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Even The Wicked (2000)

Even the Wicked (2000)

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3.95 of 5 Votes: 4
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0752834509 (ISBN13: 9780752834504)
orion books

About book Even The Wicked (2000)

I've said several times here now that I believe Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series to be the best PI series ever written. Some of the books individually stand with any of the classics produced by people like Raymond Chandler et al., but Block has produced far more books in this series (sixteen and soon to be seventeen) than any of the other "Masters" of the genre. The books are consistently very good if not great, and in addition to writing a number of inventive and absorbing plots, Block has created a cast of memorable, fully-drawn characters in addition to Scudder, the main protagonist. He has also allowed them all to age and become more complex through the years, so that reading one of these books is like returning to visit a group of old and very interesting friends. If that weren't enough, Block has also built a lushly-drawn set--Scudder's New York City--in which these stories take place.Even the Wicked is the thirteenth book in the series. Scudder is in his middle fifties, now, happily married and domesticated. He's a much more mellow character than he was in the early years, and this particular book is also a bit tamer than some of the earlier entries. The violence is not as gruesome and doesn't seem as threatening; the sex is not as hot and bothered, and Scudder doesn't have to get really nasty and violent with anyone.Which is not to say that this isn't a very enjoyable read. Scudder is forced to deal with a series of complicated crimes, perpetrated by at least three separate characters. In the main case, a vigilante, inspired by a newspaper columnist, is ridding NYC of despicable characters that the legal system is unable to touch for one reason or another. After claiming three scumbag victims, he announced that his next target will be a criminal defense attorney who has won a number of high profile cases. The attorney hires Scudder to try to find the killer, even though the police are working night and day to catch him.Scudder arranges protection for the attorney and gets on the job. At the same time a friend asks Matt to look into the shooting death of an AIDS victim who was killed in a city park. The police are not pursuing the case very aggressively and are apparently ready to write it off as a random act of violence in the big city. Matt, of course, will not dismiss it so easily.Scudder works the two investigations in and around evenings with his wife, Elaine, and again engages the services of TJ, the street kid who first appeared as Scudder's semi-sidekick a few books earlier. It's fun to watch him work and it's also fun to listen to the banter among the characters. And inevitably, Matt's dogged persistence will pay dividends in the end.This book certainly doesn't have the hard edge of some of the earlier Scudder novels, but you wouldn't expect a fifty-five-year-old PI to be wrapped as tightly and to act as fiercely as the young, alcoholic ex-cop that we first met in The Sins of the Fathers. After a very long wait, we are about to finally get a new Matthew Scudder novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff, which is set earlier in Scudder's career. I would expect this new book to resemble much more closely in tone some of the best books in the series, and I, for one, can hardly wait.

A solid three star read in which Matt Scudder takes on the classic locked-room mystery. Although not one of the more memorable Scudder books, it's an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. Let the rain begin!We begin with a pleasant domestic scene, TJ and Scudder at Scudder's house, watching a boxing match. TJ is leafing through a spy catalog idly suggesting ideas for their business, particularly a computer system. It becomes a telling detail about moving Scudder forward into the future and his reluctance to do so, and anchors the story in time and culture. They are interrupted when Scudder gets a call from Adrian Whitfield, a lawyer who Scudder has worked for once or twice before. He's just been notified that the latest anonymous letter to show up in columnist Marty McGaw's mailbox has marked him for death. "The Will of the People" is a vigilante who has been using a columnist to share his exploits, murdering people who are untouchable, at least by the legal system. This first victim was a murdering pedophile that Adrian had defended and had been recently released. Adrian consults with Scudder for safety strategies and ends up adding a retainer for finding Will. Half-heartedly working the case, Scudder ends up taking on a second investigation when an friend from AA asks for his help. Her friend, already dying of AIDS, was murdered as he sat on a park bench.Thankfully, the two cases don't converge, which would have stretched credulity. While the solution to the locked-room mystery was predictable, a subsequent twist surprised me and kept me interested. Block continues to have a good ear for realistic dialogue that does more than feed the reader plot points. Characters are steady, largely without significant development in this installment. Fair enough; can't have drama all the time. Scudder's personal life is solidly domestic, and a few friends return for cameos. TJ plays a larger role, as well as a police officer from a former investigation. Perhaps the most disconcerting section is when Scudder attempts to modernize his phone investigation skills. I find I miss the days when he would drop a dime in the corner booth and sweet-talk an operator into giving information. Block reminds of those times as he notes the disappearance of phones from the city, and the inability to accept incoming calls. It's an odd note; is it because Block missed the old days? Scudder? Is Block highlighting the difference? Maybe that's a series motif all along; after all, a few books ago, a number of mentions was made of his 'call forwarding' feature on his room's phone. Overall, a steady entry into the Scudder series.

Do You like book Even The Wicked (2000)?

Even the Wicked, by Lawrence Block. A.I actually had read this book a few years ago and had forgotten it until I got into it. But I only remembered parts of the book from the past so it was fine as a reread. There is a man sending open letters to the newspaper indicating in each case that someone is too evil to live. Then the person is murdered, for example, a child molester who wasn’t convicted, and afterward another letter arrives for the newspaper with the writer taking credit for the murders. He calls himself Will, or the Will of the people. The people he has been killing have been people who bring about no sympathy to the public and some people secretly applaud the killings. But when the newspaper printed a fourth letter saying that a particular judge should be killed, the judge in question hires Matt Scudder to guard him and to find out who Will actually is. Matt does his best to guard the judge, and ultimately determines who Will is. But then the letters, although very different now, keep appearing in the newspaper. So he has a copycat letter writer who ultimately kills one of the people he writes about, and Scudder must figure out who it is. A secondary plot is that one of his friends from his AA group asks him to look into the death of her friend who was dying from AIDS anyway, but who was shot on a public bench in a park, seemingly randomly. As Scudder investigates, he finds that the man in question had too much money, and there may be a problem involving the selling of life insurance policies by terminally ill owners to investors. It’s a very good book. The narrator, who I can’t now remember, was way too slow, but he did narrate the book well. This is the book where T.J. finally convinces Matt to buy a computer.
—Kathleen Hagen

I've never read a Lawrence Block novel I didn't like, but even so, this one is particularly special. This is the first Matthew Scudder adventure I ever bought in hardcover and it remains one of my favorites. A serial killer calling himself The Will of the Power has been stalking prominent residents of Manhattan, communicating entirely through letters written to The New York Times. A secondary storyline involves Scudder's search to find out brutally murdered a man who was already dying of AIDS. Are the cases related? Some first-rate detective work, and some beautiful character moments involving Scudder's frequent sidekicks/partners, Elaine and TJ. A gripping, fast-paced page turner, and one of the finest books in the entire series.
—Joe Barlow

I'm actually in the middle of the next and last of the Scudder mysteries right now. (Please, Mr. Block! More, please.) So I don't want to get muddled up by dwelling too much on the plot of Even the Wicked (which, in my opinion, was well crafted if a little contrived in places). So here are a couple of quotes that represent the kind of writing that keeps me coming back.On a topless bar: “It’s probably sad at any hour, deeply sad in the manner of most emporia that cater to our less-noble instincts. The air has an ozone-tainted reek of base dreams and broken promises. Early in the day, the place made no sense at all.”And this: “There is, I have been taught, all the difference in the world between the desire and the act. The one is written on water, the other carved in stone.”The defense rests.

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