The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Series #1)

The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Series #1)

3.8 38
by Lawrence Block
     
 

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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 fatherhas 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.

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Overview

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 fatherhas 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Block has been getting better and better in recent Matt Scudder novels, but as this first hardcover version of a 16-year-old paperback shows, he was pretty good from the start. King's admiring introduction is generous but by no means overstated. This tale, which introduced the then-hard-drinking ex-cop, is spare and lean and full of dark insights into lonesomeness and anguish. The father of murdered Wendy Hanniford comes to Scudder to try to find out more about his errant daughter--not to find her killer, who was apparently her living partner, a brittle young man who was found in the street raving and covered with her blood and who killed himself shortly after he was arrested. In his dour, methodical, oddly empathetic way, Scudder finds out a great deal, altering several lives in the process. As always in the Scudder books, New York City--its small-hours bars, its jokey, edgy encounters--is a major character; as in the later books, too, Block's style is admirable: free of gimmicks, plain but utterly telling in every line. This is a fine opportunity to get in on the start of what has become one of the most rewarding PI series currently in progress. (May)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061797583
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Matthew Scudder Series , #1
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
26,077
File size:
564 KB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

He was a big man, about my height with a little more flesh on his heavy frame. His eyebrows, arched and prominent, were still black. The hair on his head was iron gray, combed straight back, giving his massive head a leonine appearance. He had been wearing glasses but had placed them on the oak table between us. His dark brown eyes kept searching my face for secret messages. If he found any, his eyes didn't reflect them. His features were sharply chiseled -- a hawk-bill nose, a fullmouth, a craggy jawline -- but the full effect of his face was as a blank stone tablet waiting for someone to scratch commandments on it.

He said, "I dont know very much about you, Scudder."

I knew a little about him. His name was Cale Hanniford. He was around fifty-five years old. He lived upstate in Utica where he had a wholesale drug business and some real estate holdings. He had last year's Cadillac parked outside at the curb. He had a wife waiting for him in his room at the Carlyle.

He had a daughter in a cold steel drawer at the city mortuary.

"There's not much to know," I said. "I used to be a cop."

"An excellent one, according to Lieutenant Koehler."

I shrugged.

"And now you're a private detective."

"No."

"I thought--"

"Private detectives are licensed. They tap telephones and follow people. They fill out forms, they keep records, all of that. I don't do those things. Sometimes I do favors for people. They give me gifts."

"Isee."

I took a sip of coffee. I was drinking coffee spiked with bourbon. Hanniford had a Dewar's and water in front of him but wasn't taking much interest in it. We were in Armstrong's, a good sound saloon with dark wood walls and a stamped tin ceiling. It was two in the afternoon on the second Tuesday in January, and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. A couple of nurses from Roosevelt Hospital were nursing beers at the far end of the bar, and a kid with a tentative beard was eating a hamburger at one of the window tables.

He said, "It's difficult for me to explain what I want you to do for me, Scudder."

"I'm not sure that there's anything I can do for you. Your daughter is dead. I can't change that. The boy who killed her was picked up on the spot. From what I read in the papers, it couldn't be more open-and-shut if they had the homicide on film." His face darkened; he was seeing that film now, the knife slashing. I went on quickly. "They picked him up and booked him and slapped him in the Tombs. That was Thursday?" He nodded. "And Saturday morning they found him hanging in his cell. Case closed."

"Is that your view? That the case is closed?"

"From a law enforcement standpoint."

"That's not what I meant. Of course the police have to see it that way. They apprehended the killer, and he's beyond punishment." He leaned forward. "But there are things I have to know."

"Like what?"

"I want to know why she was killed. I want to know who she was. I've had no real contact with Wendy in the past three years. Christ, I didn't even know for certain that she was living in New York." His eyes slipped away from mine. "They say she didn't have a job. No apparent source of income. I saw the building she lived in. I wanted to go up to her apartment, but I couldn't. Her rent was almost four hundred dollars a month. What does that suggest to you?"

"That some man was paying her rent."

"She shared that apartment with the Vanderpoel boy. The boy who killed her. He worked for an antiques importer. He earned something in the neighborhood of a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. If a man were keeping her as his mistress, he wouldn't let her have Vanderpoel as a roommate, would he?" He drew a breath. "I guess it must be fairly obvious that she was a prostitute. The police didn't tell me that in so many words. They were tactful. The newspapers were somewhat less tactful."

They usually are. And the case was the kind the newspapers like to play with. The girl was attractive, the murder took place in the Village, and there was a nice core of sex to it. And they had picked up Richard. Vanderpoel running in the streets with her blood all over him. No city editor worth a damn would let that one slide past him.

He said, "Scudder? Do you see why the case isn't closed for me?"

"I guess I do." I made myself look deep into his dark eyes. "The murder was a door starting to open for you. Now you have to know what's inside the room."

"Then you do understand."

I did, and wished I didn't. I had not wanted the job. I work as infrequently as I can. I had no present need to work. I don't need much money. My room rent is cheap, my day-to-day expenses low enough. Besides, I had no reason to dislike this man. I have always felt more comfortable taking money from men I dislike.

"Lieutenant Koehler didn't understand what I wanted. I'm sure he only gave me your name as a polite way of getting rid of me." That wasn't all there was to it, but I let it pass. "But I really need to know these things. Who was she? Who did Wendy turn into? And why would anyone want to kill her?"

Why did anyone want to kill anybody? The act of murder is performed four or five...

Sins of the Fathers. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

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The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read from beginning to end. Hope to read more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought this for $0.99. My first Lawrence Block novel. Now I'm hooked and will continue reading the Matthew Scudder series.
JackBurbank More than 1 year ago
As a Lawrence Block fan, I expect a good read from every one of his books I pick up. So, he did it again. "The Sins of the Fathers" is a very compelling read. A bit drier than some of the Matt Scudder series, but also a little more haunting. The bizarre behavior of the assumed killer (I was always waiting for an unexpected twist) was just strange enough to be real for a NYC killing. In fact, about fifty pages into the story I had a nagging feeling I had already read this years ago. I had. But the second time was just as intriguing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the easily relatable Matthew Scudder. Will read more of the series.
detayls More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed thd good characterizations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read. Enough to make me want to continue the series. Kind of predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Lawrence Block's books and enjoyed reading this one. I've read quite a few of his books including some later ones in this series. I like the way he develops his characters over time as each series progresses. I probably didn't rate this one as high because I had already read some of the later ones and knew more about the main character. I would recommend the series to anyone who likes mysteries. It's not necessary to read them in order but I think you follow the characters better if you do.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Lawrence Block never disappoints!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Shadow dared phoenix to have"fun"with you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Sins of the Fathers" is a little gem of detective noir. A young girl is brutally murdered, the man living with her found covered in her blood. An open and shut case, or so it would seem. Inter ex-cop Matt Scudder who does favors for people in exchange for "gifts" - so as to avoid paperwork and the need for a private detective license. This story may be short, but like a shot of good whiskey, it leaves you wanting more even though it burns on the way down.
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Interesting crime mystery, fast read
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