Written by Lawrence Block — The Night and the Music is a collection of all the short stories about Matthew Scudder. Within there is a history of the detective many have followed over the years. The stories explore Scudder as well as other well known characters and frame the entire life of the famous detective from his time on the force to what looks like retirement. The stories also all have a strong sense of place, as the author celebrates the good and bad of New York.
There are crime stories for certain. In A Moment of Wrong Thinking, Scudder recalls an apparent suicide from his past. It’s a great crime story that goes beyond detective work, as Block is so excellent at doing. We learn about the thoughts of Scudder and Elaine as the story looks back on an accidental death.
In The Angel of Mercy, Scudder is asked to find out what he can about mysterious deaths in a hospice. The story has an arc of investigation and discovery, but dwells on the more substantial questions of suffering, assisted suicide, the value of life and taking justice into your own hands. There’s a sense that the people, including Scudder, are all trying to do the right thing, in terrible circumstances.
In total, the stories could serve as either a companion to the books, if you’ve read them, or an introduction to the characters if you have not. However, if this is the first exposure you have to Scudder, I encourage you to read a bit more before taking in One Last Night at Grogan’s. This story is a touching cap to the characters and story lines. If there are no more Scudder tales to be told, this is the perfect ending.
Also included in the book is a touching introduction from Brian Koppleman where he discusses the impact the books had on him as a young man and what the characters mean to him now. It also includes a revealing author’s note that shines as a story of its own. This is a marvelous collection for fans of Scudder and for those who have never read those riveting books, and it comes at a great price for Kindle.
CFL Rating: 5 stars