1: Sins Of The Father

Well if Dan can do all the Dr Who books in order, a quick trawl through Lawrence Block’s ouvre should not be past me. In particular, the Matt Scudder books. This will be a short set of tails spilt into three. One looking at the book itself. Another looking at where Matt Scudder is in his life at this point. And first, how I got the book.

I am a terrible collector. I am not even sure I approve of collecting, so in its way deciding to read and buy all of the Matt Scudder books is a step into potentially dangerous waters for me. I do not want things that just look nice on a shelf. Well, okay I do which is why I only want mint Orion copies, but I want to read them, in order to see if my previous assertions of charatcer development and soaplike drama really do becoming more important in the books than the mysteries. So it has taken me eight months to finally track down a copy of The Sins Of The Father, the first Scudder written in 1976, in Waterstones Piccadilly. It has lounged on my Amazon whilst, and I could get them all on the internet this somehow seems like cheating. We will see how I feel about this in the long wait to find number two.

So to Scudder then. Who is he? You find out precious little in book one, this is good old fashion short, sharp pulp and while Matt is an interesting narrator we do not get to see much of his life. We know he used to be a cop. Now he is not quite a private eye. He has an estranged family, has an interesting relationship with a barmaid and a prostitute and likes a drink. I am not sure if there is much foreshadowing to where this is all going to go, or just window dressing to tell a nice little bit of psychological detecting. Probably, at this stage, the latter.

So to the detecting. A young woman is brutally cut with a razor and when the police turn up her flatmate is standing over her body admitting the crime. He then commits suicide. Question, comes from the girls step-dad, who was she? Why had this happened? As ever with Block he feeds his information so that you are fascinated in the people rather than the puzzle, almost so that the ending seems a touch trite. Even more trite when the title of the book is considered. Its hard to review a mystery without giving away clues to whodunnit, so perhaps the cleverest thing about Sins Of The Father is that for the most part you think you know who did it, so this is never a distraction. At 180 pages it is slim, quick to read and comes with its own distinct morality. A good start, but not much Matt. (7/10)

The Brown Wedge