Ballou is a giant man with big hands and a bloodstained apron. Rumors abound about his violent prowess, and include toting around a head in a bowling ball bag and beating a man to death with a baseball bat. Despite Ballou's possible homicidal tendencies, he and Scudder hit it off and talk to each other in a way usually reserved only for the confessional or perhaps the man pouring your whiskey.
Inexplicably, there is an instant kinship and unbeknownst to either man, Ballou is the key to solving the mystery of not only the missing girl, but Eddie's untimely death. View all 8 comments. It's been a little over three years since the events in the stellar Eight Million Ways To Die , and Matt has successfully been able to stay sober and regularly participate in AA meetings.
A man hires him to track down his missing actress daughter and we're off to the races with my next Matthew Scudder read! The actual mystery storyline of the missing actress is one of the least interesting of all the Scudder books so far, but witnessing Matthew's struggle to maintain sobriety in Manhattan and his It's been a little over three years since the events in the stellar Eight Million Ways To Die , and Matt has successfully been able to stay sober and regularly participate in AA meetings.
The actual mystery storyline of the missing actress is one of the least interesting of all the Scudder books so far, but witnessing Matthew's struggle to maintain sobriety in Manhattan and his experiences in AA is what makes the book really enjoyable. The mystery is second priority. And as usual with the series, the supporting characters in this one are great, from the repentant Eddie Matt's AA friend to the enigmatic and dangerous Mick Ballou.
A popular staple in hard-boiled detective fiction is for the protagonist to be a hardcore drinker, like it makes them harder or grittier or something. The Scudder series stands out to me because it really shows the negative effects of such drinking in a tender, honest, and heartfelt way. But author Lawrence Block never allows Matt to have a sentimental, self-pitying attitude about the whole thing.
He just takes it one day at a time. There were a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all. I didn't want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn't bear it without it. But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It'll hurt, it'll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.
View all 3 comments. Oct 05, Brandon rated it really liked it Shelves: block , detective-books , fiction , 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 beginning of this novel, Matt is 3 years sober and is heavily involved in the program. Also, we meet a new character Mick Ballo Man, am I going to be sad when I officially get caught up and I have no more Scudder books to read. 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. I can't recommend this series enough and I'm happy Block has written so many installments. Slow, easy start, great dialogue and a Terrific second half, 4. Two small mysteries that grow and grow, great pacing, rhythm and dialogue, good complexity, some terrific characters, especially Mickey Ballou. This book is almost up to the extraordinary quality of "8 Million Ways to Die".
Wonderful stuff! Thank you. I'm reminded of the UK tv show, Inspector Morse, one of my all-time favourites. Each story Slow, easy start, great dialogue and a Terrific second half, 4. Each story was always about two things: 1 The solution of the murder, and 2 the collateral damage to people and families that the police cause in their investigations. This always produces a story with a tragedy at its core, a sadness.
I get that quiet sadness in parts of Block's Scudder stories, but it's strongly present in this one, from beginning to end. It's also central to stories from other fine crime-noir authors. Camels, a couple of packs a day. Or Picayunes, but they were hard to find. They would rip your throat out and turn your toe-nails brown. You could get cancer just carrying a pack in your purse.
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I think I see part of the solution to the Eddie death. The clues are in the story pretty clearly, but I'm still not at all clear on the missing Paula mystery. I wanted a drink. There are a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all.
I enjoyed this very much, great pacing and dialogue, almost up to the quality of "8 Million Ways to Die". Sadly, after this, the whole series falls apart. Block has famously never talked of his possible AA membership, but I would strongly suggest that every book he wrote after Matt Block goes sober is a "virtual AA meeting" for Block. Notes: 1. The Lambs are actors, pretending to be gentlemen. And the Friars—the Friars are neither, pretending to be both.
Matt's become a "soft boiled" detective. I went into the bathroom and caught sight of my reflection in the mirror over the sink. All my years looked back at me, and I could feel their weight, pressing down on my shoulders. I ran the shower hot and stood under it for a long time Perhaps it's intentional to show how empty Matt's daily life is? This series has become the benchmark for me of what a great PI book series is.
I compare it to every detective book stories i have read before and everything i will read from now on.
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It is the best PI book series i have read of any era. I hold Hammett the best writer of this kind but his series was short stories with The Continental Op. Block series has surpassed the others with similar books. The only real flaw in the novel was that Scudder was more lucky than he did good work in the case he wo This series has become the benchmark for me of what a great PI book series is. The only real flaw in the novel was that Scudder was more lucky than he did good work in the case he worked. In another PI book it would have ruined the story, what i feel for the characters if the actual PI work was not good enough.
In these books its not really too important even if the PI cases are usually realistic, great. Block writing, themes in other areas of the novel, Scudder himself is really the why i read the series. I don't read this series for simple entertaining PI story,plot. What differentiates this one from the other books in the series is that Scudder doesn't really have a case here.
Read it, it's heartbreaking, fantastic and extremely rewarding if you're already into the Scud. Apr 18, David Schaafsma rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery-detective-thriller.
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He used to drink coffee with bourbon, on the knife edge of caffeine to stay awake and alcohol to sedate himself. Having been a mildly crooked cop, he befriends criminals, sex workers, as cops and detectives often do; he's in murky moral waters and so then he tithes, and gives money to the homeless on the streets: On the edge, he could go either way. He agrees. Paula lived in Willa's building, as did Eddie.
In every one of these Scudder mysteries the central person in question is a young woman in some kind of peril--lost, in danger, living alone--or sometimes that woman is already dead and he is hired to find out how and why. Sometimes it kills them. Chicago newspapers document that a Michael "Mickey" Finn managed the Lone Star Saloon and sometimes used knockout drops to incapacitate and rob some of his customers.
It adds another layer of despair to the book. Everyone is alone, trying to make connections, trying to survive, and Scudder is one of these people, just trying his best to be a good man. Dec 29, Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it. AA is no longer such a secretive organization thanks to Matt Scudder and his life now as a member of the somewhat secretive group.
Secretive only because of the nature of why they meet, they're all alcoholics. This amounts to nothing for me except furthering my knowledge of the world around me. Interesting storyline and Matt is at his best but the primary reason I gave it four stars is the ending. It is as surprising as an out of the blue firm slap on the face.
OMG, really, Matt? You figured it o AA is no longer such a secretive organization thanks to Matt Scudder and his life now as a member of the somewhat secretive group. You figured it out? As usual, I was clueless right up to the end. After all the mysteries I've read, a person would think I would be getting better at solving the puzzle of the mystery but not with Lawrence Block's Scudder series.
Surprises at every turn of the page especially in the last few chapters. I'm so glad that a GR friend can't recall who, Tfitoboy, I think or Mohammed turned me on to this series because Block has given me more than a few hours of pure pulpy entertainment. Lucky me! And there's more to come, thankfully. Haven't read Scudder yet? If not and you enjoy hard-boiled, grab the first in the series if you can, Sins of the Fathers because if you're like me, everything has a beginning.
Sep 09, Toby rated it really liked it Shelves: black-as-night. After a flashback to the 70s in the previous Matt Scudder book we're back to his present with the seventh instalment; Matt's in AA now, been clean for over three years, and he's passing out wallet sized photos of a missing girl, an actress from Muncie, Indiana who fled small town life to make it as an We're all whirling merrily through the void on a dying planet, and gay people are just doing their usual number, being shamelessly trendy as always.
After a flashback to the 70s in the previous Matt Scudder book we're back to his present with the seventh instalment; Matt's in AA now, been clean for over three years, and he's passing out wallet sized photos of a missing girl, an actress from Muncie, Indiana who fled small town life to make it as an actor in New York. This isn't one of those hackneyed books about how the big city swallows naive young hopefuls whole, the kind of story much lesser writers would have written with such a premise, this is Lawrence Block and he's got something much more interesting to talk about.
Even if that's just watching his unofficial private investigator fighting his considerable inner demons and trying to stay off the booze. I admit to having a fear for the series when I saw that the intention was to have Scudder quit his copious drinking, who wants to read about a tee-total holier than thou gumshoe afterall?
But I had nothing to worry about, essentially Block is writing the exact same thing only with a more complex psychological study; instead of Scudder getting annihilated whilst working he's attending meetings and thinking about ways to not drink and even putting himself in harms way by hanging out in ginmills "to solve the case. Very intelligent writing from The Master. Alcoholism aside this is another entertaining mystery, the main case of the missing young girl is going nowhere and at the same time an acquaintance of Matt's dies, Matt dovetails the investigations of both and by more luck than skill comes out on top, as you would expect, it's his name on the series afterall.
As Martin Beck will tell you, detective work is about doing all the basic things right to close the net of the investigation so that when you catch a break it just seems like luck. Along the way he meets intriguing new people, some who harm and some who help and some who are just there because they're interesting background characters. There's more of Block's trademark casual observances of New York life that give his novels real depth and in the same manner yet with much more subtlety a strong criticism of the status quo in his city, this time it's the housing problems that face all cities and the working classes who suffer the most in the face of gentrification, that come under his gaze.
Feb 08, Mizuki rated it liked it Shelves: detective-novels , it-is-okay , chinese-translation , crime-fictions. This is a decent detective novel, the story about the reach for a missing young woman isn't very dramatic but I enjoy going along with the main character on his quest to solve the disappearance of the missing woman, then a man he knows was also killed Is the local gang involved?
In the end, the above questions are answered and we got to the end of the quest knowing a little more about our main character, etc. This is one heck of a book. Scudder is now sober for more than three years and active in AA. A fellow member, feeling anxious about something he had done. He is soon found dead, discovered by Scudder who was concerned when he was missing from meetings. This develops into a very tricky situation I won't spoil. The main assignment for our man Scudder is to discover how a young woman from In This is one heck of a book. The main assignment for our man Scudder is to discover how a young woman from Indiana disappeared from New York City where she worked odd jobs while studying acting.
To avoid guilt or other possible conflicts, find the free time to read straight through as this book cannot be put down. She has disappeared with no trace. 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. It had been known as a very undesirable place, but that was changing. I started idly flipping through it, got hooked pretty quickly and finished it in a couple of hours -- it went down neat heh and Block is a good Plain Stylist with tight reasonable plots.
People who write about these books often say how the city is another character, and while that's a bit of a cliche -- you hear it a lot about L. Block doesn't just get the city right, he gets the people in the city right too: the petty criminals, the rooming house landladies, the would-be actresses, hustlers and bartenders and homeless, the people dug in or grimly hanging on or drifting away. I was intrigued enough to pick up the next paperback and will probably read to the end of the series especially if I can find Eight Million -- the books before it don't sound that interesting to me.
Two things really stuck out: several times, in big ways, Scudder does something the narrative just gives you no clue about, and they're important things. There's a little bit of white space or a chapter break, but no indication at all something Big is going down in between the bits of story we're not seeing -- not even the old-fashioned dodge "I explained briefly what I had in mind and he agreed.
I consider it cheating. When it's a first-person narrator, it's worse than cheating. It's just sloppy trickery. If the author drops a sly hint or two that you can pick up on going back over it later wondering "where the hell did that come from," it's almost enough to make me forgive him, but not quite. This went way beyond the pale. Scudder also meets up with a flamboyant, brutal wonderfully described 'Westie' named Mickey Ballou, called The Butcher Boy, and the pages just catch light when he appears. The relationship between him and Scudder is reminiscent of Easy Rawlins and Mouse, in Walter Mosley's own mystery series.
I could rave about him for paragraphs except most of what I would have to say would be total spoilers for the book, and I wouldn't want to do that to potential readers. I'd read through ten crap bland detective novels to find one character like this -- he's just amazing. Apparently he and Scudder become friends and he makes at least cameo appearances in some of the later novels, which is neat.
I always love character and theme more than plot, and I'll forgive anyone who can come up with Mickey Ballou a lot of sins. Apparently there's some question whether or not Block himself might be an alcoholic, given the depth and detail of not just Scudder's external AA meetings but the internal struggles he goes through.
Not that it's any of my or anyone else's goddamned business, but if I had to say, I'd guess Yes -- there are just too many little bits that are totally right that someone who hadn't gone through it wouldn't know about. The way the "preamble" is read in a meeting Scudder goes to outsiders don't know to call it that , how you're discouraged from donating any amount of money larger than a dollar as I found to my surprise in early sobriety when I tried to put a five in the basket , the little catchphrases they tell you like "Nobody ever died from lack of sleep" -- sure, a good writer could pick that and more up hanging around AA meetings for a while, and Block is a good writer.
But people don't usually hang around AA meetings unless they have a reason to one of the very, very rare times I saw non-alcoholics at meetings, they were doing observational fieldwork and always announced themselves beforehand. It doesn't really matter -- you don't need to be a drunk to write about one, for God's sake. Block gets it right. The degree -- an almost intimate one -- to which he gets it right makes me think the accuracy depends on first-hand experience rather than second-hand observation, but even if it's the latter rather than the former: he gets it right.
At this point it seems like Block will never, ever let me down when I want a solid Scudder story. Feb 01, Maggie K rated it it was amazing Shelves: mystery. So, this is so far my favorite of the Scudder books. It has some great, realistic characters, a good mystery that seems unsolvable, and indeed, does only solve by odd coincidence.
The only annoyance I had was that we werent shown the clue that helped Matt know who killed Eddie, but then it would have all been so obvious if he had, so I guess I cant complain I am wondering about why Scudder is considered morally upright and Travis McGee is not. They are actually a lot alike! Jan 19, Ewan rated it it was amazing Shelves: before-the-list , , , , Great Scudder.
With added Ballou! After two books that were mainly about Scudder's relationship with booze, Out on the Cutting Edge shifts the focus back on the mystery. A small town girl seeking big city thrills disappears in NYC and one of Scudder's Alcoholic Anonymous acquaintance suffers an unfortunate accident just before he was going to make a major confession to Scudder.
The first one ends with a coincidence that I had trouble buying into but the second one delivers in spades with a resolution that I didn't see coming. I f After two books that were mainly about Scudder's relationship with booze, Out on the Cutting Edge shifts the focus back on the mystery. I feel Block's plots are actually a bit underrated with the mysteries consistently hitting that sweet spot between straightforward and satisfying. It keeps highlighting the intelligence and perseverance of Scudder without making him seem like a genius or making leaps of logic that are impossible outside of stories.
His way of solving the crime makes him pretty unique, there are no procedural elements. He goes and talks to as many people as possible, even if they are tangentially related to the mystery at best about everything under the sun fully knowing most of it is redundant and then sifting through all that information to find the missing link. The smartest part is how Block makes such a meandering process though it creates minor pacing issues keep providing results in a very logical fashion. Block brilliantly invokes a weariness with his writing that unlike most crime books doesn't feel born out of cynicism, instead he makes it seem like the inevitable price the working class man pays for living in his grim NYC.
The dialogue lacks theatricality but never impact making it excellent. Scudder never completely moral or ethical is still always likeable as he retains a pragmatic sense of justice that feels like the optimum solution under the circumstances. Two new characters are introduced - a love interest Willa whose boozing presents a challenge for Scudder yet there is a feeling she might be the one and an Irish gangster with whom Scudder bonds over anecdotes.
Ultimately the Scudder books are like drinking good beer, not the absolute best that booze lovers or crime fiction fans can get their mitts on but one they must try lest they miss out on one of the most iconic pleasures they could enjoy. May 24, Hugh Sturrock rated it liked it. Scudder on the mend spending less time in bars and more in AA meetings. Hope he reappears in a future Scudder tale.
Aug 20, Mike rated it really liked it. Alcoholic ex-cop turned unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder returns. With little hope that the girl will ever be found the detective goes through the Alcoholic ex-cop turned unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder returns. 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. More crime story than mystery, this book is hardboiled but not action packed. There is adult language and situations, some racial slurs and brief descriptions of violence. May 21, David rated it liked it. I enjoy Block's stuff, and only discovered the Scudder character after the movie "A Walk Among the Tombstones" which after reading several of them don't think it exactly captured the Spirit of the novels.
Scudder isn't a private investigator. He's never followed through the process of getting sa license. He's an ex-cop battling alcholism in this case he is sober, but in the earlier books, he is still drinking He takes an occasional "job" and begins to go about asking questions, etc. This ti I enjoy Block's stuff, and only discovered the Scudder character after the movie "A Walk Among the Tombstones" which after reading several of them don't think it exactly captured the Spirit of the novels.
This time about a missing girl. Along the way, an acquaintance from an A. Before that confession is made, the man commits suicide.. Soon, Scudder is investigating two mysteries.. Scudder manages to get into places using his gift of gab-- at times he is almost threatening, at others, just asking questions and going from place to place-- at times obtaining leads that are seemingly very thin and other times moving forward. I just felt that the author wasn't playing exactly fair with the reader.
And then, there's the other mystery, and Scudder, resolves it BUT once gain, fails to tell the reader the major clue that Scudder found early on-- he tells us the places he searched and that might have thrown a clue our way, but suddenly, there's a clue that he picks up and drops on us out of nowhere in an unfair manner. Still, these novels are very readable, unless you mind reading all about the A. Sep 12, Michel rated it really liked it Recommends it for: All who love New York, and all who struggle with addiction. Shelves: mystery , nyc. The Perfect Wife is a chilling and uniquely disturbing twenty-first-century twist on the unreliable narrator that makes for a compulsive and deeply thought-provoking book.
What a wonderful and unique thriller. Those last lines. JP Delaney has outdone himself with his latest dynamic, razor-sharp, and thought-provoking thriller. A must-read! The Perfect Wife is a chilling and uniquely disturbing twenty-first century twist on the unreliable narrator that makes for a compulsive and deeply thought-provoking book. With the tale of Abbie, Delaney delivers a sharp reflection on misogyny. With every thriller must come a dizzying plot twist and an unforeseeable denouement, as is definitely the case here.
This journey is a captivating, deeply engrossing one. Read An Excerpt. Hardcover —. About The Perfect Wife The perfect life. Listen to a sample from The Perfect Wife. Also by JP Delaney. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles.
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