Book Review: Scudder Lives On The Edge

Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder)

Out on the Cutting Edge is mystery novel by Lawrence Block and features unlicensed private eye Matthew Scudder. The novel was initially published in 1989.

Scudder is a former police detective in New York who left the force with a dubious reputation. He lives in a motel room in Hell’s Kitchen and makes his living by doing favors for friends. Scudder is also a recovering alcoholic and is a regular at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Sometimes, someone may need him to help out without going through some of the more official channels. Scudder is asked to search for a young woman who left her home in Indiana for the excitement of New York City. Scudder has been running into dead ends on this one until a chance encounter gives him a new direction. He also befriends a former small-time hood from his AA meeting, however the friend’s unexpected and gruesomely salacious death cuts that short. He is also finding romance with a building super, but that woman may have secrets of her own.

So this is my second foray into the works of Lawrence Block, and I am starting to appreciate why he has been so popular among crime fiction devotees. Scudder does not follow many societal rules, but he still comes off rather noble. Scudder also meets a local crime boss which starts off a rather unlikely friendship.

This turned out to be a pretty intriguing journey. It feels a little slow at times, but I did not have much trouble overlooking that. The case itself is rather standard fare, but the backdrop of Hell’s Kitchen and the sleazy places Scudder finds himself does spark the imagination. Scudder can keep the gin joints and gloomy alleyways, but I would recommend joining him in the story.

Next up will be someone who is a little newer on the mystery scene and is very new to my collection. I will be discovering the truth about Gilly MacMillan’s The Nanny.

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