Monday, March 21, 2011

A story worth revisiting

by Lawrence Block
pb from Avon, 373 pgs, pub 2/98

The Grand Master does it again. Now a licensed private investigator, Matthew Scudder is faced with a most perplexing case. Even if, strictly speaking , he has no client. Of course, for those who follow the tracks of recovering alcoholic, ex-cop Scudder, know that the absence of a client, indeed, the absence of much of anything that might be called a case has never stopped him from pursuing whatever fragile thread captures his attention. Part of the time, he does have a client, other times, not, it's just one of the fascinating aspects of this book.

As always, Block's writing deftly brings the nature and the ambiance of the city right off the page and into your immediate presence. His principal secondary characters, as usual, play important roles in moving the story forward and adding fine texture to the mix. Block's writing remains as smooth as ever was.

With the publication of the first letter in a local newspaper, the city's attention focuses on someone who calls himself the Will of the people. He suggests that certain criminals whom the law of the land has thus far been unable to snare, ought to be disposed of, done away with, dispatched. Who would care? Who indeed. So the Will of the people announces his targets and begins his cleanup campaign. And even though Scudder has no client connected to the Will of the People, as his erstwhile partner, TJ points out, "Dude's the whole city's problem." But all too soon the Will of the People becomes Scudder's immediate problem, and a complex, cerebral as well as action-filled adventure begins as Scudder pursues a serial killer through the city. EVEN THE WICKED is a thoughtful examination of parts of our society which need more light. It invites reflection on certain aspects of our life and is a distinct pleasure to read.

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