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Block, Lawrence

scudder city novels series

(US, 1938– )

Lawrence Block is a prolific writer, creator of three very different crime series: the Matt Scudder novels whose hero is an ex-cop and struggling alcoholic stalking the mean streets of New York; the ‘Burglar’ Bernie Rhodenbarr books, witty with a much lighter touch, and the Evan Tanner series (the man who never sleeps). Eight Million Ways to Die (1983) shows us Scudder haunted by the crazy violence of the city and confronted by his own capacity for brutality as he works for a pimp to try and establish who is killing his prostitutes. The characters are credible and complex, the city brilliantly evoked as is the relentless pull of addiction. Over the novels, Scudder's battle to stay sober develops as do his relationships with women, especially Elaine, a call-girl who eventually becomes his lover. The tensions of that relationship are depicted well in The Devil Knows You're Dead (1994).

James Lee Burke, Walter Mosley  CS

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