I'm very happy for this novel's existence. Apparently, Block had originally planned on ending Scudder's adventures after finishing up Eight Million Ways to Die. However, after writing what was originally intended to be a short story, Block expanded it to what we now know as When the Sacred Ginmill Closes.
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 Eight Million Ways to Die 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.