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The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder #1)

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  5,299 ratings  ·  364 reviews
The pretty young prostitute is dead. Her alleged murderer—a minister's son—hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's fatherhas come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures.
ebook, 132 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen
Standing among the crowd of burned out, “ex-cop,” morally suspect private investigators inside the dingy, cluttered, dimly lit literary bar called "Mysteries," Matt Scudder manages to stand out and sparkle shine, despite his seeming overabundance of unassumingness. Well appearances deceive and depth takes time to appreciate. Trust me when I say you haven’t met Matt Scudder before.

This guy is an original. Scudder isn’t the macho, “steely-eyed” superior type. He doesn’t gruffly walk around badass
...more
Greg
As my first bit of book reviewing for the new year (being started seven minutes into the new year, yep another exciting new year's eve with me reporting on books here on goodreads), I'll admit that I was wrong in my opinion of Lawrence Block. For years I thought nothing of him, I thought he was another of those male macho writers, sort of a mystery version of say a Vince Flynn, or a Brad Thor, or some other preposterously monikered hack. Or I thought he was the type of writers old men read, like ...more
Dan 1.0
When call girl is murdered and her roommate/killer hangs himself in prison, the girl's wealthy stepfather hires Matthew Scudder to investigate the girl's past and find out why her life ended the way it did. Scudder's investigations lead him through a web of sex and lies...

Wow. Lawrence Block always keeps me entertained but this was one hell of a read. It's less than 200 pages but one of the more powerful pieces of detective fiction I've read in years. I figured Scudder would unearth some bad thi
...more
Jeff
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Matt Scudder book. The previous one was Eight Million Ways to Die, which was made into a horrible movie starring Jeff Bridges. I don’t know if watching this botched cinematic attempt to capture Lawrence Block’s character tempered my desire to pursue the books, but I can honestly say I’m sorry I waited so long to re-boot my interest in the series.

Although the plot is a good one (it revolves around Scudder’s attempt to bring some closure to the brutal murder of g
...more
Trudi

I've finally found my way to Matt Scudder. And ladies and gents? There ain't no going back. I'm intrigued, a little titillated, crushing for sure, maybe even falling in love. I had my reservations at first. I don't "do" hardboiled detective stories. I have a kink for classic noir films that has never translated into a love for that hyper-masculinized breed of pulp fiction. I chalked it up to "dick-lit" and moved on, assuming these stories were written for the menfolk, and would contain very litt
...more
Mike
Aug 29, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hard boiled crime and detective fiction
Recommended to Mike by: goodreads group Pulp Fiction
The Sins of the Fathers: Lawrence Block's First Matt Scudder Novel

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Dell First Edition, 1976

"The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children."--William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act Three, Scene Five, Line One

All right. I admit it. I'm turning 60 in two days. And I've never read Lawrence Block. How could this happen, all you Block fans ask?

Lawrence Block introduced Matt Scudder to the world of detective fiction in 1976. No, I wasn't on an extensive Bi-Centennial celebration.
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Kemper
On the surface, Matt Scudder would appear to be something of a lowlife.

As a cop in New York in the 1970s, he wasn’t above taking bribes or framing someone. After he accidentally shot and killed a child while trying to break up a robbery, he quit the cops and left his wife and two sons to live in a hotel in Manhattan. He makes his living as an unlicensed private detective who refuses to keep records or file reports, and he gets information by bribing various cops and government workers. He drinks
...more
James Thane
The Sins of the Fathers would be a solid four stars from me on any day. I'm giving it five because it's the first book in what I've always believed to be the best P.I. series that anyone's ever done, if not the best crime fiction series that anyone's ever done. The Matthew Scudder saga now runs to seventeen books and a large number of short stories, and it's hard to think of any other writer who has done a series consisting of this many books over this many years while maintaining this standard ...more
Carol.
Straightforward, clean and classic, The Sins was the perfect book for a lazy afternoon in the sun. Decent characterization, a serviceable investigation and the seedy side of 1970s New York all contribute to a fast read.

The first book in a long-running series introduces Matthew Scudder, a 15 year veteran of NYPD who retired after an accidental shooting of a seven-year-old girl. That incident became a breaking point, an emotional trauma that is shared with the reader in bits and pieces. Now living
...more
Lou
Dead son and a dead daughter.
Father and son, Father and daughter all have a dark past and all weigh up in the play of good and evil.

Suicide is tragic and a last call out of turmoil and distress, it’s a sin even Scudder knows that otherwise he himself confesses to contemplating taking that road. Scudder ex-cop turned Private Investigator was on the force for almost sixteen years divorced with kids, he works as infrequently as he can for now and in no need for money, he has a cheap room and lives
...more
Becky
It seems that lately, everywhere I turn, Lawrence Block's name comes up. This is probably due to some of the company I keep here on this site. But in my opinion, that's a good thing. It led me here and intrigued me to read this book.

I imagine that the Scudder series is one of those that just keeps getting better with each book. I hope that's the case, anyway - not because the first book wasn't great, but rather because it gives me something to look forward to as I read through them.

I really li
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Nikki
It’s not that often I delve into the noir-ish side of crime, though it’s not because I have anything particular against it — the whole class of casually drinking, smoking and screwing detectives with cynical attitudes don’t repel me, whether it be Brandstetter, Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. Or, in this case, Matt Scudder. It comes down to the individual detective, and in that sense, Scudder probably comes out neck and neck with Brandstetter. He’s involved in a case that seems sordid, yet he avoid ...more
Brandon
I needed a hole to fill the VOID left by my consumption of the John Connolly Charlie Parker series. Luckily, Connolly has a new book coming out in September, The Burning Soul. Until then, I needed a detective series of substance. A character so cool, so awesome, that I could branch out from Charlie Parker into another series. I've actually had this book on my to-read list for several months now. I have no idea what took me so long to pick it up. I mean, it's not like Kemper, Dan or Stephen had b ...more
Tfitoby
Lawrence Block does it again!

The man sure can write. This is a tight little novel, the debut of Matt Scudder and an enjoyable piece of 70's noir. He's an ex-cop with a drinking problem exchanging favours to get by. The murder-suicide of a prostitute and a gay guy serve as a background for his introduction to the reader and an excuse for him to drink as much as possible.

His journey kicks over some rocks that some people would have preferred to have remained in place and leads to the inevitable co
...more
Larry Bassett
This was a paperback mystery when it was first published in 1976. The edition that I am reading is from 1992, is the first hardcover edition, and has an Introduction by Stephen King. In 1991 King published Needful Things. According the Wikipedia, “It is the first novel King wrote after his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol.” King’s introduction includes a discussion of the alcoholism of series protagonist Matthew Scudder. In all, I found the ten page introduction more enjoyable than enlighte ...more
Mara
If you're entering the world of Matthew Scudder, you better brace yourself for some dark and delicious detective work. I don't know why I keep wanting to use adjectives normally reserved for coffee blends to describe this book. I'm pretty sure evenly-roasted isn't a term intended for literary review, but this story (and Scudder himself) just hit every note I never knew I needed for a supremely satisfying read.

Scudder is neither hero nor villain; he goes by his own rules and defies what might be
...more
Cathy DuPont
Another one of those writers who I’ve heard and read about but never took time to read.

Apparently Lawrence Block has been an influence to other popular writers for a number of years now; writers who I have enjoyed reading for years. Never got around to reading Block though, he could wait. Just seemed that another James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly or Robert B. Parker got in the way. My loss, my loss especially since I’ve had plenty of opportunities; he’s been writing since the 1950’s and this b
...more
Eric
May 22, 2012 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Lawrence Block
I picked up the Kindle version of this for 99c (all of Lawrence Block's back catalog is on sale on Amazon.com).

As for my review: I liked it a great deal. It was a quick, compelling read. The main character was a likable rogue, the mystery was complex without being too convoluted, and the solution had some nice twists to it.

My only issue is with the title. The Sins of the Fathers. Now, if you hadn't read this yet, like I hadn't, wouldn't you think you knew who the killer was?

Well, you would be c
...more
Melissa
Well, hell, I guess I'm going to have to read this series now too!
Book Concierge
A pretty young woman is found in a pool of blood; she’s been slashed repeatedly with a sharp instrument. Her male roommate is found on the street nearby, covered in her blood, exposing himself and babbling incoherently. Arrested for her murder, he hangs himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl's father has come to Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop and unlicensed private investigator, hoping for answers; he’s been somewhat estranged from his daughter and he wants to know how she c ...more
Nate
I actually was unaware of Matt Scudder's existence until very recently when I saw the pretty-good A Walk Among the Tombstones starring Liam Neeson. I should probably say that was expecting very, very little when I put it on and only then noticed Block's name in the credits and kinda went "Oh yeah...I think my dad likes that guy." I like Neeson a lot, but dude has not been nearly picky enough about his roles for like the last 5 years and so I was surprised by the unmistakably hard-boiled flavor. ...more
Michael
A pretty young prostitute is found dead, killed by a minister’s son who is found hanging in a prison cell. This case may seem open and shut, considering the boy was found with her blood all over him and he confessed to the murder. But when the father hires private investigator Matthew Scudder to find out more of his daughters life, what will he uncover?

Sins of the Fathers is pretty different from normal hard-boiled novels; the crime and case is closed and the PI is hired for something completely
...more
Jim
I've listened to another in this series, so it was nice to listen to the first one. No real surprises. Typical Block, very understated. Scudder is likable if a rather aimless character. The mystery was OK, a little obvious, but not bad at all. The way Scudder solved it was perfect.

I have the next book in the series, but I'm reading another mystery in paperback & don't like having 2 books of the same genre going at the same time. Too easy to get confused. Besides, I'm not in any rush. Scudde
...more
Ken
"The Sins of the Father" is the first book in Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series and the first book that I have read by this author.

Scudder is the definition of the cliched hardboiled detective. The mystery to which he has attached himself is not overly complex and it is not difficult to guess where Block is leading the reader. But, when taken as a whole, the setting, the characters, the crime all weave a bit of mental comfort food.

"The Sins of the Father" was a fun read and will be the fir
...more
Franky
At one point in the novel, Matthew Scudder reflects “Everyone has mean little places inside himself.” I thought this a fitting quote for The Sins of the Fathers, as it emphasizes the nature of duality in people. There are two sides to everyone, even if most often we only see one side.

Investigating the brutal death of a young woman named Wendy Hanniford seems like an open and shut case for Matthew Scudder. Richard Vanderpool, a minster’s son, had committed suicide shortly after being formally ch
...more
Patrick
Apr 05, 2008 Patrick rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Andy Larrison?
This is the first published mystery in the Matthew Scudder "series" by Lawrence Block. It is also one of Block's first novels. Since i have devouring more recent books in this series, I decided to go back to the beginning to see what the early books were like.

This is an OK mystery...pretty straightforward, and you'll guess who the real killer is pretty quickly. The book is really dated with a 1970's old-fashioned view of many social trends we take for granted today, such as homosexuality, illegi
...more
Randy
The facts seemed pretty clear. A young woman, thought to be a prostitute, had been murdered by her live-in. He, in turn, had hanged himself in a jail cell with a noose made of sheets and pillowcases.

All the young woman's father wanted from Matt Scudder was to build a picture of his daughter and possibly a solution to how her life had turned into what it became.

As he started developing a picture, he learns that, one, she seemed a reluctant prostitute. Even in college, she pursued older men, sever
...more
Kim
When I started this I thought it would be a detective novel like many others I've read before. You know the story. Tough-as-nails PI gets case he has to solve. There's shady characters, dangerous broads, murder and mayhem.

This book is nothing like that. Yes there's a crime and a murder. But the crime is solved at the start of the book. Scudder is "hired" by the father of the murder victim for something very different. He hasn't spoken to his daughter in three years and wants to know how she ende
...more
Meg
Brilliant hard boiled detective novel - I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Easy narrative style that can be read in a few short hours is The Sins of the Fathers. Matthew Scudder is an ex-cop who does "favors" for people and receives "gifts" in return. He also gives "gifts" to a few of his former NYPD brethren - the cost of a new hat or a few drinks or cab fare home. In this way when Scudder investigates something, he is free from contracts, reports, billing, and taxes as a proper licensed P.I. must do. He always tithes 10% of his gifts and makes sure the Captain "gets ...more
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Pulp Fiction: January 2013 - The Sins of the Fathers 85 99 Jul 06, 2013 01:19AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Fix of the fathers 3 27 Nov 25, 2012 04:26PM  
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  • The Judas Goat (Spenser, #5)
  • Flood (Burke, #1)
  • Homicide Trinity (Nero Wolfe, #36)
  • The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee #1)
  • Cop Hater (87th Precinct #1)
  • The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)
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17613
Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2002.

From his web site:

I'm told every good author website needs a bio, so here's mine:

"Lawrence Block's novels range from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (A Drop of the Hard Stuff) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar on the Prowl), while other characters include the globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanne
...more
More about Lawrence Block...

Other Books in the Series

Matthew Scudder (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Time to Murder and Create (Matthew Scudder, #2)
  • In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder, #3)
  • A Stab in the Dark (Matthew Scudder, #4)
  • Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6)
  • Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder, #7)
  • A Ticket to the Boneyard (Matthew Scudder, #8)
  • A Dance At The Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder, #9)
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)
  • The Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder, #11)
Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5) When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6) Hit Man (Keller, #1) Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #1) A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)

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“Something I learned long ago. It is not necessary to know what a person is afraid of. It is enough to know the person is afraid.” 8 likes
“Dangerous thing, giving humanity the knowledge of good and evil. And the capacity to make the wrong choice more often than not.” 7 likes
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