Why is Lawrence Block not rated as one of the greatest detective novellists ever? Scudder is a creation of geniuis. On the whole, not much of a man. A drunk, a former slightly bent copper, a lousy husband and father, a drop out, a killer when necessary and yet a man you can't help liking. An intelligent tenacious detective and a man you'd want to have on your side in a crisis. He has his own morality and i think what i like about him is that although not completely divorced from society he sort of rubs along in parrallel with it, doing what's necessary to get him through life a day at a time. As the Scudder series progresses he gets himself on a much more even keel and becomes fairly respectable but he never loses the edge and is never more than a step away from the underbelly of New York.
I have never been to New York so cannot judge, but i believe Blocks portrayal of the city may be very accurate. I am also not an alcoholic but i used to be a fairly regular drinker and have associated, from both sides of the bar, with people who were well on the way to alcoholism, so I believe very strongly that the portrayal of the transition from drunk to sober with the lapses in between is probably spot on. The Scudder stories are not comfortable, gentle country house murders with little old ladies or improbable belgian detectives with unlikely moustaches solving crimes committed by, on the whole, a rather refined class of villain, they are hard, gritty, sometimes vicious stories from a world that most of us can be thankful that we're no closer to that its periphery. The stories are all good, mostly very good, but it's really more the character study of the man that is so fascinating.