Book review – "Hope to Die" |

Book review – "Hope to Die"

Hope to Die

Lawrence Block

Harper Collins, 2002

Lawrence Block aficionados will welcome back private eye Matthew Scudder after a three-year absence.

Unlicensed by choice in a somewhat whimsical anti-establishment mode, Matt, 62, has slowed down somewhat, but is as sharp as ever in finding the clues to a mystery not many believe in.

The neat thing is, Block delineates the clues so clearly that the reader can solve the mystery right along with him.

“Hope to Die” begins with Bryne and Susan Hollister attending a benefit at Lincoln Center, within walking distance of their multi-million dollar Manhattan brownstone. The Hollisters’ good life is ended when they arrive home and are murdered by burglars.

A few days later police track down the culprits, both dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Case ended? No way. Matt is hired by a cousin of the couple, who believes a third man is involved. After a few days of investigating, so does he.

The magic of Block’s Scudder books is not just the plot, but also the philosophy and psychology of its protagonist.

A reformed alcoholic and AA devotee, he has a wife who is a former hooker, a best friend who is a mobster, and an African-American teenager as his assistant. This menage radiates honesty, ethics and a “do unto others” attitude that is refreshing and nonpolitical.

Block has won many awards, including the Edgar, Shamus and Maltese Falcon. This paperback is available at bookstores and supermarkets.

– Joan Agar

Nevada City

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