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The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder) Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Block has been getting better and better in recent Matt Scudder novels, but as this first hardcover version of a 16-year-old paperback shows, he was pretty good from the start. King's admiring introduction is generous but by no means overstated. This tale, which introduced the then-hard-drinking ex-cop, is spare and lean and full of dark insights into lonesomeness and anguish. The father of murdered Wendy Hanniford comes to Scudder to try to find out more about his errant daughter--not to find her killer, who was apparently her living partner, a brittle young man who was found in the street raving and covered with her blood and who killed himself shortly after he was arrested. In his dour, methodical, oddly empathetic way, Scudder finds out a great deal, altering several lives in the process. As always in the Scudder books, New York City--its small-hours bars, its jokey, edgy encounters--is a major character; as in the later books, too, Block's style is admirable: free of gimmicks, plain but utterly telling in every line. This is a fine opportunity to get in on the start of what has become one of the most rewarding PI series currently in progress.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
The 1976 paperback that introduced Block's melancholy, alcoholic shamus Matt Scudder finally gets a well-deserved hardcover edition--as well as a charming fan letter of an introduction from Stephen King. King pinpoints why the nine-book Scudder series (A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, 1991, etc.) is among mystery's most popular and finest: ``The absence of cats,'' i.e., ``tricks.'' As King says, Scudder is a ``pure'' detective who ``is real because his milieu is real.'' The fascinating ordinariness of Scudder and the harsh realness of his New York City arrive full force here as the p.i. is hired by a distraught father to look into the recent stabbing murder of his estranged daughter. Not to solve it, because the apparent killer, the girl's gay male roommate, has already been arrested--and punished: he's hung himself in his jail cell; but to find out more about the girl and why anyone would want to kill her. Scudder accepts the job reluctantly, as is his dour way, and during the course of his brief digging exhibits the sort of brave yet flawed behavior that sets him apart from other literary p.i.s: doggedly following the victim's trail down unexpected alleys as he learns that she was a moderately happy hooker who in fact was loved like a sister by her alleged killer; as he tithes 10% of his earnings to random churches; casts a cynical yet kindly eye on his fellow citizens; seeks release from the evil he finds in some through booze, the hired love of call-girl Elaine, and stunning bursts of violence, particularly against a mugger whose fingers he carefully snaps one by one. And, of course, Scudder turns up the real killer. Not as richly textured as most of the later cases, but, still, as haunting and mournful as the baying of a hound at the moon--and a must for Block/Scudder fans. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
I'm not a fast reader but I managed to read this in one day, I really, really enjoyed it! Its fast paced and a very entertaining read, I thought the overall story line was well thought out and I loved how well developed the characters are.
This book is about us (the reader) getting to know Matthew Scudder, I think it did a great job, I love how he thinks and I find his eternal battle over good and evil very interesting.
The book is about a murder and a suicide, but is not overly gory. While the crime scene is described its not near as bad as some of the TV shows out there. I liked that the story focuses more on Scudder and finding the truth then about getting every gory detail in.
I'm definitely going to read more of this series!
For anyone that is interested in reading the series in order, here is a list I got offline:
List of Matthew Scudder novels
The Sins of the Fathers (1976)
In the Midst of Death (1976)
Time to Murder and Create (1977)
A Stab in the Dark (1981)
Eight Million Ways to Die (1982)
When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (1986)
Out on the Cutting Edge (1989)
A Ticket to the Boneyard (1990)
A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (1991)
A Walk Among the Tombstones (1992)
The Devil Knows You're Dead (1993)
A Long Line of Dead Men (1994)
Even the Wicked (1997)
Everybody Dies (1998)
Hope to Die (2001)
All the Flowers Are Dying (2005)
A Drop of the Hard Stuff (2011)
The Night and the Music (2011) (short story anthology)
All of this was interesting enough to push it along, i wanted to keep reading, wanted to know what happens. however, Scudder never really faces any opposition, internal or otherwise. He gets his answers with minimal haggling. Most are pretty compliant after a raised tone of voice. We're told he's an alcoholic, but never really shown it. Yea, he drinks, but it never interferes with his life. Drinking alot is not enough to be called an alcoholic.
So its a breeze, the biggest challenge is putting all of the estranged information together into a cohesive package. There are 17 books in this series at the time i write this. i don't know if i'll read all of them. The quality of this book doesn't compel me to, but i like the character enough to try another couple of books. Perhaps i'll research what the best ones are and read those. Fortunately this was a quick read.
We are introduced to Matthew Scudder. He is not someone you’d look up to, maybe not even someone you’d like, but he lives within his own code of ethics which is something you can relate to. The fact that he is a broken shell of a man makes you appreciate that he is no longer a Detective… but to quote Liam Neeson (from Taken), he has “a certain set of skills” that are incredibly useful.
The novel starts with the vicious murder of a prostitute, but her killer has already been caught. He confessed and then he hung himself. So no mystery to solve, right? Except that Matthew Scudder has been requested to find out more about the murdered prostitute. What makes this prostitute different is that she comes from wealth and her step-father wants to know who she was as an individual, since the family had lost touch with their prodigal daughter. Seems simple enough, right? Except this is Matthew Scudder and he doesn’t do simple.
You see, you can’t hire him. You can give him a gift and he can do you a favor, but he cannot be paid or hired. Within the first few pages of the novel we see that Matthew Scudder is an unscrupulous man who doesn’t think twice about committing tax evasion or breaking any number of laws… and yet it was once his responsibility to uphold the law. He’s a little greasy. He is on the dark side of icky police politics, however Matthew Scudder uses his knowledge of circumventing the law for the side of what he believes is moral.
Since you can’t hire him, he isn’t working for you. He decides how much of a favor he actually owes you - which means that he doesn’t stop once he gets his questions answered. He stops when he’s ready, and he wasn’t ready in Sins of the Father until he had obtained his brand of justice (which is of course stands outside of the law).
I loved this novel. It was incredibly refreshing. Although it is almost forty years old, nothing in Mr. Block’s writing dates it (except for Matthew Scudder having to use a pay phone to contact someone, or everyone having land lines in their homes). I liked Matthew Scudder. He isn’t someone I’d like to meet, but if I ever needed the kind of help that local authorities wouldn’t be able to provide I’d ask for one of those favors.
Definitely, read this novel. You’ll see parts of this book briefly highlighted in the movie “A Walk Among The Tombstones” (which is book 10 of the Matthew Scudder series). It’s a shame that you have to read a book that is 40 years old to find something refreshing and feels new, but that’s what you’ll get with Sins of the Father. I got so drawn into Matthew Scudder’s world that all that mattered was the ride I was on. I didn’t care when it was written. All I cared about was revealing the mystery not just of the dead prostitute, but also of who Matthew Scudder is as a man.
My favorite quotes from Sins of the Father:
“Nowadays we speak of neuroses, of psychological complications, of compulsion. Previously we spoke of witchcraft, of demonic possession. I wonder sometimes if we’re as enlightened now as we prefer to think of, or if our enlightenment does us much good.”
“It is not necessary to know what a person is afraid of. It is enough to know the person is afraid.”
“Earlier you made her sound like a victim. Now she sounds like a villain.” “Everybody’s both.”