A Walk Among the Tombstones Summary
by Lawrence Block

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A Walk Among the Tombstones

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Matt Scudder did a tour with the police department and ended up with a broken marriage and a problem with alcohol. It’s a familiar tale; the police are compelled to concern themselves with the human animal in its most disgusting form, and not surprisingly the emotional drain takes its toll on the physical and psychic health of the individuals involved. Scudder thought to avoid the alcoholism and the constant assault on his sensibilities by leaving the police, but such was not to be the case. As a private avenger of injustice Scudder finds himself exposed to corruption and depravity in its most virulent form.

Scudder is reminded of this aspect of his life when he is contacted by Kenan Khoury. Khoury, a Lebanese drug dealer, attempted to haggle with his wife’s kidnappers over the price for her return, only to have her contemptuously returned in pieces. Scudder is hired to locate the miscreants and in the process discovers that Francine Khoury is not the first victim of what appears to be a duo of serial killers. Scudder’s quest for information concerning the identity of Mrs. Khoury’s killers takes on a new urgency when they strike again, this time abducting the fourteen-year-old daughter of another drug dealer. Scudder must devise a method of recovering the young woman alive and, if possible, determine how to extract at least a measure of justice.

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES is a terrifying look at the dark side of humanity. Still, Lawrence Block does manage to divert the reader with a sensitive portrait of the evolving relationship between Scudder and a call-girl acquaintance who is increasingly important to his existence.