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All the Flowers Are Dying
By Lawrence Block

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All the Flowers Are Dying

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All the Flowers Are Dying
By Lawrence Block
Large Print Edition
Harper Large Print, 2005
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0-06-075942-9
Genre: Suspense

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - April 4, 2005

All the Flowers Are Dying is Lawrence Block's sixteenth Matthew Scudder novel. All the Flowers Are Dying is an arresting suspense story that pits Scudder against a diabolic serial killer who appears to be unusually intelligent and whose actions are inconsistent - making him harder to track down and catch. This is a dark story about man's mortality and the vicissitudes of growing older in a world that will not allow a man to simply retire and fade away into the night. By the end, however, you will question just how serious the sixty-something Scudder is about really wanting to retire. After all, I'm sure Block still has some good story ideas for which he needs this seasoned detective.

Preston Applewhite was convicted of the murder of three young boys and sentenced to death. His protestations of innocence where roundly ignored. After all, how many people in prison have ever admitted their guilt? The State, convinced of the righteousness of their action, carries out the imposed sentence, killing Applewhite via lethal injection. Before his death, Applewhite is visited repeatedly in prison by Dr. Bodinson. A psychologist, Bodinson gained entry to the prison by claiming to be doing a study on murderers, but he tells Applewhite that he believes his claim of innocence. What are Bodinson true motives in visiting Applewhite, and if he doesn't really believe in the convict's innocence, why the ruse?

At the same time that Dr. Bodinson is conducting his interviews with Applewhite, the supposedly retired private investigator, Matthew "Matt" Scudder is working on what should be an open and shut case. He's investigating the background of David Thompson, a friend's online love interest. What should have been simple soon turns deadly. As the bodies begin to pile up, Scudder begins to suspect that he and his wife Elaine might be next on the killer's hit list.

Scudder has a bit of a drinking problem, despite attending AA meetings. This book finds him ensconced in more than one bar. He is working on this case as a favor for a female friend he met at the AA meetings. As he investigates the background of his friend's secretive online lover, Scudder begins to stumble onto a series of hair-raising murders. In due course, Scudder and his wife become targets for this monster's killing spree. Not having any clue as to whom the killer is, or why he might be after the Scudders, the detective must use all his wits and skill to draw the killer out into the open.

All the Flowers Are Dying is a fast paced, story and Block expertly and unexpectedly ties Scudder's investigation of Thompson back to Applewhite and Bodinson. How Block tied these men together is not as unexpected as it is melodramatic. There are some intriguing twists and turns in this story, but for the most part Block purposely has scattered about a series of clues that provide hints as to who did what - and why. What you don't know is how Scudder will find out this information, and if he'll find it out before his own family is destroyed by this unpredictable serial killer. While Block lays a nice trail of clues for the reader to follow, he doesn't show all his cards, and you'll find an unexpected surprise at the end to remind you just why Block has been such a consistent, best-selling author!

A great read for fans of Matthew Scudder series and for anyone intrigued by dark suspense thrillers.

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