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All the Flowers Are Dying    by Lawrence Block order for
All the Flowers Are Dying
by Lawrence Block
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Matt Scudder is back on the streets of New York City trying to find a murderer who is trying to kill both him and his wife Elaine. Does Lawrence Block ever take a break from putting pen to paper (metaphorically speaking)? He has once again written a winner. All the Flowers Are Dying is tense and full of suspense, with characters who seem to belong in a Damon Runyan novel, only with a more human side than Runyan's figures had.

A man - protesting his innocence all the while - is put to death in Virginia for killing three young boys. Was he? Innocent, that is? The reader has the advantage of sharing the killer's thoughts all through the book, which just adds to the excitement. We know what he is going to do, but Matt can only guess. All the Flowers Are Dying is not for the faint of heart. Some pretty gruesome scenes unfold. The mindset of a murderer - killing grotesquely on a whim to satisfy an immediate urge - is divulged. It makes one wonder what circumstances can create such a viciously impulsive person, while the rest of us don't give in to our inner urgings. And how does one survive, knowing a loved one has suffered so at the hands of a beast?

The workings of the police force are not belittled, as so many PI novels do. Refreshing. Matt is a recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings regularly. In spite of the harrowing conditions that sometimes accompany his life, Matt does not succumb to temptation. Is it the love of the fair Elaine? I also like that Matt is in his mid-sixties and still viable. Since I am in my early seventies, mid-sixties does not seem that old. I like having a protagonist in that age group, who is not drooling and forgetting yesterday's menu.

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