The Sins Of The Fathers Lawrence Block Pdf

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About The Sins Of The Fathers Lawrence Block Pdf

The pretty young prostitute is dead. Her alleged murderer—a minister’s son—hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl’s father has come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures.

They tell me the Matt Scudder series starts slow, that it hits its stride with his fifth adventure, Eight Million Ways to Die. I don’t know about that—at least not yet—but one thing I can say for sure: The Sins of the Fathers is plenty good enough.

Scudder was once a cop. But then a seven year old girl is killed by a ricochet he fired in pursuit of a robber, and, even though he is exonerated—hell, they even give him a commendation—he finds he just doesn’t have the heart to be a cop anymore. Now he drinks too much and can’t shake the guilt, but he still uses his cop skills to make ends meet. While not technically a private dectective (he has no license), he “does favors for people,” and they give him “gifts.”

This particular “favor” is an unusual one. A pretty little hooker living in a nice Greenwich Village apartment has been stabbed to death, and the only suspect—her male roommate—admits his guilt and then hangs himself in the city jail. So the case is closed, and Scudder’s client—the dead girl’s father—doesn’t wanted it reoopened: he just wants to find out what his daughter’s life was like. He thought he knew who she was, yet discovers after her death that she had hid her life from him. Now he needs Scudder to uncover a few facts and details so that he may reconstruct a more realistic memory.

The book consists of three parts: 1) an investigation into the life of the dead girl, which leads to 2) the discovery of the motive for the crime, and 3) an account of Scudders plan to bring a rough kind of justice to this “open-and-shut” case. 

I’m updating this review in March, 2016, principally to change the edition. As I suggested in my original review, this is the first book in my favorite of all crime fiction series. My original copy is a reprint from 1991, which is when I first discovered the series. At the Left Coast Crime convention this week, I was browsing in the book room and discovered that one of the rare book dealers there had an excellent copy of the first edition from 1976. It’s the one pictured here, and I was thrilled to find it. The cover blurb from James M. Cain, no less, pronounces the book as “Very Superior!” I couldn’t agree more.

The Sins of the Fathers would be a solid four stars from me on any day. I’m giving it five because it’s the first book in what I’ve always believed to be the best P.I. series that anyone’s ever done, if not the best crime fiction series that anyone’s ever done. The Matthew Scudder saga now runs to seventeen books and a large number of short stories, and it’s hard to think of any other writer who has done a series consisting of this many books over this many years while maintaining this standard of excellence. And for as many times as I’ve read this book by now, and for as well as I know the story, it’s always a treat to pick it up and read it all over again.

In particular, the first chapter is excellent. In a lean, crisp thirteen pages, Block not only sets up the mystery to be resolved but provides a brilliant introduction to the character of Matthew Scudder. Although the character will continue to grow and develop over the course of the series, the first chapter essentially tells you everything you would ever need to know about the man.

Scudder is an ex-cop who left the force for very personal reasons. He now works as an unlicensed P.I. Clients don’t hire him in any traditional sense, but occasionally he does a favor for someone and they show their appreciation by giving him monetary gifts.

In this case, the someone is a businessman from upstate New York named Cale Hanniford. A few days earlier, Hanniford’s daughter, Wendy, had been savagely murdered in the apartment she shared with a young man named Richard Vanderpoel. Minutes after the killing, Vanderpoel was found covered in the victim’s blood, exposing himself and shouting obscenities in the street in front of the apartment. The police arrested him and less than forty-eight hours later, the young man hanged himself in his cell.

The police have closed the case and Hanniford accepts their obvious conclusion that Vanderpoel killed his daughter. But he wants to know why. Hanniford and Wendy had been estranged for several years and he knows nothing of her life during that period. He now knows that she was living in an expensive apartment with no visible means of support, which suggests the obvious to everyone involved. Still, no matter how sordid the details, Hanniford wants Matt to dig into Wendy’s life so that he will know how she came to such a tragic end.

Scudder accepts the job and begins investigating in his usual methodical way, turning up one thing after another, asking one question after another, and in the process learning things about both Wendy and Vanderpoel that no parent might ever want to know.

The story is spare and lean–there’s not a wasted word, and it draws you inexorably into the lives of all the characters, but especially into that of Matthew Scudder. It’s a haunting and intoxicating introduction that sets the stage for all of the great books and stories to follow. 

About The Sins Of The Fathers Author

Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess (oh, wretched excess!) of 100 books, and no end of short stories.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., LB attended Antioch College, but left before completing his studies; school authorities advised him that they felt he’d be happier elsewhere, and he thought this was remarkably perceptive of them.

His earliest work, published pseudonymously in the late 1950s, was mostly in the field of midcentury erotica, an apprenticeship he shared with Donald E. Westlake and Robert Silverberg. The first time Lawrence Block’s name appeared in print was when his short story “You Can’t Lose” was published in the February 1958 issue of Manhunt. The first book published under his own name was Mona (1961); it was reissued several times over the years, once as Sweet Slow Death. In 2005 it became the first offering from Hard Case Crime, and bore for the first time LB’s original title, Grifter’s Game.

LB is best known for his series characters, including cop-turned-private investigator Matthew Scudder, gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanner, and introspective assassin Keller.

Because one name is never enough, LB has also published under pseudonyms including Jill Emerson, John Warren Wells, Lesley Evans, and Anne Campbell Clarke.

LB’s magazine appearances include American Heritage, Redbook, Playboy, Linn’s Stamp News, Cosmopolitan, GQ, and The New York Times. His monthly instructional column ran in Writer’s Digest for 14 years, and led to a string of books for writers, including the classics Telling Lies for Fun & Profit and The Liar’s Bible. He has also written episodic television (Tilt!) and the Wong Kar-wai film, My Blueberry Nights.

Several of LB’s books have been filmed. The latest, A Walk Among the Tombstones, stars Liam Neeson as Matthew Scudder and is scheduled for release in September, 2014.

LB is a Grand Master of Mystery Writers of America, and a past president of MWA and the Private Eye Writers of America. He has won the Edgar and Shamus awards four times each, and the Japanese Maltese Falcon award twice, as well as the Nero Wolfe and Philip Marlowe awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and the Diamond Dagger for Life Achievement from the Crime Writers Association (UK). He’s also been honored with the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Ink magazine and the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement in the short story. In France, he has been proclaimed a Grand Maitre du Roman Noir and has twice been awarded the Societe 813 trophy. He has been a guest of honor at Bouchercon and at book fairs and mystery festivals in France, Germany, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan. As if that were not enough, he was also presented with the key to the city of Muncie, Indiana. (But as soon as he left, they changed the locks.)

LB and his wife Lynne are enthusiastic New Yorkers and relentless world travelers; the two are members of the Travelers Century Club, and have visited around 160 countries.

He is a modest and humble fellow, although you would never guess as much from this biographical note.

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