HOPE TO DIE by Lawrence Block
A MATTHEW SCUDDER NOVEL
William Morrow, 2001
In the latest installment of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series, the alcoholic private detective is brought into a murder case. The police have officially closed the case--a burglary gone fatally wrong, but Scudder thinks the whole thing a little too cute. Still, what possible motive could the killers have if not burglary, and the police recover the stolen goods.
Before he can find the killer, Scudder must prove that a murder has actually taken place. The police are suddenly more agreeable when another murder takes place, but Scudder has neither a suspect, a motive, or any evidence. Meanwhile, Scudder continues with his life, dealing with his disfunctional family, the sudden death of his ex-wife, and the continuing urges of alcohol even after eighteen years of abstinence.
Lawrence Block is one of the most popular mystery authors today and his Matthew Scudder series represents the author at the height of his power. Scudder feels like a real person, dealing with human failings, yet continuing because the alternative is surrender and Scudder knows that doesn't work. Block tells part of the story from the perspective of the killer--something that he does almost too convincingly.
HOPE TO DIE is smoothly written with a fine balance of plot and character. All of Block's characters live in a world where perfection is impossible making HOPE TO DIE as real as a headline, yet with the opportunity to truly look into the souls of such interesting characters.
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