Saturday, April 27, 2019

Finished: Block's 'Eight Million Ways to Die"

I was recently complaining to a buddy that I hadn't read a book in a while that knocked my socks off. Then I turned to Lawrence Block and I'm running around barefoot.

"Eight Million Ways to Die" has all the stuff you like in a murder mystery: Machettes, bars, hookers, boxing, pimps and murder. What made this one special was Block's character Matthew Scudder

He's built a series around Scudder, a private detective. But this one really delved into Scudder's mind, his alcoholism, his lostness (is that a word?). This is fifth book in the 18-book Scudder series. It's the first that really fleshes out Scudder and, I think, really made him into the long-lasting character he came to be.
Nobody knows better than Matthew Scudder how far down a person can sink in this city. A young prostitute named Kim knew it also—and she wanted out. Maybe Kim didn't deserve the life fate had dealt her. She surely didn't deserve her death. The alcoholic ex-cop turned p.i. was supposed to protect her, but someone slashed her to ribbons on a crumbling New York City waterfront pier. Now finding Kim's killer will be Scudder's penance. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the slain hooker's past that are far dirtier than her trade. And there are many ways of dying in this cruel and dangerous town—some quick and brutal ... and some agonizingly slow.
This 1982 book was made into a movie in 1986 starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, and, in a leading role for the first time, Andy Garcia. I haven't watched it, but will now.

If you haven't read Lawrence Block, do it. As Stephen King said: "A hell of a book!"

I gave it an 8 on the Haugenometer.

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