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Out on the Cutting Edge by Lawrence Block

Out on the Cutting Edge (original 1989; edition 1996)

by Lawrence Block

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4231125,018 (3.86)6
Title:Out on the Cutting Edge
Authors:Lawrence Block
Info:Avon Books (1996), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:"Matt Scudder" "crime fiction" "New York" "missing person"

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Out on the Cutting Edge by Lawrence Block (1989)



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Two for the price of one, although the investigation into Eddie’s death has more coincidence and serendipity than one would like. Then again, serendipity had much to do with the rationale for Paula’s death.

Matt’s looking for Paula. Referred to by a local cop, Matt is “hired” by her father to find her. She has disappeared with no trace. She’s 24 and Matt put her picture on the back of his business card. That often leads to wiseacres calling and asking for money in return for information when all they really have is a knife waiting for Matt’s ribs. But it also serendipitously leads to the solution. Simultaneously, Matt becomes concerned about a fellow AA member who had befriended him and had said he had something on his mind he needed to unload since expiation was considered important as one of the steps in the Twelve-step program. (We learn a lot about AA -- probably a little more than necessary, but it was a bit interesting and certainly part of Block’s style for the Scudder books.) Eddie didn’t show for their rendezvous and is now missing.

The book was originally published in the eighties, a time of transition for the area of New York known as Hell’s Kitchen. It had been known as a very undesirable place, but that was changing. The change becomes part of the solution to Eddie’s death.

Compelling reading in Block’s inimitable style. ( )
  ecw0647 | Jan 12, 2015 |
Man, am I going to be sad when I officially get caught up and I have no more Scudder books to read. Good thing I have about 11 more to go!

When you pick this book up, you're going to notice some major changes to the Scudder universe. At the end of Eight Million Ways to Die, Matt comes to terms with his alcoholism and attends - and participates - in an AA Meeting. At the beginning of this novel, Matt is 3 years sober and is heavily involved in the program. Also, we meet a new character (Mick Ballou) who is destined, so I hear, to become an integral part of the series.

I was very pleased with Out on the Cutting Edge overall. The integration of two mysteries made for a compelling read, as Scudder is rarely concentrating on one case for a lengthy period of time. I can say with confidence that I did not see that ending coming whatsoever. Block did it again - leading me in one direction and blindsiding me with where he intended to end up. Nothing satisfies me more that when I think I have it figured out only to be so wrong that I yell, "WHAT?!" out loud when it's revealed.

I can't recommend this series enough and I'm happy Block has written so many installments. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Just like this series a lot. Sure, this one was weak with the solution but not weak enough to be upset. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
ereader ebook
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
Alcoholic ex-cop turned unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder returns. Scudder, a little over three years sober, is hired to investigate the disappearance of a young ingénue from the Midwest. He doesn't want the job, the trail is too cold and the clues are almost nonexistent, he tries to convince the young woman's father that it would be money wasted, but when the father insists Scudder reluctantly accepts the job. With little hope that the girl will ever be found the detective goes through the motions, interacting with the people and places that make up New York's Hell's Kitchen, waiting for something to break. Along the way he becomes obsessed with the apparent suicide of fellow AA member Eddie Dunphy, begins a new romance, drinks a lot of coffee and Coca-Cola and ponders the value of humanity.

This is the first novel to feature a completely sober Scudder. The storyline is dark and melancholy, more about Scudder going through the day-to-day motions of his sobriety than with his great detecting skills. The hours formerly wasted in barrooms are now whiled away in AA meetings and coffee shops. It's an introspective novel, a good one, featuring a man on the verge of something - he's not quite sure what - trying to reconcile his new life as a sober detective with his old life as a drunken one. When someone asks if Eddie was sober when he died, Scudder replies, "Would it make him any less dead?"

This novel also marks the first appearance of Mick "The Butcher Boy" Ballou, a notorious lifelong criminal with an explosive temper and violent past who figures largely in many of the later Scudder books. More crime story than mystery, this book is hardboiled but not action packed. It's full of thought provoking moments and things that will have the reader remembering them long after the book has been finished.

This is another of those books that probably won't have a great appeal to anyone who isn't already familiar with Matthew Scudder. There is adult language and situations, some racial slurs and brief descriptions of violence. ( )
  Mike-L | Apr 8, 2013 |
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I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night . . .

--W.H. Auden
"September 1, 1939"
for my cousin
Jeffrey Nathan
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When I imagine it, it is always a perfect summer day, with the sun high in a vivid blue sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380709937, Mass Market Paperback)

This is a city that seduces dreamers . . . then eats their dreams.

Matthew Scudder understands the futility of his search for a longtime missing Midwestern innocent who wanted to be an actress in the vast meat-grinder called New York City. But her frantic father heard that Schudder is the best—and now the ex-cop-turned-p.i. is scouring the hell called Hell's Kitchen looking for anything that might resemble a lead. And in this neighborhood of the lost, he's finding love—and death—in the worst possible places.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Scudder haunts the cold trail of a lost ingenue and finds love and death in all the wrong places in New York's Hell's Kitchen. Sequel to: When the sacred ginmill closes.

(summary from another edition)

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