過去からの弔鐘 (二見文庫―ザ・ミステリ・コレクション) 文庫 – 1987/4/21
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原題:The Sins of The Fathers
Block has done something new and remarkable with the private eye novel * Washington Post * --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。商品の説明をすべて表示する
We are introduced to Matthew Scudder. He is not someone you’d look up to, maybe not even someone you’d like, but he lives within his own code of ethics which is something you can relate to. The fact that he is a broken shell of a man makes you appreciate that he is no longer a Detective… but to quote Liam Neeson (from Taken), he has “a certain set of skills” that are incredibly useful.
The novel starts with the vicious murder of a prostitute, but her killer has already been caught. He confessed and then he hung himself. So no mystery to solve, right? Except that Matthew Scudder has been requested to find out more about the murdered prostitute. What makes this prostitute different is that she comes from wealth and her step-father wants to know who she was as an individual, since the family had lost touch with their prodigal daughter. Seems simple enough, right? Except this is Matthew Scudder and he doesn’t do simple.
You see, you can’t hire him. You can give him a gift and he can do you a favor, but he cannot be paid or hired. Within the first few pages of the novel we see that Matthew Scudder is an unscrupulous man who doesn’t think twice about committing tax evasion or breaking any number of laws… and yet it was once his responsibility to uphold the law. He’s a little greasy. He is on the dark side of icky police politics, however Matthew Scudder uses his knowledge of circumventing the law for the side of what he believes is moral.
Since you can’t hire him, he isn’t working for you. He decides how much of a favor he actually owes you - which means that he doesn’t stop once he gets his questions answered. He stops when he’s ready, and he wasn’t ready in Sins of the Father until he had obtained his brand of justice (which is of course stands outside of the law).
I loved this novel. It was incredibly refreshing. Although it is almost forty years old, nothing in Mr. Block’s writing dates it (except for Matthew Scudder having to use a pay phone to contact someone, or everyone having land lines in their homes). I liked Matthew Scudder. He isn’t someone I’d like to meet, but if I ever needed the kind of help that local authorities wouldn’t be able to provide I’d ask for one of those favors.
Definitely, read this novel. You’ll see parts of this book briefly highlighted in the movie “A Walk Among The Tombstones” (which is book 10 of the Matthew Scudder series). It’s a shame that you have to read a book that is 40 years old to find something refreshing and feels new, but that’s what you’ll get with Sins of the Father. I got so drawn into Matthew Scudder’s world that all that mattered was the ride I was on. I didn’t care when it was written. All I cared about was revealing the mystery not just of the dead prostitute, but also of who Matthew Scudder is as a man.
My favorite quotes from Sins of the Father:
“Nowadays we speak of neuroses, of psychological complications, of compulsion. Previously we spoke of witchcraft, of demonic possession. I wonder sometimes if we’re as enlightened now as we prefer to think of, or if our enlightenment does us much good.”
“It is not necessary to know what a person is afraid of. It is enough to know the person is afraid.”
“Earlier you made her sound like a victim. Now she sounds like a villain.” “Everybody’s both.”
You can pick up the Scudder novels in just about any order and be intrigued. For the most part, they are each independent books. Each one is a terrific detective novel. If you think these novels are going to be about a hardboiled detective with a fedora and a sexy secretary taking dictation, you will be quite surprised. Although derived from the hardboiled tradition, the Scudder books are different. Scudder is an old-fashioned detective who puts together little bits and pieces and figures things out by dogged work.
Scudder, if you did not know, is a former police officer. One night, off duty in a bar (where else would he be), he sees two guys hold up the joint and take out the bartender. Pursuing them outside, Scudder took them out, but a stray bullet from his gun ricocheted into the skull of a seven-year-old girl, ending her life. The shooting was found justified, but Scudder lost the desire for police work, the desire for his married life, and holed up in Hell’s Kitchen, doing favors for people in return for a few bucks. It is a dark period of his life and he literally tries to drown his troubles in booze.
This book is an amazing introduction to the Scudder series and is absolutely a powerful story. Although, as noted earlier, you can hints about this book in some of the earlier Block books about the beats and the hippies, Block’s writing truly blossoms when he writes about Scudder. These books have a depth to them that few modern-day mysteries do. Five stars, indeed.