What I'm reading now: 13 February 07

A ticket to the boneyard: I've read all the Matt Scudder series by Lawrence Block ages ago. (The most recent one was published in 2011, but the series more or less ended in 2005 with All the Flowers are Dying; 2011's A drop of the hard stuff is a flashback novel.) However, I've been spending too much time staring at a screen, and a copy of A ticket to the boneyard was sitting right there on my coffee table, so I reread it. I'm glad I did. Matt Scudder is an alcoholic in recovery, an ex-cop, and an unlicensed investigator. A call from "Cousin Frances" alerts him that an old enemy is back, and both Matt and "his women" are in danger. There are no women in his life, though, not really, so because of his enemy's twisted reasoning, no woman who crosses Matt's path is safe. As he tries to keep himself and everyone else out of harm's way, and remove his enemy from circulation, Matt struggles with the possibility that his best will not be good enough.

I found the story a little slow to get into, and certainly rather dark, but there's action, struggle, and suspense, and both the story's development and denoument are believable. If you like gritty noir and you haven't read any of the Scudder books, you're in for a treat. On the other hand, if you want a lighter touch, avoid Block's Scudder series and go straight to the comedic Burglar series instead.

(In unrelated news, the house concert was quite a bit of fun, and the general noise level was such that we could be heard, but our missed notes overlooked. Also, our hostess and third member of the trio built and played a Carronet: she took a power drill to a carrot to create a center bore and finger holes, attached a clarinet mouthpiece to it, and used it to play a basic blues number. Highly entertaining, and mostly in tune as well.)