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The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder #1) by Lawrence Block

Review

Dead son and a dead daughter.
Father and son, Father and daughter all have a dark past and all weigh up in the play of good and evil.
Suicide is tragic and a last call out of turmoil and distress, it’s a sin even Scudder knows that otherwise he himself confesses to contemplating taking that road. Scudder ex-cop turned Private Investigator was on the force for almost sixteen years divorced with kids, he works as infrequently as he can for now and in no need for money, he has a cheap room and lives on modest day to day expenses.
Scudder takes on a case and is investigating the death of a girl and the suicide of her caught killer. He needs to question prostitutes, a priest and a step-father.
With all this talk and investigation on father and child relationships by the time the case is closed he finds himself wanting to rekindle his relationship with his boys. You find a real connection in this story with Matthew Scudder and find he’s a real character of today that’s dealing with a real world of good and evil. You will want to be there with him in the future novels after reading this one, battling through the rough and enjoying the smooth.

Lawrence Block writes with a crisp narrative no words wasted takes you straight to the case on the opening pages and really writes the plot to the point. The story is thoroughly engaging and so spot on it reminds me a bit of James M Cain’s writing. This story flows well and will find you are on the final pages in no time at all. This was a re-read for me a masterful start of a great Matthew Scudder series.
He quotes in the novel
“ I said, “ I lost the faith.”
“Like a priest?”
“Something like that. Not exactly, because it’s not rare for a cop to lose the faith and go on being a cop. He may never have had it in the first place. What it amounted to was that I found out I didn’t want to be a cop anymore.” Or a husband, or a father. Or a productive member of society.
The reason for his quitting as a cop was due to an incident where he was off-duty one night and found himself stopping an armed robbery. One of his gunshots went wide and ricocheted and hit a seven-year old girl in the eye she died instantly. The death of that girl Estrellita Rivera changed his life forever and the cause of one too many sleepless nights and probably the need for his Bourbon drinking.

In Stephen King’s introduction of this novel he writes at length his love of Block’s novels here mention one quote.
“Accessibility is only one of Lawrence Block’s virtues as a writer, but it is surely his greatest gift. His novels-better than two dozen of them at this writing-combine clarity, simplicity, honesty, and vividness to create nearly seamless entertainments.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 21 September 2011

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