cover image Out on the Cutting Edge

Out on the Cutting Edge

Lawrence Block. William Morrow & Company, $17.95 (260pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09069-2

The prolific author's humanity and the immediacy of his understated style are again evidenced in his seventh mystery related by Matt Scudder: ex-NYPD officer, recovering alcoholic, and now private detective ( When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes , etc.). This novel opens with Matt looking for Paula Hoeldtke, an aspiring actress who disappeared a short time after she arrived in Manhattan from Muncie, Ind. In an unrelated case, Matt investigates the apparent suicide of a fellow AA member, Eddie Dunphy, and becomes the lover of Willa Rossiter, who manages the apartment house where Eddie lived. The affair flourishes despite warnings from his AA sponsor about an involvement with Willa, a heavy drinker. Matt ignores the advice, as he does the anonymous phone calls ordering him to quit asking questions about the missing girl and Eddie's death. In time, the dogged investigator uncovers the appalling facts that close both cases. In this riveting mystery, Block's artistry creates a full complement of fully realized characters, each a real person regardless of his or her perhaps tenuous connection to the plot. (Oct.)