Who is ready to weigh in on “How many books in a series is too much?”
Though Lawrence Block is on his 14th book about investigator Matthew Scudder, he has yet to reach the “too much” point. Despite being book 14, Everybody Dies still manages to surprise.
Mick Ballou has been backed into a corner. He suspects he’s the target of a personal attack, but needless to say, he can’t seek protection from the police. He requests Matt’s help, and drives him out to Jersey to examine the death scene of two of Mick’s employees. There’s also a missing truckload of whiskey, worth ten grand or so, so it’s possible that may be a motive. Scudder aids in clean-up but is reluctant to take the case further, and only agrees to verify it isn’t a crime of opportunity. Unfortunately, even the quietest of inquiries from him and T.J. stirs up a host of trouble. Matt is walking up Fifty-third street, headed to report to Mick, when he gets jumped. Instinct kicks in and he fights back, getting away but potentially angering his unknown opponent.
Perhaps the least enjoyable section was Matt ruminating over whether or not he should become involved in Ballou’s battles. After years of friendship with Mick and blatant vigilante justice, it’s hardly an ethical issue at this point. Unfortunately, no matter what Matt decides, he’s going to be dragged into the fray. From there, it quickly takes a number of unexpected turns. Although one small part of the mystery was predictable, the ending was shocking. My reaction on finishing was a stunned, “oh wow.” I may have even wandered around the house for awhile, repeating, “oh wow.”
Though it feels more violent than other Scudder books, it’s actually less bloodthirsty. The violence is tempered with emotional loss, and will herald a number of significant changes in Matt’s life. The attention to Matt’s emotional life is one of the things that sets the Scudder series apart–the idea that there are ramifications, both political and emotional.
A compelling series that shows no signs of burning out.