Book Review: Matthew Scudder’s Odd Choice Of Friends

Time to Murder and Create is a crime novel written by Lawrence Block and was first published in 1976. It features one of Block’s best known protagonists, Matthew Scudder.

Scudder is a former NYPD officer who left the force after an unfortunate shooting which took the life the of a young girl. He is sort of a freelance private eye who scrapes by on doing paid favors for others. He is acquainted with an informer who turned his rather sketchy interests to blackmail. Jake Jablon is also known as the Spinner due to a singular habit of spinning a quarter on a tabletop during conversations. The Spinner is a rather shady sort with something resembling a conscience, so when his body is fished out of the river with a crushed skull, Scudder feels a sense of obligation to find out how that happened. Scudder was also given an envelope that contained details of his blackmail targets.

This was a fairly short novel, but Block packs a lot in there. All of the characters end up being complicated in some ways. Block does a great job keeping a reader hooked in this one. It really felt like the quintessential detective story with the best elements of the genre.

Next up, Stephen King will unlock the secrets of The Institute.

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