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All The Flowers Are Dying (2006)

All the Flowers Are Dying (2006)

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3.88 of 5 Votes: 4
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0061030961 (ISBN13: 9780061030963)

About book All The Flowers Are Dying (2006)

This, the sixteenth Matthew Scudder novel, opens as a psychologist comes to a Virginia prison to visit a man condemned to death for the brutal murders of three young boys. Although the evidence against him was overwhelming, the prisoner continues to protest his innocence. The psychologist claims to believe in the man's innocence, and he's the only one who does. The two men develop something of a relationship over the course of several visits and, at the end, the condemned man asks his new friend to witness his execution.Meanwhile, up in New York City, P.I. Matthew Scudder is now in his middle sixties and in semi-retirement. He's given up the license he briefly held and no longer actively solicits business. But he will take the occasional client if one seeks him out. After all, no one in his or her right mind could imagine Matthew Scudder living in Florida, playing golf and lining up for the 4:30 p.m. early bird buffet.A woman pays Matt $500.00 for what seems like a fairly simple task. She's dating a new man. She likes him, but he's a bit on the mysterious side. For example, they always go to her place and she's never been to his. She's worried that the guy might be a serial killer or--even worse--married, and she wants Matt to check him out.Matt takes the case and he and his sidekick, T.J., immediately run into a brick wall. The guy has a fairly common name, and they can't get a whiff of him. They attempt to tail him one night after he leaves the client's apartment, but the guy gives them the slip.Meanwhile, the psychiatrist from Virginia has evaporated into thin air and bad things begin to happen to unsuspecting people in New York. Matt will ultimately realize that something very bizarre and extremely dangerous is afoot. Even worse, a serial killer from a previous case may have Matt and his wife, Elaine, dead in his sights.This book continues some unfinished business from the previous Scudder novel, Hope to Die, and it's great to see Matthew Scudder back in action. Many familiar characters put in an appearance, and the book has an elegiac feel about it. Matt realizes that he's getting close to the end of the line, and after following him for nearly forty years, readers are bound to feel as unsettled about that as Matt does.This is a very good read and, when first published, had the feel that it might be the last of the Scudder series. Happily, that turned out not to be the case, but still, even re-reading the book one is torn between the temptation to devour it whole and the desire to stretch it out for as long as possible rather than let it go. My only objection to the book is that here again, as he did in Hope to Die, Block alternates between Scudder's POV and that of the villain. After fourteen books in which the only voice was Scudder's, it's still more than a little jarring to have another one intrude, but still, I enjoyed this book immensely.

I'm a fan of Lawrence Block's Mathew Scudder series and this one doesn't disappoint. Classic Scudder. Block at his best.Block didn't wait for his career as a writer to take off, he, unlike other struggling authors, invested time meeting with readers and booksellers. Even as a best-selling author, he would take it upon himself to tour the country giving talks at bookstore and signing books. I intercepted him years and years ago when he visited the Fresno Barnes & Noble on one of those trips. He brought a grocery bag of out-of-print titles which he sold himself, skipping the store's take. B & N used to allow that and I'm sure it helped to pay for his extensive multiple-city trip. I watched and most of the books sold that night were B & N's. Before he would leave a store, he would sign all the books that didn't sell and, as is the practice, those books got a special "Autographed Copy" sticker.Yesterday I was in a used bookstore in Fresno and they had three copies with B & N autographed-copy stickers and I wondered if they were from the same time I was there.I wish I'd invited him to the William Saroyan Writer's Conference one of the 15 years I acquired its faculty. Can't remember why I didn't. If you are new to the Scudder series, you can jump right in with any title, but, if I were you, I would start with the first in the series, which i believe is "Even the Wicked."

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Well, now that I've eaten all 17 of these in a single bite, I'm letting the series settle in my brain. They are extremely well plotted and the central character, thank heaven, does not often do the "superhero" thing that many he-men in this genre do. Block is a very witty writer, and if I was bothered a bit by similarities to another series (Jewish girlfriend who barely eats, wiseass black sidekick...), I forgive all for observations about New York city such as the following:"Officially it's the L train. Not too long ago it was the LL or Double-L. Then someone in authority (though not, I should think, a whole lot of authority) decided to do away with all the double letters. The GG train became the G and the LL became the L. Meanwhile the AA became the K, because there was already an A, and eventually disappeared entirely. I don't know who makes these decisions, or what he could possibly do for a living if he ever lost that job."Maybe you have to experience the joys of the shifting NYC MTA routes on a daily basis to savor that last sentence with as much delight as I do.
—Carol Jean

After framing an innocent man for three brutal murders, a killer from Matthew Scudder's past has resurfaced and means to get revenge on Matt and everyone he holds dear. Can Matthew find the killer before the killer finds him?"Wow!" is the best way I can sum this one up. I've read that Block wrote this one to be the series ender and it easily could be. As usual, Block delivered the goods and had me guessing, even though I knew who the killer was when I opened the book. There was a red herring that I just couldn't ignore even though I was positive he wasn't the killer.Matt's supporting cast is all there. The long-suffering Joe Durkin retires, Danny Boy Bell reveals he has prostate cancer, and Mick Ballou makes another cameo. Matt's finally carrying a cellphone which I find hilarious for some reason.The chapters written from the killer's point of view are some cold, chilling stuff, just like in the previous volume. While I had a pretty good idea Scudder wasn't going to die, who knew who the killer would be taking to the grave with him? The whole Preston Applewhite angle showed what a sick bastard the killer was.Block hit another home run with this one. Not to be missed by Matthew Scudder fans.
—Dan Schwent

Block lulls you into a sense of ease. His words read like a meeting of two long-time friends over a cup of coffee. They don't necessarily have a great deal to say to one another, they just enjoy each other's company. And then next thing you know someone's been shot/stabbed/raped and a murder is being solved. That happens through out All the Flowers are Dying. There's an ebb and flow of action from start to finish that sometimes switches between the two like flicking on and off the lights. It's a good pace. Just before you have the chance to get too bored with a slow scene, Block's there at the switch to wake you up. Some of his writing is quite vivid and gorily graphic. At other times he shows Hitchcockian restraint with a crafty subtly that reminded me of Patrick O'Brian's work. It's been a long career for Block, who began with dimestore crime novellas. What we have with this sixteenth edition in his Scudder series is a maturation of the often ham-fisted crime noir potboiler of yesteryear into a more earthy, human story. Characters are fleshed out, motives delved into more deeply.Yes, I've intentionally avoided summarizing the book on any level. Spoilers would abound with any attempt. Just know that there are bad guys, good are bad people, good people, but topping the population are your average-joe gray people. There is crime. There is resolution. There is also a good deal of reality and graspable humanity, as well as repulsive inhumanity. It's a veritable melting pot of all that is now.
—Jason Koivu

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