three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
17-July-Aug-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-AllFlowersDyingSober and semi-retired, private investigator Matt Scudder has found a case that’s just his speed: an acquaintance needs a background check on a suitor she’s met online. Meanwhile, in Virginia, a psychologist attends the death row execution of a man he is sure is innocent. As Scudder combs the New York streets, haunted by memories of 9/11 and disturbed by what he discovers about his friend’s potential beau, a serial killer starts to pick off victims that are closer and closer to Scudder’s front door.
Morrow. 288 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0060198311

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The way Block brings together the disparate parts of his plot into one electrifying whole is testimony to his extraordinary skills." David J. Montgomery

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"To keep the Scudder saga tense and edgy, and maybe to make it clear that he’s not writing cozies, Block has countered his hero’s personal progress with a gallery of molesters, tormentors and homicidal maniacs, all as chilling as they are fully realized, whose methods of operation have grown more appallingly vicious and ugly with each book." Dick Lochte

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"Although Scudder’s hunt for the killer turns into a companionable tour of colorful neighborhoods, his thoughts on the city run deep and reflect real feelings about its humanity." Marilyn Stasio

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[All The Flowers Are Dying] takes the series back to the noir tone of the earlier novels when Scudder was a drunk, divorced, unlicensed private investigator going nowhere fast. Not a bad thing for nighthawk readers, who like their streets mean and their characters down and gritty." Michael Helfand

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Today, Block does what he does as well as he’s ever done it, but I think that time is passing him by. … I’ve often listed my [favorite crime authors]—Lehane, Pelecanos and Connelly are prominent on the list—and, with all respect to Block and his body of work, they’re where the action is now." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Block, like so many successful mystery writers, is a proven commodity. With a shelf full of awards (including four Edgars, four Shamus Awards, two Maltese Falcon Awards, the Nero Wolfe Award, and Grandmaster status from the Mystery Writers of America), he’s established his mastery of riveting plots, compelling characters, and whip-smart dialogue. So what surprises does the 16th Matt Scudder mystery hold? Reviewers note the progression (or regression) towards the darker side of noir fiction, especially in the gruesome actions of the serial killer. And while the gore might be reason enough to keep faint-hearted readers away, a few critics find the serial killer too flat to be believable. More of a good thing might not bring effusive praise, but it’s sure to satisfy Block fans.