The Night & The Music holds eleven Scudder short stories that cover a wide spectrum of his literary life. The first few tales take place while Matt was still sucking down bourbon and coffee while the latter bring us up to his marriage with Elaine as well as his friendship with Irish gangster Mick Ballou.
There’s a lot of great stuff in here, particularly a story that involves Scudder investigating the suspects of a robbery/murder titled By Dawn’s Early Light. It draws a lot of parallels to A Long Line of Dead Men, one of my personal favorites in the Scudder saga.
I found it pretty jarring to go back to Scudder’s beginnings. It goes to show just how much the character had grown over time. I’ve grown accustomed to Matt and Elaine living together as well as TJ popping up on occasion – both of which are elements missing from the first half of the book. Matt was just treading water in those early years, unsure of who or what he was supposed to be. Seeing him seemingly drift through life was like watching another person.
It goes without saying that “One Last Night at Grogan’s” is an important story that every fan of Block’s signature detective should seek out. While Block has on more than one occasion believed he was finished with Scudder, this one definitely gives you that feeling he’s content to put the series to bed.
The release of The Night & The Music is kind of like a best-selling musician releasing a compilation of their b-sides; those extra tracks that you wouldn’t find on a greatest hits album. That’s not to say they’re of lesser quality, they’re more for fans you would consider “completists”. After all, it’s nice to get all those “songs” in one easy-to-find “album”.