Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Drop of the Hard Stuff - Book Review

Why, lookee here, I finally got a book read. Actually, I've read more than one book since my last book-related post - I just haven't said anything about them. Looks like I've got some catching up to do. Not that I've read that many but still.

Anyway, just finished Lawrence Block's latest Matthew Scudder novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff. It looks like I haven't posted anything about Block though I know I've read within recent memory the last installment in his Keller series. He hasn't written a Scudder novel in quite some time so it's good to get back to the character. And, ingeniously, Block manages to take us back to a time where Scudder was really setting himself apart from the other private investigator characters of other mystery series: 30 years ago, when Scudder was first struggling with his sobriety. The mystery at the core of the novel is less important than Scudder's personal struggle and it's a delight to visit New York City back in those days. Bracketed by scenes in current time, it's a nice contrast to the way things used to be. Better? Not at all. But interesting nonetheless.

Honestly, I'd grown a little weary with the evolution of the Scudder character in recent books; domesticity doesn't really suit him. This is a nice way to re-visit him without having to go back to the old novels. Block's writing is effortless, as always, and while there's no real surprises to be had - and I wasn't as pleased as I'd like to be with the plot's resolution - Block remains a pro and he brings everything, and everyone, in for a safe landing.

Hard Stuff is good stuff.