Monday, April 6, 2015

A Relaxed Thriller

All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew Scudder, #16)All the Flowers Are Dying by Lawrence Block
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Block lulls you into a sense of ease. His words read like a meeting of two long-time friends over a cup of coffee. They don't necessarily have a great deal to say to one another, they just enjoy each other's company. And then next thing you know someone's been shot/stabbed/raped and a murder is being solved.

That happens through out All the Flowers are Dying. There's an ebb and flow of action from start to finish that sometimes switches between the two like flicking on and off the lights. It's a good pace. Just before you have the chance to get too bored with a slow scene, Block's there at the switch to wake you up.

Some of his writing is quite vivid and gorily graphic. At other times he shows Hitchcockian restraint with a crafty subtly that reminded me of Patrick O'Brian's work. It's been a long career for Block, who began with dimestore crime novellas. What we have with this sixteenth edition in his Scudder series is a maturation of the often ham-fisted crime noir potboiler of yesteryear into a more earthy, human story. Characters are fleshed out, motives delved into more deeply.

Yes, I've intentionally avoided summarizing the book on any level. Spoilers would abound with any attempt. Just know that there are bad guys, good are bad people, good people, but topping the population are your average-joe gray people. There is crime. There is resolution. There is also a good deal of reality and graspable humanity, as well as repulsive inhumanity. It's a veritable melting pot of all that is now.

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