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When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (1986)

de Lawrence Block

Sèrie: Matthew Scudder (6)

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6912024,550 (4.13)16
Lawrence Block is a four-time winner of the Edgar Award and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He has also won four Shamus Awards, and was the first recipient of the Nero Wolfe Award. He is the author of over 40 books, many of which feature the characters Bernie Rhodenbarr, Matthew Scudder, Chip Harrison, and Evan Tanner. He lives in New York City with his wife Lynne.… (més)
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    Driving Force de Dick Francis (benfulton)
    benfulton: The two main characters share a certain unemotional doggedness as a response to past pain that I found appealing.
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The sixth Matthew Scudder novel, “When The Sacred Ginmill Closes,” is a tightly written journey into the gritty realism of bars and after hours clubs of New York City. Scudder, here, is practically drowning in booze and even notes at one point that, when he sets out for home, he ends up in a bar. Most days, he doesn’t even know how he got home. Much of the action in this book takes place in a couple of nearby bars and, if it is not taking place in the bars, it is taking place with the guys

Scudder is hanging out with in the bars. In one bar, a pair of masked men with guns enter, holding up the place. In another, the books are stolen, meaning the real books, not the one that the IRS sees, the one that shows the take before the skim. Pretty much all the action takes place at night as Scudder deals with blackmailers and others. Even when he is checking out a client’s home to see where the burglars went and what they did, he can’t keep his hands off the client’s booze.

This may be one of the darkest and gloomiest of the Scudder novels. It is also one of the tightest, focusing on a few days in Scudder’s life as he deals with a few odd cases that are thrown his way from murder to blackmail to masked robbers. What sets this book apart from many other books out there is how realistic the dialogue and action is. Nothing in it is over the top. Nothing in it is purely something that only happens in books or movies. When the guys gather to figure out how to deal with the blackmailers, their reactions are authentic. They are truly a bunch of amateurs.

All in all, it is, without any question, a five-star read, but all of the Scudder series is fine work. It is detective fiction, but involving a most unusual detective. One without an office, without a secretary, without a license. One who doesn’t really know what fee to set when doing favors for friends or friends of friends. Scudder was once a cop, but lost the taste for it after an innocent girl got shot in a shoot-out with the bad guys. One could say he’s drowning in guilt. After he was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting, he left the force, left his wife, left his suburban home, and makes it one day at a time, one drink at a time. There are probably few, if any, detectives in literary history who are as carefully and as deeply developed as Block’s Scudder is. He is as real as they come, warts and all.
A terrific read. ( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
I'm very happy for this novel's existence. Apparently, Block had originally planned on ending Scudder's adventures after finishing up [b:Eight Million Ways to Die|76758|Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)|Lawrence Block|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1289521310s/76758.jpg|2905875]. However, after writing what was originally intended to be a short story, Block expanded it to what we now know as [b:When the Sacred Ginmill Closes|132111|When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6)|Lawrence Block|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172007415s/132111.jpg|1203196].

Taking place sometime between novels 1 and 5; Scudder is still heavily boozing it up. If I didn't know that this was a "flashback" novel, I would have been completely shocked that Scudder fell off the wagon that quickly and that severely. It's amazing the man can even function with the sheer amount of alcohol he intakes.

While not as deep as [b:Eight Million Ways to Die|76758|Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)|Lawrence Block|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1289521310s/76758.jpg|2905875] in terms of Scudder's personal life, it's certainly not an inferior novel. I mean, the book is so thick with plot; I'm surprised I could lift it. You've got Scudder trying to work out 3 separate crimes, all of which never seem to overwhelm him at any point. Granted, they're all interconnected in some way.

His personal problems take a backseat in this novel and the cases are in the fore front. Rarely does he talk about his ex-wife and children, nor his past police work and what caused him to leave the force. I will say this; in the end, after the cases are closed, we return to Scudder as he finishes telling us this story. Without spoiling anything, he does reveal some events that have come and gone since this chapter in his life. I found that pretty interesting as I have no idea where he is in regards to timeline when Book 7 picks up. Looking forward to that. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Really wanted to love this one, his sixth in the series. Didn't. Found it unsatisying and the most predictable of the set. Won't deter me from reading the next, however. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
ereader ebook
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
Every now and then I crave a good PI book, a mystery noir, some 'entertainment.' Lawrence Block has been a master of all these for decades now. I'd read a couple other of his Matt Scudder mysteries ten years or more ago and found them gripping, compelling, entertaining, and very well written. Scudder is, in many ways, that stock character in the PI genre, an ex-cop, an alcoholic, but with a strong moralistic streak. In this particular book, WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES (title courtesy of a Dave Van Ronk song lyric), the alcoholic theme can be found on nearly any given page as Scudder prowls his seedy NYC neighborhoods laced with dozens of dark dives and bars, stopping in randomly for "a quick one," "a short one," "a bracer," etc. And the Christian, moralistic theme becomes evident with references to Judas and Jesus and maybe even Pontius Pilate, as a second-rate lawyer comments on a former client, "I wash my hands of him."

I'm guessing there have been a dozen or more Scudder books in the past thirty-plus years, and I'm betting they are all damn good reads. This one was. Block allows his character to change and mature; in other words he makes him real. He writes excellent characters, in fact. In the latest issue of The New Yorker (Jan 14, 2013) there is a short piece about an East Side meeting of some members of the Mystery Writers of America, Block apparently talked of "getting out of the business." He said, "I'm with Philip Roth. Who says writers can't retire?"

Well I suppose they can. But I'm probably speaking for a lot of mystery fans when I say that I hope Lawrence Block isn't quite ready to cover up his typewriter for the last time. He's too damn good. He'd be sorely missed. I'm sure this is not the last Block book I'll read. In the PI/mystery writer ranks, he's right up there with James Lee Burke. ( )
1 vota TimBazzett | Jan 11, 2013 |
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And so we've had another night
Of poetry and poses
And each man knows he'll be alone
When the sacred ginmill closes.
--Dave Van Ronk
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Lawrence Block is a four-time winner of the Edgar Award and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He has also won four Shamus Awards, and was the first recipient of the Nero Wolfe Award. He is the author of over 40 books, many of which feature the characters Bernie Rhodenbarr, Matthew Scudder, Chip Harrison, and Evan Tanner. He lives in New York City with his wife Lynne.

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