Friday, September 08, 2017


Hope to Die                           
Author: Lawrence Block
Publisher: William Morrow
Copyright: 2001
ISBN: 0-06-019832-X
320 pages

Mystery Grand Master Lawrence Block has produced an outstanding piece of noir literature, and another adventure in the life of unlicensed investigator, Matthew Scudder. One of the accomplishments of this series is the many ways in which Matt Scudder continues to evolve as a person. Now married to Elaine and living in relative luxury in Manhattan, Scudder no longer can be viewed as the rumpled, somewhat seedy, scuffler, scuttling across the mean streets of New York. In fact, he's learning the intricacies of the cyber age, however reluctantly and he even has an erstwhile assistant.

Yet with all these changes, and some others, Scudder retains his elementary inquisitiveness and his concerns about truth and justice and right and wrong. And if there's one thing he still hates, its loose ends. So, after a night at the concert hall, he and Elaine discover that although they didn't know them, they were in the same room with another couple, Byrne and Susan Hollander. The Hollanders, according to the newspaper, were brutally murdered just a short while after attending the concert. In the big city, such intersections do occur. Scudder is put off but not engaged. However, a few days later he learns that two men have been located by the police along with convincing evidence that they robbed and murdered the Hollanders. Case closed. The more he thinks about it, the more Scudder senses something isn't quite right. And so, Matt Scudder begins to pick at the edges, worrying the loose threads he sometimes feels more than sees. And things begin to unravel. leading to more questions, more answers and a tortuous path through the sunny jungles of New York.

As always with a Block book, the writing is marvelous, the pace is excellent and the thrills and surprises just keep coming. One is constantly pushed off-balance and turned around. “Hope to Die” is however, unlike previous Scudder cases. It is more textured, moodier, darker. It leaves the reader with more questions than expected from Block's writing. It is also a marvelous experience to travel with such a nuanced, complex character as Mathew Scudder.

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