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Mass Market Paperback When the Sacred Ginmill Closes Book

ISBN: 0441880975

ISBN13: 9780441880973

When the Sacred Ginmill Closes

(Book #6 in the Matthew Scudder Series)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

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Book Overview

In the dark days, in a sad and lonely place, ex-cop Matt Scudder is drinking his life away -- and doing "favors" for pay for his ginmill cronies. But when three such assignments flow together in dangerous and disturbing ways, he'll need to change his priorities from boozing to surviving.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Welcome to the World of Lawrence Block

This was my first Matt Scudder novel,and made me a lifelong Lawerace Block fan) Classic novel!

Falling Uphill

I was introduced to Lawrence Block's tales of Matthew Scudder relatively recently, but I believe I have made up for lost time. There is something about this tough guy detective that adds a level to these stories that similar series', such as Robert Parker's, do not have. No doubt this is due to Scudder's recovery from alcoholism. AA meetings and wisdom permeate the series, sometimes as a major theme and sometimes as background music. It never interferes with the story itself but it adds much to Scudder's character and makes the tales more accessible."When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" was written in 1986. Scudder narrates from the viewpoint of that year, but the story actually takes place 10 years earlier, when Scudder was still drinking heavily. It is very much a bar story; most of the action takes place in and around these establishments in New York City and its environs. There are many Irish in the story, as players, bartenders and owners, so there is always just a dash of an accent in the air. When the wife of one friend is murdered, and the illegal accounting records of another are stolen, Matthew Scudder is drawn in as 'a friend who does favors for money.' Scudder, an ex-cop who left the force when a ricocheting bullet accidentally killed a child, survives by being a not quite private eye in the moments between drinks.This is a tough story, about hard-bitten people. While drinking hasn't destroyed the lives of any of Scudder's friends yet, it has hollowed many of them out. Beneath the smiling exteriors lie anger and greed and sorrow. As Matthew digs and considers in his search for answers, he uncovers much of the masquerade. This is a story about betrayals, some subtle and some not. Most readers will quickly single out the killer, but the nature of the crime and its aftermath unfold slowly, until Scudder is unable to know and not take action. The story of the theft is a separate thread, full of humor and melancholy, and is true detective fictionWhile the theme of "When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" is somber, it's mood is kept light by the dry wit of Block's telling. Characters are limned with quick sure strokes and the rhythm of the dialog keeps the story moving easily along. The novel draws its title from a Dave Van Ronk song -- "Last Call." The verses tell the real story that lies beneath the action; "And so we've had another night of poetry and poses. And each man knows he'll be alone when the sacred ginmill closes." This is a novel that steadily grows on the reader, providing much to think about.

Scudder not dry

Block runs his alcoholic detective Matt Scudder through the bar scene of the 70"s in Manhattan. The problems he is presented with all revolve around denizens of his alcoholic world. The amazing thing for this series is that Block does not have Scudder agonizing over his drinking. Of course, he is surrounded by others who drink the way he does which serves to conceal his drinking. Block inserted this title into the series outside of the chronological order giving him a chance to close on an up-beat note. Readers looking for a straight crime novel will not find it here. Readers interested in a gritty potrayal of the low end of life in Manhattan will be mesmerized.

You'll want to visit this Ginmill

"When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" ranks up there with "8 Million Ways to Die" as one of the best Matthew Scudder novels. In this book, the freshly rehabbed Scudder recalls a case from the heart of his alcoholic period (circa 1975). He gets involved in a couple of cases involving his barfly buddies. One involves extortion, the other a burglary and murder. In neither instance is Scudder terribly enthusiastic about being involved. Author Lawrence Block vividly describes the drinking life with the eye of a man who's obviously been there. The descriptions of self denial and lives slowly being wasted are memorable without being heavy handed. "Ginmill" is a hardboiled P.I. story from a master author who is on top of his game. Fans of Chandler-esque fiction should love it.


A grim and disturbing novel about crime, alcoholism and betrayal, this should have been gloomy and depressing, but, like his previous novels, Block is able to leave you completely satisfied. The seediness of NYC becomes the backdrop for the flawed hero that you have to love. This was the third Scudder mystery I have read, and they have all been excellent. There are several fast moving plot lines that are expertly intertwined; there is quality writing; and the dialogue is sharp and accurate. But, like any great work of fiction, the novel goes much deeper. An unforgettable novel, I highly recommend it.

Scudder, alcoholic detective solves crime in his own milieu

Matt Scudder, ex-NYPD detective, alcoholic, seeker, runs across crime on his own street. Starting with a holdup in an afterhours joint, continuing with the murder of a wife of a drinking friend and involving a tax avoidance scheme of some friendly bar owners the book's plot manages to tie up everything with rough justice for all. Block knows how to set a realistic scene among the second class bars of Manhattan and the losers that live in them. NOTE: The time of the book is set before "Eight Milion Ways to Die" in the same series, but the book was published later
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