Even the Wicked

A Matthew Scudder Crime Novel

Lawrence Block

For Bill Hoffman

With thanks to Joan Acocella,

Ron Brogan, andMemphis Jim Evans


1 On a Tuesday night in August I was sitting…

2 One newspaper column started the whole thing.

3 'I'll tell you,' he said, 'I just don't know what…

4 Elaine was still up when I got home, watching a…

5 The next day was Sunday, and I didn't have a…

6 Forty-eight hours later I'd made two more visits to the Horatio…

7 'It's like he saw it coming,' Kevin Dahlgren said.

8 The big news over the weekend had to do with…

9 'An Open Letter to the People ofNew York .'…

10 It took me awhile to get away from Marty McGraw.

11 'The first night I went to Whitfield's place,' I told Elaine.

12 Elaine was gone by the time I woke up.

13 It still didn't have to mean anything.

14 By the time we got out of there TJ was…

15 'It could have been murder,' I said, 'even if I…

16 The phone rang the next morning while we were having breakfast.

17 The letter had obviously been written after its author had….

18 The next couple of days were a three-ring circus for the media.

19 I couldn't do much in what was left of that afternoon.

20 I called Viaticom a few minutes after nine the next morning…

21 I stayed put over the weekend.

22 You'd have thought it was a social call.

23 It was a long night.

24 You could almost say he'd been asking for it.

25 'Well, look who's here,' he said.

26 SCUDDER: Please state your name for the record.

27 'You like irony,' I told Ray Gruliow.

Even the wicked get worse than they deserve.

—Willa Cather, One of Ours


On a Tuesday night in August I was sitting in the living room with TJ, watching two guys hit each other on one of the Spanish-language cable channels, and enjoying the fresh air more than the fight. A heat wave had punished the city for two weeks, finally breaking over the weekend. Since then we'd had three perfect days, with bright blue skies and low humidity and the temperature in the seventies. You'd have called it ideal weather anywhere; in the middle of a New York summer, you could only call it a miracle.

I'd spent the day taking advantage of the weather, walking around the city. I got home and showered in time to drop into a chair and let Peter Jennings explain the world to me. Elaine joined me for the first fifteen minutes, then went into the kitchen to start dinner. TJ dropped by just around the time she was adding the pasta to the boiling water, insisting that he wasn't hungry and couldn't stay long anyway.

Elaine, who had heard this song before, doubled the recipe on the spot, and TJ let himself be persuaded

to take a plate and clean it several times.

'Trouble is,' he told her, 'you too good of a cook. Now on, I wait to come by until mealtimes is come and gone.

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