Book Review: Time to Murder and Create by Lawrence Block

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Time to Murder and Create is the second book in the Matthew Scudder book series.  I recently read the first book in the series and reviewed it here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/23/review-the-sins-of-the-fathers-by-lawrence-block/

I fell in love with this character after reading the first book and watching the new movie Walk Among the Tombstones, I reviewed this movie here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/03/03/review-a-walk-among-the-tombstones/

Lawrence Block wrote this book in 1976 and reflects that time frame in New York City.  Some plot lines may not work today as well as they worked in the 1970’s, I’ll get to this a little later.

In this story there is only one returning character and that is Scudder himself.  I would say you can read this book without reading the first book and still enjoy it.  We do flashback to his “origin” story for a lack of a better word in this book, so if you are not familiar with what happened in book one, it gives you a brief synopsis.

Scudder evolves a little more in this book, but not much.  He is still very religious or at least looking at religion for some answers.  He is drinking very heavily in this installment as well.  He is our typical hardboiled ex-cop in a lot of respects, but very original in many ways, right up your alley if you are a fan of hardboiled and noir fiction.

This book puts our hero in a very unique situation.  He is approached by an old informant who feels Scudder is an honest man.   Jake “The Spinner” Jablon is the former informant turned blackmailer.  He gives Scudder the sealed envelope to open in the case of his death.  Of course we have seen this “if something happens to me the information will go straight to the Police” scenario.  What was unique is we usually see it from the blackmailer or the person being blackmailed, never from the point of view of the person holding the information in case of death.  We soon find out Spinner has been murdered and Scudder is on the case to find out who did it.   The problem is Spinner has been blackmailing three people, not just one!  So our hero must investigate all three to find the murderer, all the while keeping their secrets safe from the police.  Spinner only wanted the guilty party punished in this case and the other two set free of their past crimes.

Now back to why this works in the 1970’s but would never work today.  One of the three being black mailed used to be in the porn industry, she is married to a rich and powerful man and wants this kept secret from her new circle of society.  Another is a politician hoping to be Governor of New York someday.  His past is one of liking little boys and Spinner has the proof.  In today’s world of the internet, I would find it hard to believe a former porn-star who is rich and famous now would be able to hide that fact.  The second case I feel could be hidden from the public, but someone of that stature and with today’s politicians looking for dirt on their competition, this would be hard to keep secret very long.

This is another fun read and I look forward to reading more of Mr. Blocks work and the Scudder series in particular.  The stories may not be totally original, but Block always puts an original spin on them making them very unique and entertaining.  A good read for any fan of crime fiction.

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Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

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A Walk Among the Tombstones is a Matthew Scudder movie from 2014.  Matthew Scudder is a character written by Lawrence Block that has been in one other movie and in 17 books.  This story comes from the 10th book in the series.  I’ve recently just read the first book in the series and reviewed it here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/23/review-the-sins-of-the-fathers-by-lawrence-block/

Though I’ve only read one book and now seen this movie, I’m a big fan of Scudder and look forward to reading more of the books.  Liam Neeson plays Scudder, a recovering alcoholic, ex-police officer that isn’t a private detective, but does favors for people and for those favors, these people give Scudder gifts.

This film is written for the screen and directed by Scott Frank who also wrote and directed The Lookout.  He is also bringing another classic noir character to the screen soon, Hoke Mosely a character that has appeared in 5 books by Charles Willeford.  This story will be coming to the television screen instead of the big screen, but I still look forward to seeing it when it is released.  Frank has also written many other crime and neo-noir stories for the screen, he seems to have a good sense of taking a classic crime or noir novel and bringing it screen.

Some of the notable supporting cast is David Harbour, who often plays the creepy character, goes above and beyond in this film.  Dan Stevens plays a drug dealer/business type very well.  Stevens come onto my radar after his starring role in “The Guest.”  The Guest is a very fun movie that covers a lot of genres, if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend it as well.  Ólafur Darri Ólafsson also plays a pretty creepy role that is a very interesting character.

So the story for this movie is a fellow AA member’s brother needs Scudder’s help.  Scudder meets with him and quickly figures out that he is a drug dealer.  This dealer has had his wife kidnapped and killed, but because he is a drug dealer he can not ask for the police’s help.  He asks Scudder for help and soon Scudder takes on the case.  The story takes off from there.  This is not only a neo-noir film in story, but is very much filmed in a classic noir style as well.  I really enjoyed this story and the visuals of the film. I really hope this is a new franchise for Liam Neeson now that Taken has run its course.  I would really look forward to seeing more movies with him as Scudder.  If you’re a Lawrence Block fan, or a Liam Neeson fan, or just a fan of a hardboiled tone, you will like this film.

Review: The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

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I have never read a Lawrence Block book and decided it was time to jump into the world of Block.  The Sins of the Fathers came up on my Nook one day for $0.99, it was a sign, time to start reading Block.  This is the book I always wanted to start with because the is the first in a series around the character Matthew Scudder.  This book was first published in 1976 and Scudder has been part of popular culture ever since, well maybe not popular culture but with the noir fanbase for sure.  17 books later and Scudder is still going strong.   Scudder has even appeared in two movies, 8 Million Ways to Die based on the 5th book in the series and A Walk Among the Tombstones based on the 10th book in the series.  I plan on watching Tombstone sometime soon and giving a review on this site.  I also plan to read the rest of these books and review them as I go.

Block is an amazing writer who has written over 100 books in his career and still going strong!  I look foreword to reading more from Block in the near future.

Scudder as a character is not all that original, Ex-cop who has a problem with alcohol and becomes a private detective.  Well Scudder isn’t exactly a private dick, he just does favors and gets tipped for those favors, who needs to get a licence and report income to the tax man.  He’s a hardboiled detective that has lost his family and has seen and done things that have scared him for life.  Though the profile of Scudder isn’t an original idea, he is well crafted and I love him.

This first story is about a young lady that was brutally murdered, and her male roommate is found outside the building covered in her blood, half-dressed and screaming obscenities.  The male roommate is later found in his cell, dead from hanging himself.  It’s an open and shut case as far as the police are concerned.

The parents of our dead young lady have lost track of their daughter and didn’t even know she was living in New York for sure. With over 3 years of no communication with their daughter, they want to know what she was doing in that time period and turn to Scudder for help.

This book shows Scudder as a fairly religious man, and lent itself nicely to this story. I hope this aspect is continued throughout this series.

Scudder isn’t investigation a murder mystery here, he is looking into this girls history and takes us along for the ride.  We have some dark stuff here, it is a very gritty and twisted adventure that you will enjoy.