This is the second in the Matthew Scudder series. I got into this series after having read Eight Million Ways to Die, and decided a mid-century noir-ish detective series was just the ticket for those cozy times when I read in bed before turning off the light and counting zzzzs.
The official plot description: Small-time stoolie, Jake “The Spinner” Jablon, made a lot of new enemies when he switched careers, from informer to blackmailer. And the more “clients, ” he figured, the more money – and more people eager to see him dead. So no one is surprised when the pigeon is found floating in the East River with his skull bashed in. And what’s worse, no one cares – except Matthew Scudder. The ex-cop-turned-private-eye is no conscientious avenging angel. But he’s willing to risk his own life and limb to confront Spinner’s most murderously aggressive marks. A job’s a job after all – and Scudder’s been paid to find a killer – by the victim…in advance.
OK, so Scudder starts his investigation by acting as if he had inherited the business, the blackmailing list of Spinner, and he goes to each of the victims in this pose, seeing what he can find out, who might have been tired enough of the game to want to take out Spinner and save him or herself some heartache, not to mention a lifetime worth of payment money. Not a bad investigatory angle, and gives us insight into the blackmailees.
As we learned in Sins of the Father, his first in the series, Scudder’s alcoholism is going to be one of the central pillars of the stories. So we get a tangle of detecting and alcoholism and denial of said alcoholism and little spurts of detecting genius and some interesting characters all mixed up into a colorful ball of a storyline.
So, maybe not as good as Eight Million Ways to Die, but definitely still pretty good.