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Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block
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Eight Million Ways to Die (1982)

by Lawrence Block

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Wow. Just wow. I can easily say this is the first "great" Scudder book. I knew I made a mistake rating the first 4 novels at 5 stars each. It's not that they're bad books, they're just not in the same league as [b:Eight Million Ways to Die|76758|Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)|Lawrence Block|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1289521310s/76758.jpg|2905875].

In the 5th installment of the series, Block takes Scudder and the City of New York all the way down to rock bottom. Whether he's exposing the reader to gang violence and random murders or he's having Scudder drink himself half to death; not a lot of hope escapes these pages.

It's been suggested in the past that Block has had his fair share of problems with alcohol. While he refuses to admit it or even talk about it, you have to think at the very least, he had some personal exposure to the addiction. The subject matter is written with a sense of intensity that is often hard to ignore.

Scudder advances so much as a character in this outing that he's quickly solidifying himself as one of my favorite detectives. His violent outburst against a common street thug is just so bad-ass that I actually found myself yelling "OH!" at the encounter's conclusion. The man can be rather ruthless when threatened but carries a sense of calm when surrounded by others. However, under all that, he comes across as terribly vulnerable this time around. He's just an all around great read and I can't wait to get deeper into the series.

( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Another quick novel is Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block, author of the “Burglar” series of mysteries (wonderful stuff). In this book his hero is Matthew Scudder, who reminds me of Ross Mac- Donald’s hero, Lew Archer. Scudder is hired by Kim, a hooker, who wants him to intercede with her pimp, Chance, so she can leave the business. Kim is subsequently murdered, with all the suspicion falling on Chance, who then hires Scudder to find the real killer. Chance is an unusual pimp, who squires his stable of six girls to assorted cultural events and who collects African tribal art. Scudder, meanwhile, in true hardboiled tradition, is fighting his own demons, and a subplot revolves around his battle against loneliness and alcohol. The resolution is perhaps a little too neat, but Block is a good writer, and the Scudder series is a welcome addition to the genre. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Pretty good one. The mystery wasn't entirely satisfying, but the balance of mystery and character was wonderful. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |

Ex-cop and struggling alcoholic Scudder is hired by a pimp to investigate the murder of one of the pimp's girls -- a killing the cops think the pimp committed himself. As the killings continue, so Scudder's struggles with the demon booze intensify; when finally he does unravel the mystery, the solution is one that comes clear out of left field. Among many lovely, near-surrealistic strokes are that the pimp is, despite all stereotyping, an intelligent, intellectual and caring man (I imagine this isn't common in real life) and all of the characters are educated: at one point, for example, a whore quotes Heine (p108); another quotes Yeats (p292). Shamefully, this is (I'm pretty certain) the first Block I've read. It won't be the last.
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  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Synopsis/blurb......
Nobody knows better than Matthew Scudder how far down a person can sink in this city. A young prostitute named Kim knew it also—and she wanted out. Maybe Kim didn't deserve the life fate had dealt her. She surely didn't deserve her death. The alcoholic ex-cop turned PI was supposed to protect her, but someone slashed her to ribbons on a crumbling New York City waterfront pier. Now finding Kim's killer will be Scudder's penance. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the slain hooker's past that are far dirtier than her trade. And there are many ways of dying in this cruel and dangerous town—some quick and brutal ... and some agonizingly slow.

My fifth and probably most enjoyable book so far in this prolific author’s series of 17 books to date. On the front cover of my edition, Stephen King blurbs “A hell of a book!” Whilst on the odd occasion I may take exception to King’s recommendations and disagree, not this time around. The book also won the Shamus Award for Best Hardcover PI Novel in 1982.

When I say probably, I will qualify it by saying I was a little bit disappointed in the resolution of the crime and the motivations and raison d’être for the protagonist acting the way he/she did – I’ll leave it ambiguous to avoid spoiling anyone’s subsequent reading of the book. It’s a minor gripe to be honest, but it was a little bit of a niggle for me just the same.

Kim, a good-time girl for hire, wants out of the game. Scudder is asked to speak to Kim’s pimp, Chance on her behalf to arrange this. Chance, once Scudder has spoken to him has no objections and an amicable arrangement is reached. Kim is murdered a few short days later. After overcoming his initial scepticism, believing her pimp is responsible for the killing; Matt is engaged by Chance to track down the killer, with Chance correctly believing that now he has been eliminated from the list of suspects, the cops will scale back the investigation giving it a low priority. Scudder, with lead detective Durkin’s approval, makes his usual diligent enquiries, doggedly moving closer to some answers.

The mystery in itself was fairly interesting, but for me the best parts of the book, and the other Scudder’s I have read, chart Scudder’s daily routine, his interactions with his associates and “friends”, and his general separateness. He’s in a city of eight million people and he’s lonely.

My main enjoyment was derived from the characters prominent in the book and the subsequent inter-play between them. Chance, a likeable black pimp; educated, elusive, enigmatic, caring and considered in everything he did and Scudder, who at the end manages to let his stoic, steely mask slip showing his frailty. His humanity has never been in doubt, but seeing this side of him, as he tries to tackle his alcoholism was endearing.

Looking forward to book six next month – When The Sacred Ginmill Closes...err actually this month, as Eight Million should have been done and dusted in May.

4 stars from 5
I bought or swapped my copy a long, long time ago from I know not where. ( )
  col2910 | Jun 14, 2013 |
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Epigraph
The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world. -- Edgar Allan Poe
Dedication
In memory of
Billy Dugan Cliff
Boston John Bambi
Mark the Dwarf
and
Red-Haired Maggie
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I saw her entrance.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380715732, Mass Market Paperback)

Nobody knows better than Matthew Scudder how far down a person can sink in this city. A young prostitute named Kim knew it also—and she wanted out. Maybe Kim didn't deserve the life fate had dealt her. She surely didn't deserve her death. The alcoholic ex-cop turned p.i. was supposed to protect her, but someone slashed her to ribbons on a crumbling New York City waterfront pier. Now finding Kim's killer will be Scudder's penance. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the slain hooker's past that are far dirtier than her trade. And there are many ways of dying in this cruel and dangerous town—some quick and brutal ... and some agonizingly slow.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Tormented by the slaying of the hooker who turned to him for help just before her death, cop-turned-private eye Matthew Scudder begins an investigation into the woman's past that reveals secrets that could be deadly for him.

» see all 2 descriptions

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