Another one of those writers who I’ve heard and read about but never took time to read.
Apparently Lawrence Block has been an influence to other popular writers for a number of years now; writers who I have enjoyed reading for years. Never got around to reading Block though, he could wait. Just seemed that another James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly or Robert B. Parker got in the way. My loss, my loss especially since I’ve had plenty of opportunities; he’s been writing since the 1950’s and this book, The Sins of the Fathers, was published in 1976. Been waiting for me to read it all these years, my loss.
His writing is sparse and crisp (def. marked by clarity, conciseness, and briskness) with no needless words all of which I love in writing. Why say in 20 words what can be said effectively in 10?
The protagonist is Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop and not a P.I. That’s too much paperwork to contend with so he does ‘favors’ for people who give him ‘gifts.’ Being an ex-cop he knows the ropes which comes in handy.
In some ways I feel really bad (not 'sorry' though) for this guy because he’s so haunted by past life experiences that it has severely affected his living in so many ways. Perhaps this has made him more intuitive, more observant and knowing of his fellow man. Perhaps he’s always been that way, intuitive and such. Either way, he knows people and knows them well.
The storyline itself is simply one of the best I’ve read in many, many books. A young man, Richie, who is bloodied all over, is screaming obscenities in the streets that he murdered someone. A beat cop handcuffs him and takes him to his nearby apartment only to find his roommate, Wendy, murdered and mutilated.
Richie, son of a minister, is jailed for the murder, and soon commits suicide in his cell.
The father of the murdered woman asks Scudder to delve into his daughter’s life the past three years that she has been absent from the family. Who was she?
Scudder follows the slim leads he has and over a few days of searching out and questioning people who knew her, he develops a sharp idea of the life of the deceased roommates.
The book held surprises at least every other page as the reader finds out more and more about Scudder, Wendy and Richie. Then in the last quarter of the slim book, like Chef Emeril Lagasse, Lawrence Block ‘Kicks it up a notch’ and ‘Bam!’ hits another out of the park twist.
The ending is by far one of the best, if not the best ending of any book I’ve ever read. That's saying a mouthfull, too.
If you want a great story, written by a great writer with great characters, this is a must read as soon as possible. I cannot believe I’ve read so many ‘so-so’ stories when this book was waiting somewhere for me to pick it up and read it. Don’t make the same mistake I did by putting it off for some other mediocre read. Read this now.