When the Sacred Ginmill Closes

When the Sacred Ginmill Closes - Lawrence Block This is the latest installment in my journey into Lawrence Block's stunning Matthew Scudder crime series. This one comes on the heels of the showstopping Eight Million Ways to Die, and I was wondering if it was possible for this book to be as good. I was pleased to see that it comes pretty damn close! Block keeps it fresh by showing us a different side of Scudder, flashing back to events from Matt's past that occurred even before the first novel. Here, Matt tells the story of when he and his hard-drinking saloon homies got in and out of trouble during a hot, eventful New York summer in '75.

This book felt totally different from the previous Scudder novels. Matt seems less of a loner here and more connected with his buddies. I felt like he was a lot less interested in his cases, more aloof, which is understandable as I was reading about a slightly younger Scudder than I was used to. Even the writing itself fits into this tone. This one is very nostalgic as well; it's a love letter to a throwback New York City that doesn't exist anymore, and to a simpler, more innocent time for Matt (who at this point hasn't even begun to consider himself an alcoholic). This book also has a first-rate, bittersweet ending where, like most of the great crime novels, the mystery is solved not in the way you expected or even wanted, but in a way that is undeniably satisfying. This ending took my expected four star rating and turned it into a solid five.