From: James R Winter ( winter_writes@earthlink.net)
Date: 22 Jan 2005

I'm convinced Block hit his stride with Matt Scudder in this one. Originally published second, it was the third book written. Had I read TIME TO MURDER AND CREATE third instead of this one, I'd have probably been disappointed with it. This book has a deeper feel to it. A lot of Scudder's more irrational and illogical moments have a rhyme and reason to them, even if Scudder's not aware of it.

Scudder is hired to get a high-priced call girl, Portia Carr, to drop extortion charges against a flashy cop named Jerome Broadfield. Jerome's an unlikeable character from the start, just as corrupt as the very fellow cops he claims he's trying to clean out of the NYPD. Scudder doesn't buy the noble act. In fact, he hates the guy instantly. There's something more than a sudden change of heart to Broadfield's actions. You can usually tell when he's lying be whether or not his lips are moving. Scudder takes the money anyway and decides to make a token effort. Why? He hates the guy.

The morning after Scudder visits Carr, he's summoned to jail, where Broadfield is being held for her murder. Someone phoned in a an anonymous tip, police found Carr's body in Broadfield's apartment, and Broadfield happens to walk in as they're investigating. Since Broadfield's been working with the DA on the corruption probe, the police are all too happy to arrest him.

Scudder agrees to take more of Broadfield's money to help clear him. He goes out to Long Island to get that money from Mrs. Broadfield.

And sleeps with her. Later on, he breaks into Broadfield's Manhattan apartment, puts on Broadfield's pajamas, drinks his beer, and sleeps in his bed.

All the while, Scudder is getting stonewalled by the police and by a stuffy personal assistant to the DA. It turns out that Carr's murder and Broadfield's frame has more to do with who's in Carr's little black book than Broadfield's corruption charges.

We get our first good look at Elaine. She was in the first novel, SINS OF THE FATHER, but she appears only in one scene where Scudder pays her $60 for an aborted lay. Here, she's fleshed out, and we know there's more the her and Matt than simply a regular visit from a client to a whore. We see more about her life, how she's saving her money and buying up property for the day when prostitution will no longer be a viable business for her.

Like I said, it's a shame that they published TIME TO MURDER AND CREATE after this one. That book felt detached enough from the rest of the series to be placed anywhere, but Block's style and Scudder's chraracter are still sketchier than they are in ITMOD. It's just a better novel, and feels more evolved than the first two. It's not EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, but the seeds are sown for it.

Jim Winter

http://www.jamesrwinter.com http://jamesrwinter.blogspot.com winter-newsletter-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 22 Jan 2005 EST