Cover Image: The Night and the Music

The Night and the Music

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Member Reviews

Back in the day, I read all of Lawrence Block’s Bernie the Burglar novels and a few of his Matt Scudder novels. Block is a giant in the crime fiction genre. He’s a prolific writer who has won earn countless awards and raves. Block introduced Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic ex-cop turned unlicensed private investigator, in the mid1970s. Scudder has been around for awhile and has seen some things. The stories in this collection were published in various magazines and anthologies at over time. One of the stories was written especially for this edition. The stories are a mish-mash and cover various stages of Scudder’s life and career. In some he’s drinking a lot after his life imploded after accidental killing a child while trying to stop a robbery in progress. In other stories, Scudder is remarried and is a recovering alcoholic. The stories are wide ranging. The anthology opens with Scudder investigating the apparent suicide of a waitress who worked at his favorite bar. In another, his curiosity gets the better of him when he finds out a murdered neighborhood bag lady bequeathed him a nice chunk of money in her will. A few stories are from when he was still with the police department. He has his own idea of justice that doesn’t always follow the law. You don’t have to be familiar with any of the Scudder novels to enjoy this collection. Block knows how to craft an intriguing story whether it’s a novel or short story.
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Alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder is that rarest of fictional characters who ages in something approximating real time. Since making his debut back in 1976, in the novel  The Sins of the Fathers, Scudder has gone through a lot of changes in both his personal and professional life. No longer an unlicensed investigator who "does favors" for people in return for cash "gifts", he is now licensed, respectable, married and somewhere near 80-years old. 

This anthology collection of novelettes, short-stories, vignettes, and essays published at various times captures the essence of the man and the changes he's gone through over the last forty-five years. They take us from when Scudder was still learning the ropes as a patrolman in uniform, a married police detective with a hooker girlfriend, an ex-cop who walked away from his wife and kids, an alcoholic struggling mightily not to drink, and on through to one last night spent in a notorious local ginmill with the equally notorious career criminal who somewhere along the line became one of his best friends. Every Scudder short ever published in one anthology collection. This is the good stuff!

The collection was previously published as an ebook and paperback edition ten years ago (in 2011). At that time many of these stories had only had limited publication and least one of them, 'One Last Night at Grogan's', was written specifically for the collection. This new edition will be published in both limited and trade hardcover editions featuring a beautiful dustjacket illustration and frontispiece by John K. Snyder III, the artist who previously adapted Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder #5) into an amazing graphic novel (highly recommend it!). 

A new afterward titled, appropriately enough, 'Beyond the Afterward' appears for the first time in this latest edition. It is a beautiful, heartfelt message from author Lawrence Block explaining why he considered but ultimately chose not to include a new Scudder story for this book. If you're a long time fan, like I am, that entry alone is worth the price of admission. 

***I received a free digital review copy of this title from NetGalley and Subterranean Press for which I thank them profusely (even though I had already preordered a copy of the limited hardcover edition the moment I heard about it).
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If you're as dedicated a fan of Lawrence Block as this reader is, you can never get enough of his series protagonists, from Keller the assassin to Bernie the Burglar , and this collection of stories featuring my favorite Block leading man, Matt Scudder, will tickle your fancy . Three stories cover various periods in Matt's life, from his years on the police force when he was a semi alcoholic father and husband to his midlife adventures in Manhattan living in an SRO in midtown Manhattan and working as an unlicensed but very effective  PI. In a few later stories , the autumnal feeling that permeates the action adds an elegaic  overlay to his late life friendships with familiar characters like Mick Ballot, once an adversary and now a friend, and Arlene, the working girl he married in one of his last adventures .
Most of these gems have been published in various magazines and collections over the years, but there's one commissioned just for this volume, and all are worth a second read - or a first one if you haven't read them before
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The Night and The Music by Lawrence Block- A book-load of Matt Scudder novellas, novelettes, and short stories is a welcome addition to the many memorable novels in this series. We see Scudder weaving his way through various phases of his life(to drink or not to drink), and finding his own brand of justice. There's turmoil, heartache, and laughs, with Matt always stoic in his appreciation for right and wrong. This book has been out for a while but I'm reviewing this edition by Subterranean Press, who are sure to present a beautifully rendered copy. If you're a Scudder fan, it's a lock!
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