THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD by Lawrence Block

THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mysteries of the heart eclipse those of the street in Matt Scudder's quietly compelling new case, which finds the p.i. avoiding the wrenching physical violence of his last few outings (A Walk Among the Tombstones, etc.) but falling prey to all sorts of emotional havoc. The crime on which Block hangs Scudder's latest study in angst is the apparent shooting death of attorney Glenn Holtzmann by deranged homeless vet George Sadecki. Despite strong evidence of Sadecki's guilt, the accused's brother hires Scudder to look into the case--which the unlicensed p.i. does, discovering that Holtzmann, far from being a clean-cut yuppie, was actually a professional rat for various federal agencies and may have been slain by one of his targets. Scudder's gumshoeing is dogged but not very exciting--lots of phone calls and interviews--and serves mostly to put him in contact with old series regulars and one likely new one, a sympathetic transvestite, as well as with Holtzmann's widow, with whom he starts an affair despite his commitment to longtime girlfriend Elaine: The widow proves as addictive as booze and in fact may drive Scudder back to drink, especially if he keeps indulging in moody midnight gabfests with Irish gangster Mick Ballou and brooding over a WW I poem about breaking faith with those who've died. Meanwhile, in an equally introspective subplot, Scudder's old flame Jan Keane is dying of cancer and asks Scudder to get her a suicide-gun, which he does. Will she choose life, however painful, instead of the bullet's oblivion? Will Scudder resist the bottle and widow and do the same? The murder finally resolves through a quirk of fate: Can Scudder command his own fate? Those who can take or leave Scudder will probably leave this gathering of shadows: loyalists, though, will hang on every word as Scudder makes his fascinatingly uncertain way through an increasingly uncertain world.
Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 038072023X
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993




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