> For Scudder, my favorite is A Stab in the Dark. It is compact, rings > true, and the locale and characterization are just about perfect.
Fifteen years ago or so I reluctantly began a Scudder novel (A Long Line of Dead Men) because it was the only thing around to read on a trip. I didn't know much about our hardboiled/noir world back then beyond the few authors I enjoyed, and a detective who goes to A.A. meetings struck me as gimmicky. This was a mistake on my part.
I promptly fell in love with the series enough to re-read quite a few of the books. My favorites are A Stab in the Dark, 8 Million Ways to Die and When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes), which were written consecutively.
My love for the Scudders is equaled by my lack of interest in the Burglar series. I'm sure they're excellent if that's your thing, but they're just not for me.
I think it is possible that Block gets less credit than he deserves for the Scudder stories because he makes it all seem so easy. There is a conversational style to them where Scudder's narration often takes on the voice of other characters as he's setting up the story that is very well done. I'll try to remember to dig out a couple of my books of his an quote some examples.
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