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A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Matthew Scudder) Hardcover – May 12, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Matthew Scudder
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316127337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316127332
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A Great American Crime Novel ... good to the last drop. Totally gripping. The perfect introduction to Scudder's shadow-strewn world and the pleasures of Block's crisp yet brooding prose, [and] a bracing distillation of Block's powers."—Time

"Moving ... elegiac ... right up there with Mr. Block's best."—Wall Street Journal

"One of the finest in the entire Scudder series ... highly recommended."—Entertainment Weekly

"Sometimes you open a novel and you just know you're in the hands of a master. In the case of Lawrence Block's latest Matt Scudder mystery, the tipoff is a brazenly simple plot premise, faultlessly executed...Like a lot of great mystery fiction, A Drop of the Hard Stuff is also a ghost story. Matt's attempt to exorcise his phantoms results in a classic tale about the stubborn persistence of memory and regret."—NPR

"Block is a mesmerizing raconteur ... elegiac ... a lament for all the old familiar things that are now almost lost, almost forgotten."The New York Times Book Review

"Smart and cunning ... reminds us that the really good writers can make even familiar situations seem newfound and energized."—Tampa Tribune

"Intriguing. Strong characterization and great eye for atmospheric detail makes his latest effort a dark but enjoyable tale."—Lansing State Journal

"A satisfyingly adult story, with a believable number of false starts and lose ends, as it pays tribute to the power of persistence and acceptance."—Columbus Dispatch

"Genius...the prose, as always, is like the club soda Scudder sips in the opening pages: cool, fizzy, and completely refreshing."—Booklist , starred review

"Powerful...Block's pitch-perfect prose bolsters the elegiac plot. Accessible to first-timers, this book should add many more fans to the author's considerable following."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lonesome, wintry, and compassionate . . . guaranteed to get under your skin."—Kirkus Reviews

"Pensive and philosophical, at times bleak, and at others surprisingly warm and human ... as rich and rewarding as it is devastating ... if you haven't read any of the Scudder books yet, this might be the perfect way to introduce yourself to one of crime fiction's most enduring characters."—www.PulpSerenade.com

"Hypnotic. You don't realize you're being sucked in until - BANG! - the plot thickens and suddenly you can't put it down. Another solid entry in the in one of mystery's most reliable series."—www.SpinetinglerMag.com

"There is really only one writer of mystery and detective fiction who comes close to replacing the irreplaceable John D. MacDonald ...The writer is Lawrence Block."—Stephen King

About the Author

Lawrence Block is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, has won multiple Edgar and Shamus awards and countless international prizes. The author of more than 50 books, he lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

With that said, this one left me feeling sad and a little bored.
Lisa Baker
The story is fresh, plot a mysterious as any other and the characters well written and completely mesmerizing.
Mary J. Gramlich
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the entire Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block.
Rabid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder is a detective with a difference. A former NYPD cop whose life spun out of control as a result of alcoholism, he found his way back to the world in two ways, Alcoholics Anonymous and a new job as a private eye. A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, Block's first Scudder book in several years, is actually a long flashback to the difficult time Matt faced right after he joined AA. A childhood acquaintance he meets in "the rooms" is murdered, and Matt sets out to find the killer. Along the way, we get a colorful portrait gallery of people you could only find in New York, a clear explanation of AA and its famous 12 Step program, and vivid descriptions of the mean streets and dark places where the fallen angels hang out.

I love this series. I've been a fan ever since I read Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder Mysteries), the book in which Matt first decided to turn his life around. This guy is an inspiration, and A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF is a powerful, beautifully written detective story. Highly recommended.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Gramlich VINE VOICE on May 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you are a follower of the Matthew Scudder books you know this series has gone from pay phones to cell phones with every book better than the last. We fans have followed Matt from his cop's days, watched him give up the bottle and find a place in his life with Elaine and his freelance PI work. But the past is always lurking around and there are nights when retelling a part of your past life tends to help make amends with what was.

Mr. Block takes us back to the early days in the Scudder series with this book. We have Matt off the force, a month short of his one-year anniversary with sobriety and doing enough favors for friends to pay the rent and send a little home to his ex-wife. During this time Matt reconnects with a childhood acquaintance that is also walking through each of the steps to alcoholic free life. Matthew is not one to follow each step in order but his friend is on a mission to follow them one after another. To that end it seems one of the steps he took did not please someone from his checkered past and he winds up murdered. Matt is asked to look into this and do the best job he can to find out what was so awful that someone left a message in the way he was killed.

The more Matt delves into his friend's prior life the more doors are slammed in his face than opened. Every person that should have held a grudge has long since gotten over it and the others are still in prison. Yet more people end of dead and possibly murdered and while they appear random Matt is not buying the police line of wrong place, wrong time. Matt keeps looking and getting too close to the right person at the right time that they target him in the one way they can get to him - through the bottle sitting on his table.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Baker VINE VOICE on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow, it hurts me to say this but this is not the book I was expecting. First, I want to point out that Lawrence Block is one of my top favorite authors. With that said, this one left me feeling sad and a little bored. All the cast of characters are there,but it is so flat and such a slow mover I honestly had a hard time getting through it. There are very few authors that I will pay full price (kindle) for a book when it comes out, however, he is one of them. Good things about this book-I guess everything I have wanted to know about AA is in here, Cons- Same. Page after page of meetings, and more meetings and then even more meetings. I did like that he finally broke up with Jan, but it seemed that the entire plot was over a conversation and not even a good one at that. Sadly, I would not recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone who hasn't read this author before. He is too good to ignore, perhaps he was fighting his own inner demons when he wrote this. I gave it 3 stars because I respect and love his other work. Not much more to say, but I dont understand how others could have given it a better rating.
Final 3 stars and that is pushing it. And, for all of you newbies to Lawrence Block PLEASE read everything he has done, he is a master, just fell down with this one.
Ps I am in the minority on this review, as it seems everyone in the world, including the book reviewers loved it. If you have a Kindle
download the sample it gives you a good idea how the book will flow.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Block's "A Drop of the Hard Stuff" is an understated story that goes down as smoothly as a fine single malt Scotch. Matt Scudder, an alcoholic, member of AA, and former cop, is sitting in a saloon in Hell's Kitchen with his old pal, Mick Ballou. While nursing his club soda, Matt reminisces about events that occurred twenty-five years ago, when he was in his mid-forties--just before his first anniversary as a non-drinker.

Scudder tells Mick a lengthy tale about a boyhood acquaintance from the Bronx, Jack Ellery. While Matt grew up to be a police officer, Jack turned to crime, mostly under the influence of alcohol. One day, the two bump into one another at an AA meeting and chat about the old days. (If we didn't know by now how hard it is for an alcoholic to stay dry, Block sets us straight.) Jack, who has been in prison for armed robbery, is working his way through AA's twelve step program. He is determined to find the people he has wronged and make amends. Not a great idea, as it turns out.

"A Drop of the Hard Stuff" is suspenseful, darkly humorous, philosophical, a tad cynical, and psychologically astute. The author's writing style is relaxed and unpretentious, and the plot is skillfully constructed and absorbing. Since there was no Internet at that time, Scudder gets his information by pounding pavements, consulting snitches, and picking the brains of his contacts at the NYPD. Among the well-drawn characters are: Jan Keane, Matt's steady girlfriend, who is growing dissatisfied with their informal arrangement; Jim Faber, Scudder's wise and supportive AA sponsor; and a list of suspects whom Matt doggedly tracks down. As the weeks pass and dead bodies steadily pile up, the case becomes personal. Scudder has his hands full trying to outsmart a clever and elusive killer. To his credit, Block avoids a tidy resolution. Instead, he embraces life as it is: messy, unpredictable, challenging, and often infuriatingly unfair.
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