2: Time To Murder And Create

How I Got It: Borders Charring Cross Road, which happened to be the first place I looked. After the difficulty of finding number one, I though this might be the case here. The only problem was its top shelf positioning, which placed it out of my reach. A female assistant, an inch taller than me offered to help, and fetched a footstool from around the corner to make me look like Mr Thickee.

The state of Scudder: This is still early on in the series and Block has not really come round to the (admittedly relatively revolutionary proposition in detective fiction) that his lead can change all that much. Nevertheless there is more room for characterisation here with Block returning to someone he obviously likes. He plays up his time as a scrupulous if bent (like everyone) cop, and spends a few more dark hours with Trina the barmaid. Elaine does not appear, and there are a few conversations with his wife and kids that he regrets. Still drinking lots, still tithing, these are the quirks of early Matt. Still he is not really a PI, he does favours for people who can’t get favours from anyone else.

The mystery: It is a bit too academic this one. There is a blackmailer Spinner, who dies. He is blackmailing three people, and the question Matt feels compelled to answer is which one did it. His investigating technique is bloody awful actually, resulting in much tragedy all around – which in itself reflects on Matt who remains feeling rather depressed about all of this. Formulaic in the set-up it suffers poorly from only having one suspect left in the last thirty pages, effectively solving the mystery for you. Not one of the best on that front (though at least it does not giveaway whodunnit in the title), but Matt is coming more to the fore. (4/10)