare into the great, black nebulous hole that’s gaining traction in Matt Scudder’s soul.

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-04-03 09:46

    Once upon a time I picked up a Lawrence Block book. I liked it, so I tried another. The next one was from his Matthew Scudder series. Now I'm hooked.Scudder debuted in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop who had recently quit the NYPD and left his family after accidentally causing the death of a young girl. Living in a rent-controlled hotel room in Hell's Kitchen, he earns his living as an unlicensed private investigator—or, as he puts it, "doing favors for friends." - WikipediaScudder's not a prototypical "lovable" guy and yet I love him. I wanna be best buds with him. What I would give to hang out, have a beer and shoot the shit with this guy! Oh the stories he could tell!Block has spun a solid yarn here with The Sins of the Fathers. Some might call it a yawn, as there's not a lot of action considering this is a crime story. I admit the pace is a bit slow and there's no explosive climax. However, this is still great reading. I was totally engaged with the character and the story. Everything felt very real. I chalk that up to Mr. Block's chops. You can tell the dude's done some writing prior to this point (<-- Understatement intended). He's comfortable in his skin. Everything's all very relaxed and natural. There's an obvious and satisfactory flow to this work. I'm definitely moving on to Time to Murder and Create!

  • Lawyer
    2019-04-04 05:41

    The Sins of the Fathers: Lawrence Block's First Matt Scudder NovelDell First Edition, 1976"The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children."--William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act Three, Scene Five, Line OneAll right. I admit it. I'm turning 60 in two days. And I've never read Lawrence Block. How could this happen, all you Block fans ask?Lawrence Block introduced Matt Scudder to the world of detective fiction in 1976. No, I wasn't on an extensive Bi-Centennial celebration. I was in law school. I wasn't reading much of anything that wasn't between the covers of some massive tome guaranteed to cure the worst case of insomnia.In a nutshell, I graduated from law school, passed the bar, neither of which has much to do with the practice of law, and became an Assistant District Attorney. Twenty-eight years went by in a flash. I didn't read Lawrence Block, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, or watch Law and Order. I lived it. Along the way I had my favorite good cops who never wrote "cleared by arrest" until the case was worked and they and I knew we were ready to roll into a court room. I came to know a few cops who lost the faith along the way. Some cases do that to you. Four years directing a domestic violence and sexual assault program did me in. A year and a half in private practice was more than enough for me. Just call me semi-retired, and hoping to teach. It won't be law.So with a few years behind me out of the real world, I get a yen for a good crime novel, watch Criminal Minds and I said it was about time when Booth and Bones finally did it. I have to give goodreads group Pulp Fiction a plug for steering me to some excellent reads in the genre. Give them a look. that brief commercial interruption, I finally met Matt Scudder a couple of days ago. A Lawrence Block fan had dropped off a heap of Block's Scudder novels at our Library's book store. At a buck apiece I now know I got a helluva deal.Block introduced me to a smart cop's cop--a man I've known before. But, just as in the real world, Scudder is never off duty. He's one of New York's finest. He's stopped off at a bar for a drink on his way home to the wife and kids. Two bad asses with guns try to knock over the bar and kill the bar tender in one of those moments where everything goes wrong. Scudder kills one and knocks the other out with a shot through the thigh. These are the kinds of cases for which officers get commendations. Scudder is no exception. But in the fire fight, one of Scudder's shots ricochets off a brick wall and kills innocent bystander, seven year old Estrelita Rivera.Smith & Wesson K-38 Combat Master, a common service revolver for law enforcement in the 1970sScudder can't shake his responsibility for the little girl's death. He leaves NYPD. He leaves his wife and two sons. Scudder's drink of choice is bourbon. He drinks a lot of it, frequently mixing it with coffee, though he recognizes that combination just results in being drunk and awake. He lives in a cheap cramped hotel room, operating as an unlicensed private investigator. In his way of putting it, he does favors for people and they give him gifts. Scudder's complexity is revealed when Block tells us that he tithes ten percent of his gifts to churches, though he's not a religious man. He seems to favor Catholic churches because you can light a candle for the dead. You wonder how many times he's lit one for Estrelita Rivera.In Scudder's first case two fathers each lose a child, one a son, the other a daughter. Young Wendy Hanniford was a freelance escort. Her father, Cole, wants to know why his daughter was killed. Scudder bluntly tells Hanniford he may be opening doors he doesn't want opened, but Hanniford has to know.It's an apparent open and shut case. The dead son is Richard Vanderpoel, son of a minister, who was Wendy's roommate. Richard is caught by a patrol officer running from the apartment, screaming obscenities, covered in blood, his penis out of his pants. Wendy is upstairs, slashed to death, apparently with a straight razor. When Richard hangs himself in his jail cell, it's case closed.One of these does a nasty jobBoth fathers have secrets they attempt to keep from Scudder. It's those secret sins that are laid on their children in this case. By the time Scudder has completed his favor for Cole Hanniford, there will be more candles to burn than just the one for Estrelita.Could I see the solution coming. Yes. A mile off. Did I care? No. Block is a pro. He knows how to tell a story.Scudder is Block's most enduring character. The background is set for Scudder's problem with alcohol and whether he'll beat it. There's a number of characters I imagine I'll see in later novels. I hope I do. Scudder's still at it in A Drop of the Hard Stuff published in 2011. Considering Block is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and has taken the Edgar, Shamus, and Silver Dagger Award, I've got a lot of good reading coming my way.And, on your way to your favorite bookstore or library, remember..."Let's be careful out there."

  • Carol.
    2019-04-18 05:39

    Straightforward, clean and classic, The Sins was the perfect book for a lazy afternoon in the sun. Decent characterization, a serviceable investigation and the seedy side of 1970s New York all contribute to a fast read.The first book in a long-running series introduces Matthew Scudder, a 15 year veteran of NYPD who retired after an accidental shooting of a seven-year-old girl. That incident became a breaking point, an emotional trauma that is shared with the reader in bits and pieces. Now living in an emotion-free zone powered by booze and coffee, he works for 'favors,' where he investigates for people and they express appreciation in cash. The police force, alas, exists on a favor system as well, and undoubtedly set the stage for Scudder's mentality now. As payment for a review of a beat cop's report, he sets the rookie straight, disillusioning him about the job but setting the way for the rookie's advancement.The story begins at a favor interview: a woman is found brutally murdered, her roommate covered in blood and raving; shortly after, he hangs himself in jail. The woman's stepfather is looking for closure and wants to learn more about her, even if it means digging up the unpleasant. The mystery wasn't particularly surprising, but I give Block credit for creating interesting characters, particularly Scudder. I found his quiet wrestling with issues of good and evil a nice twist.Aspects to the story feel dated, but less so than most. "Nymphomaniac" was banded about on one occasion by a character other than Scudder, and there is no more certain way to date a detective book than 70s psychology. However, although the dead woman has been going on dates for money, Scudder doesn't judge her, and helps her stepfather understand the situation. Homosexuality also becomes an issue in the investigation, which Scudder investigates without judgement.Overall, I enjoyed the pace, the narration and the attempt to wrestle with moral ambiguity. I also found it enjoyable to read a mystery that didn't feel the need to venture into thriller territory or multiple murders. It's kind of a popcorn level mystery book: easy, light, non-substantive. For me, a three and half star read, but good enough that I'll be looking for the next in the series.Cross posted at

  • Lou
    2019-04-04 04:44

    Dead son and a dead daughter.Father and son, Father and daughter all have a dark past and all weigh up in the play of good and evil.Suicide is tragic and a last call out of turmoil and distress, it’s a sin even Scudder knows that otherwise he himself confesses to contemplating taking that road. Scudder ex-cop turned Private Investigator was on the force for almost sixteen years divorced with kids, he works as infrequently as he can for now and in no need for money, he has a cheap room and lives on modest day to day expenses.Scudder takes on a case and is investigating the death of a girl and the suicide of her caught killer. He needs to question prostitutes, a priest and a step-father.With all this talk and investigation on father and child relationships by the time the case is closed he finds himself wanting to rekindle his relationship with his boys. You find a real connection in this story with Matthew Scudder and find he’s a real character of today that’s dealing with a real world of good and evil. You will want to be there with him in the future novels after reading this one, battling through the rough and enjoying the smooth.Lawrence Block writes with a crisp narrative no words wasted takes you straight to the case on the opening pages and really writes the plot to the point. The story is thoroughly engaging and so spot on it reminds me a bit of James M Cain’s writing. This story flows well and will find you are on the final pages in no time at all. This was a re-read for me a masterful start of a great Matthew Scudder series.He quotes in the novel “ I said, “ I lost the faith.” “Like a priest?” “Something like that. Not exactly, because it’s not rare for a cop to lose the faith and go on being a cop. He may never have had it in the first place. What it amounted to was that I found out I didn’t want to be a cop anymore.” Or a husband, or a father. Or a productive member of society.The reason for his quitting as a cop was due to an incident where he was off-duty one night and found himself stopping an armed robbery. One of his gunshots went wide and ricocheted and hit a seven-year old girl in the eye she died instantly. The death of that girl Estrellita Rivera changed his life forever and the cause of one too many sleepless nights and probably the need for his Bourbon drinking. In Stephen King’s introduction of this novel he writes at length his love of Block’s novels here mention one quote.“Accessibility is only one of Lawrence Block’s virtues as a writer, but it is surely his greatest gift. His novels-better than two dozen of them at this writing-combine clarity, simplicity, honesty, and vividness to create nearly seamless entertainments.” is a good video interview on this link Larry Block is interviewed by Barbara Peters of Poisoned Pen Press and Bookstore, Arizona.

  • Richard
    2019-04-14 02:47

    8.5/10Holy shit, this was good. Very good. Why did I leave this on my wish list for over 3 years. Because I'm an idiot. Scudder is a hard boiled detective in a world gone by before the Internet, mobile phones, openly bribing police. Although saying that, he's not a detective of sorts. He used to be in the police but there is a backstory there which I won't say about here.This was another foray into audiobook territory for me, with it being only 5 hours long and some great reviews from friends I decided to take the plunge. It's old school in its style with Scudder actually interviewing all the people involved and digging around for clues. The interactions between Scudder and his interviewees were the highlight of the novel for me. Some really good back and forth's revelling key things about the characters. There were two reasons why it just fell short of the elusive 5 stars. The narrator was good but not great, at times it was hard to differentiate between who was talking and he had a weird way of really extending the length of saying "yeeeeeeeesssss" or "nooooooooooo". It grated after a while. The other reason was (view spoiler)[the title gave the ending away! I was able to see what was coming from a distance away so what should have been a great twist was somewhat signposted. Oh well.(hide spoiler)].I'm really keen to continue the series and read more about Scudder and see what the author has to offer. I'll continue the series in audiobook format for now due to the length, let's see if I can get a 5 star out of these!

  • Becky
    2019-03-28 03:33

    It seems that lately, everywhere I turn, Lawrence Block's name comes up. This is probably due to some of the company I keep here on this site. But in my opinion, that's a good thing. It led me here and intrigued me to read this book. I imagine that the Scudder series is one of those that just keeps getting better with each book. I hope that's the case, anyway - not because the first book wasn't great, but rather because it gives me something to look forward to as I read through them. I really liked Scudder. I liked his style, quiet, up-front, honest with himself, but ready and willing to get pushy when it seems to be needed. I appreciated his sense of morality, even though it's dingy and dirty, and would definitely not be the type to be put on a pedestal. He's brutal at times, and I liked that. When he called Marcia a foolish bitch, I admit that I shivered a bit. It was sharp and unexpected - to me AND Marcia - but I was glad that he isn't the type to let himself be railroaded by some stupid girl. He seems to be great at reading people, and with her, he knew that she needed to see that he wasn't going to be shoved off by her reticence, so he chose the quickest way to get her attention. I could have cheered, because I was already kinda ready to slap her myself. Yeah, yeah, I know, that's all disrespectful to women and yada yada yada, but I get so tired of women either being treated as fragile dolls or punching bags in books like these. It was nice to see the various ways that Scudder interacted with the women he encountered, especially his ex-wife. He seems to have respect for women - but isn't too concerned with their fragility if they are between him and a piece of info he wants. He doesn't try to own or control or threaten - he just accepts the situation and deals with it accordingly. I like that a lot. The mystery was, in my opinion, the weakest aspect of the book. I figured it out much earlier than Scudder himself did, though to be fair, he was thorough in his investigation and didn't leap to judgement like I did. Still, I did enjoy going through the investigation with him, and seeing how his mind works and how the impressions he picked up came together to form a picture. What I really liked was his method of justice. I shouldn't say that, because it's not the approved way of things, but I liked it all the same. He's creative and resourceful and more than a little bit ruthless. So yes, I like. There were some editing issues in this book - the kind that you see in badly formatted ebooks. I'm chalking this up to the same kind of thing, since the edition that I read was put out in the 90s, when the book would have been almost 20 years old already. There was one case of "must of" instead of "must've", but I can't recall if that was in dialogue or not. (I usually ignore it if it is in dialogue, since that could be patois rather than bad writing.)Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of this series. I really enjoyed the first book, and I can't wait to hook up with Scudder again. ;)

  • Nikki
    2019-04-17 06:40

    It’s not that often I delve into the noir-ish side of crime, though it’s not because I have anything particular against it — the whole class of casually drinking, smoking and screwing detectives with cynical attitudes don’t repel me, whether it be Brandstetter, Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. Or, in this case, Matt Scudder. It comes down to the individual detective, and in that sense, Scudder probably comes out neck and neck with Brandstetter. He’s involved in a case that seems sordid, yet he avoids making obvious conclusions and follows the facts; he’s straight, but he ends up in gay bars, talking to gay people, etc, and yet Block doesn’t seem to need to overhype Scudder’s masculinity in compensation. And despite the cynicism, Scudder tithes to local churches, keeps an open mind about people, and doesn’t judge. There’s an honesty about him, too: he takes money, but he admits it, he knows when to take it, and there’s times he’d say no.There are things about the whole treatment of gay people that don’t come off so well, but most of it seems to be a genuine attempt to let people do their own thing and not get stuck on judging what that is. Unless you’ve killed someone, of course.In terms of the writing, it’s not Raymond Chandler: there’s no gems where Lawrence Block wrote something in a way no one else has. It’s clean and it works, without unnecessary verbiage or prevarication. Most of the clues are given to us, though there’s one point where the thinking process is based on proper detective work in old records and stuff, and that’s less easy to bring across to the reader in a way that’s at all interesting, so that aspect was a little smudged.Overall, I actually really enjoyed this. There are some noir detectives I don’t want to spend a minute more with — Mike Hammer, for example — but Matt seems basically decent, and never too convinced that that’s the case.

  • Brandon
    2019-04-24 07:32

    I needed a hole to fill the VOID left by my consumption of the John Connolly Charlie Parker series. Luckily, Connolly has a new book coming out in September, The Burning Soul. Until then, I needed a detective series of substance. A character so cool, so awesome, that I could branch out from Charlie Parker into another series. I've actually had this book on my to-read list for several months now. I have no idea what took me so long to pick it up. I mean, it's not like Kemper, Dan or Stephen had been singing it's praises up and down Goodreads. What? They have? Oh.This is classic.. no wait, VINTAGE detective writing. Scudder is my type of character. He drinks a lot, he's suffering from self inflicted guilt and he has little patience for the public. This is a guy who has lived through a freak accident which in turn caused him to alienate his wife in asking for a divorce, distancing himself from his kids and quitting the force. He takes on cases which he identifies as "favors" for cash, which he identifies as "gifts". Sure, he tosses a couple of bucks to charity every now and then but he's pretty much a loner. He's like a hooker with a heart of gold. Did I just say that?Man, I'm really excited to dive into this series and really sink my teeth in. I devoured this is one day, which, for me (at least lately)is equivalent to the speed of light. I basically broke the sound barrier reading this thing I loved it that much. I actually picked up the second installment today and I intend to start on that ASAP.

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-04-15 03:36

    Everyone, I think, has their favorite P.I., whether they be the positively geriatric Mike Hammer or the more modern Cormoran Strike. My P.I. is, was, and always will be Matthew Scudder, although Scudder will be the first to tell you that he's not licensed. Like classy ladies of the night, he accepts gifts not payment. I think what I dig most about Scudder is how he treats others. He doesn't hit women. He doesn't bash gays (in fact, in later books, he has a transvestite friend, a relationship that was way ahead of its time). He's also what I like to call a cynical optimist, which basically means he knows people will let him down but he still hopes they won't. In other words, me and him have a lot in common. I dig the way this guy writes, and I dig the author as a person. But what I dig most about his Scudder series is how Matthew Scudder evolves over the years. This first book is a great place to start, but you can read any book in this series out of order, another aspect I love about Block's work.The audiobooks narrated by Alan Sklar are excellent. Highly recommended.In summation: If you like P.I. stories and haven't tried Block's Scudder novels, do yourself a solid and pick one up. The old ones take about 3-5 hours to read, but if you're a speed reader you could easily knock one out in one or two.

  • Mara
    2019-04-16 01:33

    If you're entering the world of Matthew Scudder, you better brace yourself for some dark and delicious detective work. I don't know why I keep wanting to use adjectives normally reserved for coffee blends to describe this book. I'm pretty sure evenly-roasted isn't a term intended for literary review, but this story (and Scudder himself) just hit every note I never knew I needed for a supremely satisfying read. Scudder is neither hero nor villain; he goes by his own rules and defies what might be considered conventional morality while sifting through a world where it's hard to starkly delineate right from wrong. I wanted this book to last me more than a day, but, like Matt, I felt compelled to keep on digging.I don't know how to deal with spoiler-y material from a tablet, so I'll just say that the tale is slightly more twisted than (what I imagine) you might find in your average 70s noir. So if you're looking for straight-up mystery without that extra level of peering at some of humanity's less-desirable traits, I might look elsewhere. Otherwise, grab your coffee and bourbon and go for it.

  • Tfitoby
    2019-03-31 08:25

    Lawrence Block does it again!The man sure can write. This is a tight little novel, the debut of Matt Scudder and an enjoyable piece of 70's noir. He's an ex-cop with a drinking problem exchanging favours to get by. The murder-suicide of a prostitute and a gay guy serve as a background for his introduction to the reader and an excuse for him to drink as much as possible.His journey kicks over some rocks that some people would have preferred to have remained in place and leads to the inevitable conflicted noir ending, unearthing the darkness hidden in even the brightest amongst us. Block once more lets us know that we are not alone with our foibles and psychological angst, everyone else suffers similarly whether they admit it or not.The slim nature of the book means you can fly through it but it still packs a punch, however perhaps a little more depth is required to fully comprehend the nature of the man and the crimes. But I guess that's what the rest of the series if for. Go Lawrence Go!

  • Larry Bassett
    2019-04-05 01:29

    This was a paperback mystery when it was first published in 1976. The edition that I am reading is from 1992, is the first hardcover edition, and has an Introduction by Stephen King. In 1991 King published Needful Things. According the Wikipedia, “It is the first novel King wrote after his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol.” King’s introduction includes a discussion of the alcoholism of series protagonist Matthew Scudder. In all, I found the ten page introduction more enjoyable than enlightening.I had bought The Sins of the Fathers used online. It turned out to be a former library book. It had some library markings but the back page where some additional markings might have been had been ripped out. The pages of the book were in very good condition. I noticed as I read the beginning of the book that there were a couple of printing errors that someone had neatly corrected with a sharp pencil. One I remember was where “the” was actually supposed to be “them” and the m was neatly entered. The other one was where “on” was corrected with the same sharp pencil to be “no.” And then there were more. I noticed the mistakes because of the markings but I was impressed that someone would be reading with enough attention to detail to notice the errors. Mistakes like this are rare and make me think less of the quality of the publishing job. But then I think that is not really fair to make that judgment since there are so many pages and so many words that it is not surprising that there are occasional mistakes. I think of someone going through the entire book looking for errors and am glad not to have that job. The publisher was Dark Harvest in Arlington Heights, Illinois, not one that I have ever run across before.This is the first book in the Matthew Scudder series. The series is seventeen books with the final one published in 2011. I sought out the first book in the series out of curiosity. Judging from used book prices and availability, first books in a series must be something that people collect.Our protagonist is an ex-cop. He became an ex after he unintentionally killed a seven year old girl while on duty. At the time he quit the force, he also left his wife and two children with whom he is limited contact. He lives in a hotel. He does not present a very pleasant notion of what it is like to be a policeman. There are the bribes and payoffs that are made to seem routine and without any conscience. There is the drinking at the cop hangouts and the fact that Scudder is evidently an alcoholic. There is the petty theft that occurs in the course of a normal day of investigation. Scudder also fairly nonchalantly breaks into an apartment, the murder scene.Scudder is now working informally as an unlicensed private investigator who is paid off the books, under the table and doesn’t do any of the routine administrative tasks of recordkeeping that you might associate with running your own business. He does continue to make significant use of his contacts from his time on the police force.The story of The Sins of the Fathers is that Scudder (people call him Scudder) is hired by the father of a twenty-four year old female murder victim to look into the last part of her life and her murder since he has not been in touch with her for some time. So, he wants to get to know his daughter now that she is dead. The apparent killer committed suicide in jail so Scudder is essentially doing the police investigation of the killing that the police are not going to do since they have closed the case since both the victim and the perpetrator are now dead. He has a good reputation as a cop within the police department. (He definitely seems more like a cop than a policeman.)So we have this retired functional alcoholic cop interviewing a string of people about the closed murder case. The story is told by Scudder who generally displays harmless, boorish behavior. This is his only case at the moment so he is able to focus on it. He does not seem financially dependent on this additional work; the advance cash he gets for this job is passed out in kickbacks, bribes and to church poor boxes. Oh, and a drink here and there at the local bars.One of the most distressing observations by Scudder occurs when he is (via B&E) in the apartment where the killing occurred. There is a good deal of blood. Although this is several days after the murder, cleaning up seems to be a low priority. Hold your stomach for this: I had spent most of my hour wandering through those rooms, sitting on chairs, leaning against walls, trying to rub up against the essence of the two people who had lived here. I looked at the bed Wendy had died on, a double box spring and mattress on a Hollywood frame. They had not yet stripped off the blood-soaked sheets, though there would be little point in doing so; the mattress was sdeeply soaked with her blood, and the whole bed would have to be scrapped. At one point I stood holding a clot of rusty blood in my hand, and my mind reeled with images of a priest offering Communion. I found the bathroom and gagged without bringing anything up. Scudder seems to be something of a touchy-feely kind of guy “trying to rub up against the essence of the two people who had lived here.” But there is a range: murder, sex, gay bars, prostitution. And some humor:The new mayor was having trouble appointing a deputy mayor. His investigative board kept discovering that his prospective appointees were corrupt in any of several uninteresting ways. There was an obvious answer, and he would probably hit on it sooner or later. He was going to have to get rid of the investigative board.Yes, a little bit of humor that also tells you a little bit about Matthew Scudder’s mindset. Hard to call him a straight arrow. In fact, I was wondering what Matthew did about sex for himself since he is a PI. And we all know PIs need some. Bingo, he calls Elaine on the phone and takes a cab over to see her. The short story of that is that alcohol does not always enhance sex like some think.“Relax, honey.”“Not, it’s not going to work,” I said. “Something I should be doing?”I shook my head.“Too much to drink?”It wasn’t that. I was far too completely locked into my own head. “Maybe,” I said.”“It happens.”I will let you find the typesetting mistake in that little exchange for yourself. There do seem to be quite a few of them in this book. I’m not impressed. Maybe that happens with books that have a first printing in paperback only.How did Scudder see his financial arrangements with the people who hired him? He verbalized as if he did them favors and they gave him money gifts. He was not a working stiff. There was only one problem. In a very real sense, my arrangement with Hanniford was more than a dodge around the detective licensing laws and the income tax. The money he gave me was a gift, just as the money I’d given Koehler and Pankow and the postal clerk had been. And in return I was doing him a favor, just as they had done me favors. I was not working for him. But the problem was that although he already had enough information about Hanniford’s daughter to close the deal with him, “there were still a few blank spaces and I wanted to fill them in.” And Scudder is more interested in impressions than facts as strange as that might seem for a private investigator. And he doesn’t have too many pages to work all this out since this is a pretty short book, 179 pages in the 1992 hardcover edition. The investigation that Scudder undertook lasted five days. They were five busy days and nights. He covered a lot of mental territory. He flew from LaGuardia to Utica, NY to give his report to Mr. Hanniford. He didn’t call ahead.Scudder spooling out the story about Wendy that he had put together in five days included some additions by her father (actually her stepfather). It was touching and I got a lump in my throat. He said to Scudder of his daughter: “Earlier you made her sound like a victim. Now she sounds like a villain.”[Scudder responded,] “Everybody’s both.” Scudder says, “I’m just a man who used to be a cop.” His wisdom came from somewhere else, I think. I would guess he is a lapsed Catholic. The hints are throughout the book. I thought the best hint was him saying how he liked the Catholic church because it worked through the week while the other churches took the time off. He liked to sit in an empty quiet church. He liked to put some money in the poor box. He said he tithed. I can’t remember why he said he did that but when Hanniford gave him $2000, he put $200 in the poor box. At the end of the book he gets a second and final payment of $1000, and 10% goes into the poor box.Scudder is philosophical. I wondered whether it was worse for men to do the wrong things for the right reason or the right things for the wrong reason. It wasn’t the first time I wondered, or the last. Theoretically, I give five stars to any book that makes me cry. So this one qualifies. But, on top of that, it deserves five stars. But I don’t get the proofreading. Sure, a mistake in typesetting (or whatever the mechanism for getting the words into print) is not impossible. But what about this: “He fought to catch her breath.” Something like this happens not once, but twice in the book. If somebody can explain that to me, I would appreciate it.

  • Cathy DuPont
    2019-03-30 03:20

    Another one of those writers who I’ve heard and read about but never took time to read.Apparently Lawrence Block has been an influence to other popular writers for a number of years now; writers who I have enjoyed reading for years. Never got around to reading Block though, he could wait. Just seemed that another James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly or Robert B. Parker got in the way. My loss, my loss especially since I’ve had plenty of opportunities; he’s been writing since the 1950’s and this book, The Sins of the Fathers, was published in 1976. Been waiting for me to read it all these years, my loss. His writing is sparse and crisp (def. marked by clarity, conciseness, and briskness) with no needless words all of which I love in writing. Why say in 20 words what can be said effectively in 10? The protagonist is Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop and not a P.I. That’s too much paperwork to contend with so he does ‘favors’ for people who give him ‘gifts.’ Being an ex-cop he knows the ropes which comes in handy. In some ways I feel really bad (not 'sorry' though) for this guy because he’s so haunted by past life experiences that it has severely affected his living in so many ways. Perhaps this has made him more intuitive, more observant and knowing of his fellow man. Perhaps he’s always been that way, intuitive and such. Either way, he knows people and knows them well. The storyline itself is simply one of the best I’ve read in many, many books. A young man, Richie, who is bloodied all over, is screaming obscenities in the streets that he murdered someone. A beat cop handcuffs him and takes him to his nearby apartment only to find his roommate, Wendy, murdered and mutilated. Richie, son of a minister, is jailed for the murder, and soon commits suicide in his cell. The father of the murdered woman asks Scudder to delve into his daughter’s life the past three years that she has been absent from the family. Who was she?Scudder follows the slim leads he has and over a few days of searching out and questioning people who knew her, he develops a sharp idea of the life of the deceased roommates. The book held surprises at least every other page as the reader finds out more and more about Scudder, Wendy and Richie. Then in the last quarter of the slim book, like Chef Emeril Lagasse, Lawrence Block ‘Kicks it up a notch’ and ‘Bam!’ hits another out of the park twist. The ending is by far one of the best, if not the best ending of any book I’ve ever read. That's saying a mouthfull, too.If you want a great story, written by a great writer with great characters, this is a must read as soon as possible. I cannot believe I’ve read so many ‘so-so’ stories when this book was waiting somewhere for me to pick it up and read it. Don’t make the same mistake I did by putting it off for some other mediocre read. Read this now.

  • Eric
    2019-04-23 04:36

    I picked up the Kindle version of this for 99c (all of Lawrence Block's back catalog is on sale on for my review: I liked it a great deal. It was a quick, compelling read. The main character was a likable rogue, the mystery was complex without being too convoluted, and the solution had some nice twists to it.My only issue is with the title. The Sins of the Fathers. Now, if you hadn't read this yet, like I hadn't, wouldn't you think you knew who the killer was? Well, you would be correct. It was (view spoiler)[the minister that was the father of the suicide victim (hide spoiler)]. He may as well title his next novel The Butler Did It for all the suspense this title gave the story. However, having now read the novel, I like the title more, despite that it gives away the killer, because it also points out the sins the other fathers are guilty of, which gave the title, and the novel, some added depth.

  • Mark
    2019-04-08 08:41

    I did start well into the series with the book that was made into a movie with Liam Neeson, and continued into the direction of the more recent publications. And now I found myself with the first novel of the series in which there is no AA but a lot of drinking by Matthew Scudder former policeman turned into investigator of the not so legal variety. When call girl is murdered and her roommate/killer hangs himself in prison, the girl's stepfather hires Matthew Scudder to investigate what made the girl chose the life she did after "running away" from home. This means delving into the girl's past and find out why her life ended the way it did. Scudder's investigations also makes him meet the family of the murderer and the Sins of the father.An interesting book that is indeed a very different Scudder from the later books and already shows Scudders original moral compass and how he sails by it. A decent start of a series.

  • Jim
    2019-04-21 07:21

    I've listened to another in this series, so it was nice to listen to the first one. No real surprises. Typical Block, very understated. Scudder is likable if a rather aimless character. The mystery was OK, a little obvious, but not bad at all. The way Scudder solved it was perfect. I have the next book in the series, but I'm reading another mystery in paperback & don't like having 2 books of the same genre going at the same time. Too easy to get confused. Besides, I'm not in any rush. Scudder is a good way to pass the time, but I can't work up a lot of excitement for most of Block's books.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-25 07:38

    Well, hell, I guess I'm going to have to read this series now too.

  • Book Concierge
    2019-04-03 08:38

    A pretty young woman is found in a pool of blood; she’s been slashed repeatedly with a sharp instrument. Her male roommate is found on the street nearby, covered in her blood, exposing himself and babbling incoherently. Arrested for her murder, he hangs himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's father has come to Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop and unlicensed private investigator, hoping for answers; he’s been somewhat estranged from his daughter and he wants to know how she came to be in this setting. Scudder begins looking into her background, and finds much more than he expected. Wow. I’ve been a fan of Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series (Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, et al) for quite some time, but had not read any of the Matt Scudder series until now. This series is darker than the “Burglar” books. Block is a master of suspense, and he writes a tight novel. There is nary a word out of place or an extraneous phrase. What I really loved about the book was Scudder himself. He’s contemplative and relatively quiet, not given to macho acts of aggression (though he’s not above teaching a lesson or two to a bad guy). I like the way he deals with other people – respectful, even when he’s applying pressure. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and while he feels comfortable rendering judgment, he recognizes the slippery slope he’s on when he takes matters into his own hands. I’ll definitely be reading more of this series. I want to get to know Matthew Scudder better.

  • Brenda
    2019-03-28 04:30

    This is the first book in the Matthew Scudder series. Published in 1976, it has none of the technological advances around today, but I remember those times and it felt like visiting my past. How many of us have put a dime in a payphone, huh?Scudder is a former cop working independently. He is asked to investigate a young woman's death by her father. Because the young man accused of killing her quickly committed suicide, the police close the apparent open-and-shut case, but the father needs to understand what happened.This book is not a police procedural. It is an exploration of both the young woman's and the young man's lives, their history, and their personal relationships. What Scudder discovers is surprising. The result of his discovery is shocking.With most books today usually being twice the length of this book, there was a lot packed into these 186 pages. It was a thoughtful book and a great introduction to Matthew Scudder.

  • Richard
    2019-04-10 05:26

    *3.5 Stars*Solid start to what I've heard is a good series! Been planning on reading the Matthew Scudder books for years and now I've started. Matthew seems like a great character and I'm anxious to learn more about him. In detective and crime novels, I'm less interested in the actual mystery and more interested in how the mystery affects the character and the world and the world around him/her, and vice versa. The strongest aspects of this book are the richness of the characters and the ease of the dialogue. There's not a lot of delving deep into the character of Scudder but it's definitely a good tease. Can't wait to learn more in subsequent books. This book reminds me a lot of George Pelecanos's work! I wouldn't be surprised if Pelecanos was highly influenced by Block. There's a poetic simplicity and a love of the people that I found in this book that I saw many times in Pelecanos's work.

  • Thomas Todd
    2019-04-19 03:35

    This was my first Lawrence Block novel I've read. This book is also the first in the Matthew Scudder series. Nice quick read with a good ending

  • William
    2019-04-12 07:28

    Extraordinarily good. Superb stuff. A full 5-stars.Original review lost by GoodReads' crappy software. I will re-write it shortly 😥 Notes:13.0% “I’m not on the force. This is private.” Her eyes did a number. She liked me better now that I wasn’t a cop, but now she had to know what angle I was working. Also if I wasn’t on official business, that meant she didn’t have to feel compelled to waste her time on me. 18.0% ".... “Jesus. What do I do, just walk into his office and hand him five dollars?” ....“You’ve got plenty to learn, but they make it easy for you. The system takes you through it a step at a time. That’s what makes it such a good system.”" 23.0% "... the story takes place in 1973." 31.0% "... He let his hands drop, lowered his head. I couldn’t see his eyes, but his face was troubled, wrapped up in chains of good and evil. I thought of the sermon he would preach on Sunday, thought of all the different roads to Hell and all the paving stones therein. I pictured him as a long, lean Sisyphus arduously rolling the boulders into place." 56.0% "... there's a kind of calm sadness in this book, in the fate of the characters, in Scudder. An inevitability." 78.0% "... Wow, this is superb. What a sad, wonderful, terrible tale. Block is masterful in pacing and depth, and his Scudder is a living and breathing, damaged and flawed Hero. I'm very impressed." 81.0% ".... We turned out to be good for each other. For a stitch of time all the hard questions went away and hid in dark places."