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Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King
A Long Line of Dead Men (Matthew Scudder)
Lawrence Block

A Walk Among the Tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones - Lawrence Block A young lady is snatched by a pair of lowlifes and held for ransom. Her husband, drug dealer Kenan Khoury, is forced to cough up four hundred thousand for her safe return. Upon payment, her husband is told to collect her from the trunk of a car not far from his home. Hoping to reunite with his missing wife, Kenan finds her in less than desirable shape.

Distraught over his wife’s murder and unable to reach out to the police, Kenan turns to his brother Peter who suggests bringing in Matt Scudder, a man Peter met while at an AA meeting.

Ten books in and Matt’s vision of black and white has morphed into a solid grey. Matt admits that if this case had been presented to him years ago, he may have passed on it. However, over time, he’s been involved in a lot of shady situations and even once framed someone he had found out was guilty after initially clearing him of another crime. Matt knows that what happened to Kenan and his wife was undoubtedly wrong but helping a drug dealer achieve vengeance against those responsible wouldn’t exactly fall in line with the Matt Scudder who worked for the NYPD.

The thing I liked most about this story is that even before Matt can start turning over some stones, he’s already got his back up against the wall. Kenan immediately cremated his wife after her murder so there’s no longer a corpse, there’s no witness who can verify the abduction taking place and because of points one and two, there isn’t a great starting point for Scudder. Matt knows that solving this case is a long shot but he jumps on board anyway. Wouldn’t you if you were handed a $10,000 retainer?

While the case itself is interesting and the villains are twisted monsters, it’s the development of Scudder’s supporting cast that takes center stage. TJ, a fifteen year old street-wise kid that Scudder met a few books back shows that he can be incredibly resourceful. Elaine, Scudder’s girlfriend, succeeds in ways that he didn't predict. Block also introduces a pair of hackers dubbed The Kongs, associates of TJ that are so entertaining that I’m hoping they make another appearance down the road.

It should be noted that Block created a bone chilling killer that rivals Motley from A Ticket to the Boneyard – which isn't easy to do. Each phone call with the abductor grows more and more unsettling leading up to their ultimate confrontation near the end. I won’t be so bold to spoil anything but there’s some dialogue coming from that psychopath that hits hard.

It’s worth noting that there’s a film adaptation in the works that I believe just finished filming and is in the post-production stage. There’s no set date for release other than "2014" but I’m hoping it’ll be received better than the last time Scudder hit Hollywood in the 1986 adaptation of Eight Million Ways to Die. I have a hard time seeing Neeson as Scudder but I’m sure someone knows what they’re doing.

Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing