Lawrence Block's 17 Matthew Scudder novels have won the hearts of readers throughout the world-along with a bevy of awards including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Philip Marlowe (Germany), and the Maltese Falcon (Japan). And it's MattScudder who's been largely reponsible for Block's lifetime achievement awards: Grand Master (Mystery Writers of America), The Eye (Private Eye Writers of America), and the Cartier Diamond Dagger (UK Crime Writers Association).But Scudder has starred in short fiction as well, and it's all here, from a pair of late-70s novelettes (Out the Window and A Candle for the Bag Lady) through By the Dawn's Early Light (Edgar) and The Merciful Angel of Death (Shamus), all the way to One Last Night at Grogan's, a moving and elegiac story never before published. It was short fiction that kept the series alive on the several occasions when the flow of novels wass ingterrupted, and short stories that took Scudder down different paths and showed us unmapped portions of his world.Some of these stories appeared in such magazines as Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, and Playboy. The title vignette, The Night and the Music, was written for a NYC jazz festival program; another, Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen, has appeared only as the text of a limited-edition broadside. And the final story, putting Matt and Elaine at a table with Mick and Kristin Ballou in a shuttered Hell's Kitchen saloon, has its first appearance in this volume.Several stories look back from the time of their writing, with Scudder recounting events from his former life as a cop, first as a patrolman partnered with the legendary Vince Mahaffey, then as an NYPD detective leading a double life. In Looking for David, Matt and Elaine are on vacation in Florence, where they encounter a man Matt arrested decades earlier; now Matt finally learns the motive behind a brutal homicide.Along with the eleven stories and novelettes, The Night and The Music includes a list of the seventeen novels in chronological order, and an author's note detailing the origin and bibliographical details of each of the stories.Brian Koppelman, the prominent screenwriter and director (Solitary Man, Ocean's Thirteen, Rounders) and a major Matt Scudder fan, has sweetened the pot with an introduction.
It seems Block is having a hard time retiring; he's already produced six books this year in his leisure time-thank the maker. This EPUB/paperback original is a collection of nine stories featuring New York cop-turned-unlicensed PI Matthew Scudder. The majority of these shorts are reprints, but "Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen" and "One Last Night at Grogan's" are new to this volume and bring Scudder's story up-to-date. Block mixes traditional procedural whodunits with more contemplative and anecdotal character-driven pieces. In the newer writings, Scudder is older, wiser, married (again), off the booze, and looking at life through more experienced eyes. Couched within the action are commentaries about the then looming AIDS crisis and the lingering problem of the homeless in New York, so there's a conscience at work. Verdict A quicker, more enjoyable read you won't find. Veteran Scudder fans will rejoice at sharing his adventures again. May Block-and Scudder-never retire.-Mike Rogers, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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September 28, 2011
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