Out On The Cutting Edge

Out On The Cutting Edge - Lawrence Block It's been a little over three years since the events in the stellar Eight Million Ways To Die, and Matt has successfully been able to stay sober and regularly participate in AA meetings. A man hires him to track down his missing actress daughter and we're off to the races with my next Matthew Scudder read!

The actual mystery storyline of the missing actress is one of the least interesting of all the Scudder books so far, but witnessing Matthew's struggle to maintain sobriety in Manhattan and his experiences in AA is what makes the book really enjoyable. The mystery is second priority. And as usual with the series, the supporting characters in this one are great, from the repentant Eddie (Matt's AA friend) to the enigmatic and dangerous Mick Ballou. A popular staple in hard-boiled detective fiction is for the protagonist to be a hardcore drinker, like it makes them harder or grittier or something. The Scudder series stands out to me because it really shows the negative effects of such drinking in a tender, honest, and heartfelt way. But author Lawrence Block never allows Matt to have a sentimental, self-pitying attitude about the whole thing. He just takes it one day at a time.
"I wanted a drink. There were a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all. I didn't want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn't bear it without it.

But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It'll hurt, it'll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going."