Thursday, June 5, 2014

OUT THE WINDOW by Lawrence Block


I'd forgotten how much I like Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder stories.

In “Out the Window,” (1977) a young waitress at one of Matt's favorite bars commits suicide. At least, that's the way it appears.

The young woman locked her apartment door, put on the safety chain, undressed, and then jumped out the window. The police have already written off the case as suicide.

But the woman's sister is not convinced. She hires the still-practicing-alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder to investigate.

Scudder does what he was trained as a policeman to do. He surveys the scene, the young woman's apartment. He interviews people in the building and elsewhere, he looks at photos of the scene, and he talks to the young woman's almost-ex-boyfriend.

Only after a week of investigation, a night at the bar, and during a walk home with a waitress who invites him in does it occur to Scudder what must have happened.

Some bloggers have the habit of telling you a story's first line. The first line of this story is, “There was nothing special about her last day.”

I quote the line because it illustrates what I like about Lawrence Block's writing. His writing is simple, straightforward, and filled with implication. It is the kind of writing I enjoy reading.

“Out the Window” is a short story packaged for electronic readers. I assume other Scudder stories are similarly available. I think this story is also available in audio form.

I bought this story for a couple reasons: (1) I wanted to become reacquainted with an excellent writer; and (2) I like good short stories or novels I can read in one or two sittings. Those kinds of stories remind me of the old days.

If you've not checked in with Matthew Scudder lately, you might enjoy “Out the Window.”

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