A couple of weeks back I read A Drop of the Hard Stuff, which reminded me how much I enjoy Lawrence Block, and in particular his Matthew Scudder novels. So I went back and re-read the first book in the series, The Sins of the Father, which lived up to the pedestal my memory had elevated it to, and immediately tore through the second book, Time to Murder and Create. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m now reading the third, and highly anticipating the seminal fifth book in the series.

Time to Murder and Create has a tantalising premise: a small-time crook hires Scudder to guard a package, and only open it if he meets an untimely demise.

Obviously he does. C’mon, now. What did you expect?

Scudder discovers the package contains four envelopes, three of which hold blackmail evidence for three different people — all of which is potentially worthy of murder — and the fourth envelope contains cash for Scudder’s investigatory services. The dead crook wants Scudder to unravel the mystery of his death, and so our unlicensed private investigator visits each of the blackmail victims, probing them, determined to uncover the identity of the killer.

This isn’t top tier Block, but it’s a taut page-turner, and readers will enjoy this pulpy, bite-sized mystery. It’s very workmanlike, like Block’s on autopilot, going through the motions as he weaves his tale. Still highly readable and enjoyable, full of colourful characters and perfect dialogue and descriptions; just missing that special something. More than anything, Time to Murder and Create adds layers to the character of Matthew Scudder, which makes the payoff in the fifth book in the series, Eight Million Ways to Die, all the more resonant.

ISBN: 9780752827490
Format: Paperback (179mm x 145mm x 14mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 1-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

One thought on “Review: Time to Murder and Create by Lawrence Block

  1. I seem to also remember 8 Million Ways to Die as the first really good one in the series, but these early Scudder books were also fun reads. This one certainly had a good opening act, with “The Spinner” anticipating his own demise.

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