Friday, June 5, 2015



*Book 8 of the Matthew Scudder series*

A Ticket to the Boneyard is a whole new ballgame in the Matt Scudder series. After allowing Matt to confront his alcoholism in Eight Million Ways to Die and focusing on him dealing with sobriety in Out on the Cutting Edge, author Lawrence Block now has a blank slate and the space to really take Matt's story in any direction. But one would think that after your private detective character sobers up, the stories are in real danger of becoming flat and boring. Not so with Block's series! Because Boneyard is probably the most exciting Scudder book to date. Instead of Matt getting hired to solve a random mystery as with the previous novels, Block makes it personal and brings it close to home, while introducing a truly unsettling villain who proves to be a formidable foe for our hero. 

Years back when he was a cop, Matt framed a psycho, woman-hating killer who was raping and terrorizing his special lady-friend Elaine. When James Leo Motley went to prison for 12 years, he vowed to hurt Matt and everyone he loves ("You and all your women Scudder..."). Matt thought it was just the usual empty threat that criminals make while in cuffs. But things prove to be different after Motley is released crazier than ever and begins a mission to hurt any woman close to Scudder. 

This novel proves to be one of the most engaging of the series so far. While not as emotionally heavy as Eight Million, it is well paced, with the suspense quickly building as the threats to Matt's friends become real, and still packs an emotional punch as we see Matt becoming unhinged, making serious mistakes, blaming himself for these events, and getting dangerously close to falling off the wagon. 

Matt's relationship deepens with both Elaine (who's popped up sporadically in previous books), and Mick Ballou (the Irish gangster and butcher that Matt befriended in the last book). The relationships and the personal danger for Matt really make this book shine as Block steps it up another notch in this series. 
Life, I'd heard someone say, is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel. It seemed to me that it was both at once, even for those of us who don't do much of either.

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