Another Matt Scudder crime novel, starring the ex-alkie, ex-cop, ex-husband, ex-father, not-quite-a-private detective, Matt Scudder who lives in a hotel in Manhattan back in the days when you could actually possibly afford a residential hotel room in a seedy, somewhat rundown hotel.  Late 80s, early 90s.   I say ex-alkie, because he has been sober as a judge for a couple of books now, and the ‘relationship’ with the Happy Hooker sort-of girlfriend is getting more serious.

This volume’s crime is kidnapping and chopping.  A drug trafficker, (“there’s a difference between a trafficker and a dealer.  A trafficker only arranges the importation of the large shipments of drugs and the sale of said shipment to intermediaries.” ) whose brother participates in AA meetings, contacts Scudder because his wife was kidnapped by a couple of guys in a panel truck.  After receiving the ransom demands, and following instructions, the wife is returned to him … chopped up, the parts  individually wrapped, like you get when you have a freezer plan.  He doesn’t want to go to the police because of his  ahem  profession, so he takes the body to his brother’s place of business, a veterinarians,  which has a cremation oven, and cremates the wife.   By the time Scudder gets involved, a week has already passed.

We meet TJ again, the kid from Times Square, (the Deuce),  who pesters Matt for more work, and we readers are happy to see that he gets involved, first with introducing Scudder to the Kongs, a hacker extraordinaire duo who are really the ones who make the first crack in the case.  TJ proves himself useful further on in the investigation, and of course, the ever-helpful cop friends of Scudder are still available to help move things along.

This gig with the wife of the trafficker turns out not to have been the kidnappers’ first rodeo, and they pick on another trafficker, and snatch his 14 year old daughter, but Scudder is called in immediately and gets to work.  Having involved himself in the telephone negotiations for the ransom, he arranges to make the exchange in a cemetery, hence the title for the book.

Love this series.  It’s great writing, really entertaining.  Want some quotes?

TJ, on finding his way around Brooklyn on an errand for Matt:

“Ol’ Brooklyn, it go on for days.  “There’s a lot of it,” I agreed.  “More than you’d have a need for.”

His Irish criminal friend, The Butcher, has been in Ireland for a while, avoiding unpleasantness at home in New York.  He tells Matt over the phone:

Have you heard? They’d come up with evidence that Our Lord was Irish.  “Is that so?”  “It is,” he said.  “Consider the facts. He lived with his parents until He was twenty-nine years old.  He went out drinking with the lads the last night of His life. He thought His mother was a virgin, and herself, a good woman, she thought He was God.”

And finally,

They say time takes time.

And so it does.



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