Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
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.