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When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder Series) Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The prolific, Edgar Awardwinning Block has written many mysteries, most in assorted series with colorful protagonists. Featured here is Matt Scudder in his follow-up appearance to Eight Million Ways to Die. Scudder is a former New York cop, now an unlicensed private detective who does favors for friends. Divorced from his wife, who lives with their sons on Long Island, Scudder rooms in a West Side hotel. His real home, however, is any one of three or four local bars, and his family are their owners, staff and habitues. In the summer of 1975, Matt is busy with assorted favors. Tommie Tillary, an investment salesman in flashy clothes, whose wife has been murdered in Bay Ridge, needs to be cleared of suspicion. The real booksas opposed to those shown to the IRSstolen from Skip Devoe's bar must be ransomed, and the masked gunmen who robbed the Morrisey brothers' after-hours place have to be identified. Drinking steadily all summer, Scudder accomplishes all of the above, his intuition, doggedness and respect for a higher law sputtering through the alcoholic haze. Block is an accomplished storyteller, and Matt Scudder is a fine example of hero as human being. Mystery Guild selection.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Chilling"--" Washington Post""Ambitious and intense...A compelling and memorable novel."--" San Francisco Chronicle"
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Product Details

  • Series: Matthew Scudder Series (Book 6)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380728257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380728251
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAME on August 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Lawrence Block's tales of Matthew Scudder relatively recently, but I believe I have made up for lost time. There is something about this tough guy detective that adds a level to these stories that similar series', such as Robert Parker's, do not have. No doubt this is due to Scudder's recovery from alcoholism. AA meetings and wisdom permeate the series, sometimes as a major theme and sometimes as background music. It never interferes with the story itself but it adds much to Scudder's character and makes the tales more accessible.
"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" was written in 1986. Scudder narrates from the viewpoint of that year, but the story actually takes place 10 years earlier, when Scudder was still drinking heavily. It is very much a bar story; most of the action takes place in and around these establishments in New York City and its environs. There are many Irish in the story, as players, bartenders and owners, so there is always just a dash of an accent in the air. When the wife of one friend is murdered, and the illegal accounting records of another are stolen, Matthew Scudder is drawn in as 'a friend who does favors for money.' Scudder, an ex-cop who left the force when a ricocheting bullet accidentally killed a child, survives by being a not quite private eye in the moments between drinks.
This is a tough story, about hard-bitten people. While drinking hasn't destroyed the lives of any of Scudder's friends yet, it has hollowed many of them out. Beneath the smiling exteriors lie anger and greed and sorrow. As Matthew digs and considers in his search for answers, he uncovers much of the masquerade. This is a story about betrayals, some subtle and some not.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A grim and disturbing novel about crime, alcoholism and betrayal, this should have been gloomy and depressing, but, like his previous novels, Block is able to leave you completely satisfied. The seediness of NYC becomes the backdrop for the flawed hero that you have to love.
This was the third Scudder mystery I have read, and they have all been excellent. There are several fast moving plot lines that are expertly intertwined; there is quality writing; and the dialogue is sharp and accurate. But, like any great work of fiction, the novel goes much deeper. An unforgettable novel, I highly recommend it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am writing this because I was looking to see what others were saying about my favorite mystery/crime character. The latest few reviews were pretty hard on Block and I just want to put a few things straight.

First of all, Block is a very hit or miss author. He has written dozens of books and maybe only 25% of them are Scudder novels. He has written just as many 'Burglar' books that are more akin to Agatha Christy than Dashiel Hammett, and I am not their biggest fan. Besides that, Block has written countless short stories and started a few other series' that are in comparison to Scudder, uninspired.

What Block has done here is not write just one book and then continue to revise the same plot over and over as so many mystery writers do. Instead, as a reader you should start at the beginning of this series 'Sins of our Fathers' where you will find a Matthew Scudder, moderately in control of his alcoholism. This is not the best Block, but it is pretty important to follow the development of this amazing character from one book to the next.

By the time you come to 'Ginmill,' '8 Million Ways to Die,' or others further along in the series, you will have found yourself keenly aware of the small developments of Matthew Scudder as a character. 'Ginmill' is a key Scudder novel in that it marks a transitional point that opens up new horizons in coming books and acts as a bridge in many ways. If you have not read the preceding books, and don't wait to judge 'Ginmill' until reading a few more, this will not be apparent.

Secondly, 'Ginmill,' like all of the Scudder novels, is not earth shattering.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Block runs his alcoholic detective Matt Scudder through the bar scene of the 70"s in Manhattan. The problems he is presented with all revolve around denizens of his alcoholic world. The amazing thing for this series is that Block does not have Scudder agonizing over his drinking. Of course, he is surrounded by others who drink the way he does which serves to conceal his drinking. Block inserted this title into the series outside of the chronological order giving him a chance to close on an up-beat note. Readers looking for a straight crime novel will not find it here. Readers interested in a gritty potrayal of the low end of life in Manhattan will be mesmerized.
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I first read the Lawrence Block novel A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES prior to seeing the movie. Movies made from well written novels tend to be letdowns. While the movie did have its bright spots, it has to be extremely difficult to condense such an intriguing story into a 114 minute motion picture.

This particular episode in the Matthew Scudder series takes place in New York City in 1975. Matt Scudder is a former Special Forces hero, an ex NYC cop, and a current and committed drinker who does favors for friends in exchange for money. Even though he and his friends spend most days and nights drinking heavily, none of them considers themselves to be alcoholics. All of them profess to be able to stop drinking at the drop of a hat, but somehow that never seems to happen. They just sort of stumble around together in sort of a "groundhog day", chasing their next drink and not much else.

Unfortunately (and surprisingly) a few of his friends get themselves into difficult situations, and Matt finds himself collecting three different paychecks while looking for answers. He is the type of (unlicensed) private eye who walks in circles and gathers countless bits of information until he hits that "Eureka" moment where everything falls together. Sometimes the smallest piece of information.....

Matt has his hands full with these cases and not everyone is who they seem to be. The problem is figuring out who is responsible for each crime and then extracting retribution without involving the local coppers. Not surprisingly, the Irish have their own way of balancing the scales. Innovative, tricky and effective.
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