Based on the 1992 mystery novel by author Lawrence Block, A Walk Among the Tombstones concerns the adventures of former-New-York-City-cop-turned-unlicensed-private-detective Matt Scudder. Scudder is an alcoholic who let his drinking impair his judgement while on the job with the NYPD which resulted in his dismissal.
Block as written 17 novels with Scudder as the protagonist, and are well worth seeking out if you like gritty crime novels.
As A Walk Among the Tombstones begins, the brother of a wealthy drug dealer contacts Scudder hoping that he will look into a problem. Against his better judgment, Scudder goes to see the drug dealer. It seems as though someone kidnapped his wife, demanding a ransom. The drug dealer negotiated the ransom, paid it but found his wife cut up in bags in the trunk of a car. The drug dealer wants Scudder to find the person or persons responsible in order to exact revenge.
Scudder reluctantly looks into the case. He is conflicted about helping a drug dealer, but wants to exact justice for the murdered wife. As he gets deeper and deeper into the case, he comes to a startling realization: the kidnappers are targeting criminals who are unlikely to involve the police. Furthermore, the kidnappers are sadistic; torturing their victims for sick thrills before killing them.
Things come to a head when the kidnappers abduct the teenage daughter of a Russian drug dealer. Scudder (again reluctantly) becomes involved to get the daughter back before she is tortured and killed.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is a taught psychological thriller which relies on suspense rather than mindless action or shooting sequences. Scudder is a damaged man, an alcoholic who lost his job because of drinking on duty. Despite this major flaw, Scudder is a good PI who solves his cases through information rather than shooting. In fact, by helping those in need, Scudder may even be seeking redemption.
Worth a look if you like hard-boiled PI stories or film noir.
Skip it if torture and violence make you queasy.
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