Last week I sat down to watch the movie A Walk Among The Tombstones with my wife and my dad. My wife didn’t manage to stay long – the level of violence that is suggested is high and so her early departure didn’t surprise me. My dad fell asleep for a while, but that’s got nothing to do with the quality of the film. I managed to stay for the duration and enjoyed my time with Liam Neeson et al. Overall, I’d say that it’s a pretty solid film. Neeson does a great job as Scudder and if you like action and detectives, this should work for you. Above all, I was reminded of how good a book Tombstones is. The Scudder series is really excellent and it wasn’t really a surprise to me that the film didn’t quite do the plotline justice.
During my holiday, I read a Scudder that was new to me called The Night And The Music (US). This one, a little like the film above, is something of a tangent from the main body of novels. It’s a collection of stories about the detective where he retells incidents from his past. They’re told in a fairly gentle style, as if been told over a drink in a bar somewhere after hours. It’s almost conversational and that works very well in terms of grabbing the attention. What you don’t really get is the meaty plot or the tension of a novel. In place of that, however, is a collection of rather playful and almost old-fashioned mysteries.
My own favourite was entitled The Merciful Angel Of Death. Scudder is hired by a nursing home to investigate a mystery visitor who has a knack of being the final companion of many of the dying. What I think this piece illustrates, apart from the high level of writing, is the general dexterity of Lawrence Block’s mind. He finds interesting plotlines in the strangest places. Other pieces involve the collection of counterfeit clothing from around the vendors of New York, a suicide and the murder of an old and very generous bag-lady.
For fans of Scudder, this is a really nice accompanying piece to have. It may not carry quite the weight of the novels, but it adds another dimension to the man. To those who haven’t been there yet, try these on for size. I reckon you’ll really enjoy them and if you do, I’d suggest diving right in with The Sins Of The Fathers (US) (you’ll thank me later, you really will).