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Eight Million Ways to Die    by Lawrence Block order for
Eight Million Ways to Die
by Lawrence Block
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

William Morrow has reissued Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block, grandmaster of classic early detective novels, for its 25th anniversary. This work was a winner when first published and is a winner still.

PI Matthew Scudder lives a rather secluded life in a New York City residential hotel that is if you discount his daily forays into one bar or another. Not believing he has a problem with the demon rum, he is stunned when he has a blackout and ends up in hospital. However his attendance at various AA meetings seems geared more to pleasing others than for his own good.

Having been a police officer, Scudder is acquainted with the underworld at least that of prostitutes, many of whom were his snitches. When one young woman in the life asks Scudder to intervene with her pimp for her release from his care, he ends up becoming a friend of the pimp. After she is savagely murdered, the pimp wants Scudder to track down the person responsible.

As it is said that there are eight million stories in the city of New York, so must there be eight million ways to die ... Great premise. Exciting story. Plenty of action for those of us who crave action and lots of soul searching for those who are a little more introspective. Block's characters rise from the page fully formed from physique to personality. Like 'em or hate 'em, they're real. As is the City of New York with its pubs and bars and back streets.

An extremely prolific writer, Lawrence Block appeals to most every reader of the mystery genre. Along with this Matthew Scudder series, the Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries, the Adventures of Evan Tanner and the Affairs of Chip Harrison, Block has written numerous other novels and short story collections, books for writers, and has also edited anthologies. Where does he find the time? However he manages it, I'm very glad that he does.

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