Block, Lawrence. Out on the Cutting Edge.

NY: Morrow, 1989.

Matt Scudder, ex-cop, ex-husband and father, unofficial private detective, and now a recovering alcoholic for several years (you’re never really “ex-”), takes on a commission for an Indiana auto dealer trying to discover what’s become of his daughter. She came to New York to break into the acting world, and then disappeared.

And shortly after starting his investigation — which doesn’t really go much of anywhere for some time, even though he’s putting in the hours — he’s approached by a guy from one of his many AA meetings who wants Matt to help him with the 5th Step: Confessing your sins. Matt agrees; it’s what recovering drinkers in the program do for each other, when they can. (Alcoholism and its effects is almost a character in this series in itself.) But then the guy turns up dead in his apartment, apparently of autoerotic asphyxiation. Matt, for whatever reason, doesn’t really buy it and (as he is wont to do) he begins poking around. And then he becomes physically involved with the woman who manages the building where the man died, which is not going to take him where he hopes it will. Scudder lives in a rather gray world and that’s certainly evident here. It’s not a depressing story, exactly, but it’s not what you could call an exciting read, however engrossing it may be. And the resolution of the first case definitely will give you the willies. This is also the book in which Scudder first makes the acquaintance of Mick Ballou, the “Butcher Boy,” a literally bloody-handed member of the Irish underworld, with whom he bonds in an unlikely (but generally convincing) fashion. Not the best of the series but far from being the worst.

Published in: on 7 June 2012 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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