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Don't Ever Get Old (Buck Schatz Series) Hardcover – May 22, 2012

124 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Buck Schatz Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The title of this knockout of a book is misleading. Ninetyish, retired Memphis homicide cop Buck Schatz makes coot-dom look like a riot. Buck is an abrasive old party with not an ounce of codger cuteness. He has trouble remembering; his skin has grown papery; he can’t push his lawn mower anymore. But his cop’s watchfulness is intact. He keeps his .375 Magnum close by. He’s a death-camp survivor—his real name is Baruch—and right off, he learns that the sadistic guard who brutalized him is likely still alive and the possessor of much stolen Nazi gold. To honor the Nazi’s victims and maybe grab the gold, Buck and his chatterbox grandson go on a quest. But who are these people who suddenly come out of the woodwork—a loan shark, a scholar, a pretty Israeli soldier? And why does everyone start dying? In prose as straightforward and tough as old Buck, the plot reveals its secrets with perfect timing. It’s a shock when the killer’s identity is revealed. But, then, we think eventually, who else could it be? --Don Crinklaw


Once you start reading this wonderfully original and totally engrossing story, you'll do what I did: keep reading . . . When I'm 87, I want to be Buck Schatz. (Nelson DeMille)

Friedman's excellent debut introduces a highly unusual hero, 87-year-old, politically incorrect Buck Schatz, a former member of the Memphis PD, who's become a living legend...Friedman makes his limited lead plausible, and bolsters the story line with wickedly funny dialogue. (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

Knockout of a book. (Booklist (starred review))

A sardonically appealing debut. (Kirkus (starred review))

Short chapters, crackling dialogue, and memorable characters make this a standout debut. Evokes Elmore Leonard. (Library Journal (starred))

Getting old isn't fun, but reading about Buck coping with it and a slew of dirty deeds -- and possibly fatal adversaries -- is. (Associated Press)

It's a pitch-perfect debut novel, expertly balancing comedy, gritty crime drama, absurdity, and genuine poignancy. It's also one of the most assured debuts in some time... Highly recommended (Mystery Scene)

Friedman's debut novel is one of the most original and entertaining tales I have read in many a moon...Don't Ever Get Old is just about as good as debut mysteries get. (Bruce Tierney, Bookpage)

Buck transcends masculinity in favor of manliness... If you don't like this book, there's something wrong with you. (Douglas Lord, "Books For Dudes" columnist for Library Journal)

Daniel Friedman is the Jewish Elmore Leonard. Friedman is a master storyteller who can speed your heart up and stop it on a dime. (Andrew Shaffer,

Laugh-out-loud funny as well as surprisingly poignant. Kudos to Daniel Friedman for giving us a nearly ninety-year-old hero who's not going gently into that good night--he's going out with guns blazing, F-bombs flying and a pack of Lucky Strikes. (Lisa Brackmann, author of Rock Paper Tiger)

We have nothing to fear from aging, if Don't Ever Get Old is any measure. By turns gritty and snappy, Friedman's clever debut novel is like an epilogue to 'Inglorious Basterds,' sixty-six years later. (Alma Katsu, author of The Taker)

If you read one book this year about the adventures of an eighty-eight-year-old Jewish retired cop and his frat-boy grandson, it had better be Daniel Friedman's Don't Ever Get Old. Friedman creates a colorful cast of oddball characters and sends them on a quest to recover a stash of Nazi gold. The result is a twisty, funny, fast-paced treat. (Harry Dolan, author of Bad Things Happen)

In this crackling debut, Dan Friedman paints a pitch-perfect portrait of crusty, gun-toting, octogenarian Jewish ex-cop Baruch "Buck" Schatz as he searches for Nazi gold. Funny, suspenseful, and poignant, Don't Ever Get Old will stick with you long after you've turned the last page. If you love a great story well-told, put Friedman high on your list of 'must reads.' (Alan Orloff, Agatha Award-nominated author of Killer Routine)

Product Details

  • Series: Buck Schatz Series (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312606931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312606930
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's a toss-up which is the bigger charmer, Daniel Friedman's debut novel, Don't Ever Get Old, or the novel's protagonist, 87-year-old Baruch "Buck" Schatz. Buck is not a cute, little old Jewish man. Actually, the character that most comes to mind when describing Buck is Clint Eastwood's recent turn in the film Grand Torino. He's a tough, mean old dude! Buck was a homicide cop for 30 years and he's got a pretty gruff exterior. Plus, he's not one to sugar-coat his words. "I was grumpy more for sport than out of necessity. I married the greatest lady I ever met, and I had a distinguished career with the department and retired to a detective's pension. Ideally, I wouldn't have had to see my son die, but getting old meant outlasting things that ought to have been permanent."

The novel opens with this sentence, "In retrospect, it would have been better if my wife had let me stay home to see Meet the Press instead of making me schlep across town to watch Jim Wallace die." Buck and Wallace go all the way back to WWII, but Buck never much liked the man. He can't figure out why the dying man is even asking for him. The last thing he expected was a deathbed confession: "I saw Ziegler." Not only did Wallace see the SS officer who ran the POW camp they were held at back in '44, he allowed him to escape Germany with a fortune in stolen gold. Wallace allowed himself to be bought off to look the other way.

Now, 60-some years later, he's confessing, but Buck isn't in a forgiving mood. As one of the few Jews in the POW camp, Ziegler beat him nearly to death. That's not something Buck will ever forgive and forget either, but after all these years, he's neither inclined nor equipped to pursue the matter.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sugar Daddy on June 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm always looking for engrossing books that can transport me from the everyday grind to a world of excitement, mystery, and intrigue. "Don't Ever Get Old" delivers! I have been an avid reader of Lee Child's books for years, being a huge fan of Jack Reacher's. Well, move over Lee Child, meet Daniel Friedman!

The story is nothing short of compelling, with the lead character and narrator, as interesting as any I've ever met. Buck Schatz shows the thoughtful poise and cold calculating intellect of a highly decorated, retired, 87-year old police detective; wrapped up in a hard, war-torn, gruff exterior. It's hard to not respect Buck's honesty and love his humor. I can't wait to see what he'll say next!

Friedman masterfully weaves a tale that will not allow you to put this book down. He gives us short, action-packed chapters, that continually call out to "read one more!"

The only complaint I have with Friedman; upon finishing "Don't Ever Get Old" I'll have to wait for the his next book to get more!

FIVE emphatic stars!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nils Kelly on June 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Having the protagonist be 87 years old, still a wisenheimer, no matter what the plot or genre is, is by itself clever enough to warrant praise. If you still want to use those who directly observed WW II in a story these days you are limited to working with the extreme elderly, so plots tend to converge. Coincidentally I just saw "The Debt", a movie whose tone is different but that involves a similar search, and which concludes in a very similar way.

Once the novelty sinks in we are carried along by the plot, which is not as interesting as the main character. None of the other characters stood out. Even granted the inherent implausibility, the result is no surprise as suspect after suspect is ruled out.

The carnage of the murders was completely gratuitous. What was the point? The killer supposedly had special knowledge in this area, but why? The story would have been the same without it. Which is the meaning of "gratuitous", of course, so I guess I'm belaboring the point. Still, ugh, no need.

With only 20 or pages to go, the bad guy must be the only remaining character. Since the final scene was by necessity implausible anyway, Rose the wife might as well have saved the day with a cartoon bonk to the head with a frying pan.

All in all a clever idea, and a good feisty main character. It's funny to read the glowing editorial reviews. Of course logrolling is part of the business, but "laugh out loud" funny?
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jim Wallace is dying at the MED geriatric ICU. He asks octogenarian Buck Schatz to visit him though they were not friends even when they were incarcerated in a POW camp back in `44. Buck's wife of over six decades Rose makes him honor the dying man's request. Because he cannot drive that far, Jim's daughter Emily Feely takes him.

Wallace tells him he saw camp commandant SS officer Heinrich Ziegler in France in 1946. Schatz hated Ziegler who abused him for being Jewish and looked for the SOB after the war, but learned the Russians killed the Nazi. However, Wallace says he accepted a gold bar to let the man go. He begs Buck to forgive him, but instead Schatz tells him to enjoy hell; Wallace dies immediately before Buck leaves.

Buck plans to return to daytime TV, but apparently Emily, her husband Norris, and a horde of others know what Wallace told Buck and assume he will go after the Nazi and the gold. As those with an interest begin to die, Buck decides he better get involved before someone comes after him or Rose; he drafts his NYU law student grandson Billy to help him find Ziegler.

Mindful of Mike Befeler's octogenarian Paul Jacobson Geezer-mysteries (see Retirement Homes Are Murder); this is a terrific geriatric noir. The key is the protagonist suffers from memory loss and a ton of physical ailments but retains his witty sense of humor as he and his sidekick end in one jam after another. Fast-paced Daniel Friedman makes a strong case that revenge may be a dish served cold but it is still served even after six decades of being dormant.

Harriet Klausner
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