HOPE TO DIE by Lawrence Block

Number fifteen of the Matthew Scudder series.  I hated it.  Well, perhaps that was a little strong.  I didn’t care very much for it.  And here’s why.

First of all, the first person down-to-earth style narrative of Scudder was interspersed with third person viewpoint of the serial killer.  OK, and that is the ‘second of all’ thing — serial killer.  Kind of like when all else fails, haul out a serial killer perp.  Anyway, back to my ‘first of all’.   I don’t really like knowing who is the perpetrator.  I especially don’t like long drawn out passages giving us his stream of conscious thoughts.  I prefer to know only what the investigator of the murder knows.

Third of all, …  but wait.  Before I give you a third of all, I should give you some plot.  A prosperous couple is murdered and tortured in a home invasion robbery.  The two perps were shortly thereafter found  dead in an apartment in another neighborhood, a murder/suicide.  Case closed.

But Scudder, being Scudder, can’t quite believe it is all that simple because of several factors.  So he …. and here is the third of all …. he posits a third person involved,  in a completely implausible out of the blue scenario that really felt like the author realized he wrote the P.I. into an impossible corner and the only way to get him out was to come up with the mystery writer’s equivalent of “And then magic happened.”

On the personal front, his ex wife dies, he attends the funeral and sees his two sons from whom he is if not exactly estranged, at least extremely distant from.  One son is doing OK, and the other is an alkie and a ne’er-do-well, who later hits him up for money.




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