However, the more I read of the series, the more I realize that it is, by itself, like a microcosm of Block's overall career. There are some truly great Scudder novels, a few less memorable ones, and a few really really bad ones (his most recent, A Time to Cast Stones being the absolute worst).
While I've read a lot of Block and a fair amount of Scudder, I haven't read the Scudder novels in order. This is from the early part of what I refer to as "old Scudder era," in which Scudder is becoming an old man (age-wise and in his own mind) the novels are more about Scudder worrying over his place in the universe than anything else, with the mysteries taking a backseat. This one, in fact, the mystery is fairly transparent to the point of being kind of boring.
Not that there's nothing to like in this novel, but it's far less interesting and enjoyable than what he was putting out in the mid-70s and early 80s. Most of his stuff from the 90s I've read seems to herald the end of the truly great storytelling Block is capable of in favor of this kind of overly introspective, and frankly, kind of self-indulgent, writing. It's true that Scudder has aged with Block, but some of these later books feel too much like non-fiction for my taste.
If you like truly excellent P.I. stories, however, you can't go wrong with Block's Scudder books from the beginning (Sins of the Fathers, 1976) to the mid-way point (A Walk Among the Tombstones, 1992. Also made into a film), and I highly recommend anything from the first half of the series.