Friday, November 15, 2013

FFB Review: "When The Sacred Ginmill Closes" by Lawrence Block

Friday means Friday’s Forgotten Books with Patti Abbott.  I have been reading Lawrence Block though having come to him in recent months by way of his free book promotions. Enjoyed everything so I am now working on books that I can get by way of my local library. That resulted in today’s review of When The Sacred Ginmill Closes…..

Written from the perspective of ten years later, it is the summer of 1975 as When The Sacred Ginmill Closes and ex-cop Matt Scudder is drifting through life doing the odd job here and there. He has “saloon friends,” Skip Devoe and Tommy Tillary, among others as he spends a lot of his time drinking in various neighborhood bars and watering holes. Scudder’s world has narrowed down to a few block area of Columbus Circle in New York City. These days he lives out of a hotel and is able to sometimes send money to the ex-wife for the kids. Those who want to get in touch with Matt Sudder know to check at a local watering hole known as Armstrong’s as that is his main place.
Hardback Cover

He was at Morrissey’s the night it was robbed. Soon the brothers who own and run the place want Scudder to find the robbers so that they can deal with them privately.

Skip Devoe owns Miss Kitty’s along with his partner. Another bar that Scudder hangs out a lot. They run two sets of accounting books – one real and one fake for the IRS. The real ones are gone and Skip and his partner need the books back fast.

Then there is the problem Tommy Tillary. A salesman who can close anything over the phone, his public presence leaves a bit to be desired. Not to mention the fact that he is cheating on his wife and very publicly escorting his girlfriend around. Scudder wouldn’t care about that either, but now the wife is dead, and Tommy wants to hire Scudder to clear him as a suspect.

Starting with the robbery at Morrissey’s just before the fourth of July and ending ten years later with a summation regarding the extensive cast of characters, When The Sacred Ginmill Closes is a mystery heavily steeped in the past. The novel is for the most part, one extended long flashback recounting people, places, and events that have long since faded away. At the same time, the book showcases how things used to work long before the current conveniences we all take for granted today. Long before the internet, cell phones, and all the rest of it, who you knew as a contact was vitally important for anyone asking questions. That was true whether they were a licensed private investigator, or in the case of Scudder, a person doing a favor for a friend, shoe leather was required and was always present.

Such is the case here as Scudder plays with the pieces of very complicated puzzles, drink in hand, and gradually figures out how they all fit. Published by Arbor House of New York, When The Sacred Ginmill Closes is a good one from start to finish.

When The Sacred Ginmill Closes
Lawrence Block
Arbor House

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2013


George said...

WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES is one of Lawrence Block's best known books. HARD CASE is reprinting some of Block's early works. Block is a very underrated writer.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

I know they are and I wish I could pick them up as my local library does not seem to be getting them. Very much enjoyed this book as well as the other things I have managed to get and read.

Kelly Robinson said...

I recently nabbed a nice hardback edition of this. I can't wait to read it.