Walking cliché Matt Scudder is an unorthodox ex-cop, living in the bottle and In The Midst Of Death.
Unfortunately, Lawrence Block’s alcoholic private investigator doesn’t do anything particularly unorthodox in this installment, the second of the Scudder series, published in 1976.
They say “Write what you know” – and if I was Donald E Westlake’s wife, I’d have been having kittens when The Hook came out in 2000.
That’s not to say I view all fiction as a reflection of its creator’s nefarious fantasies, but The Hook is so self-referential, the comparison is unavoidable.
Writing a whodunit is tough to get right. It needs plenty of characters, many of whom with motive to murder; it needs duplicitous clues, which might lead an investigation in separate directions; it needs red-herrings and plot twists; and it needs to drip-feed information to the reader to keep them guessing.
I don’t read many mysteries of this ilk – Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane novels being the exceptional exceptions – so when the meagre book exchanges of south-east Asia produced A Suitable Vengeance I was naturally excited.