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A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Matthew Scudder Mysteries Book 17) [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence Block
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $6.11 (41%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

"Right up there with Mr. Block's best....A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF keeps us guessing."--Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

Facing his demons in his first year of sobriety, Matthew Scudder finds himself on the trail of a killer. When Scudder's childhood friend Jack Ellery is murdered, presumably while attempting to atone for past sins, Scudder reluctantly begins his own investigation, with just one lead: Ellery's Alcoholics Anonymous list of people he wronged. One of them may be a killer, but that's not necessarily Scudder's greatest danger. Immersing himself in Ellery's world may lead him right back to the bar stool.

In a novel widely celebrated by critics and readers, Lawrence Block circle back to how it all began, reestablishing the Matthew Scudder series as one of the pinnacles of American detective fiction.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Totally gripping....A great American crime novel."—Ed Park, Time

"Block has so perfected a pared-down, hard-boiled style that this story--about good intentions that backfire, fatally--seems to tell itself."—Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post

Mesmerizing....A lament for all the old familiar things that are now almost lost, almost forgotten."—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

"A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF is a wise and fascinating addition to the Matthew Scudder cannon. It could not be more welcome, nor could it have been written with more understated craftsmanship. The dialogue sounds exactly like things people say to each other, but it isn't. It's better, quicker, smarter. Read this book attentively. It's much more fun than taking lessons."—Thomas Perry

Review

(Matt Scudder) is a superbly drawn, sympathetic character, but there's another reason for reading Scudder novels: no one does New York better than Lawrence Block. -- Marcel Berlins THE TIMES It goes without saying that Block's writing and plotting are as scintillatingly well-crafted as ever. -- Mat Coward MORNING STAR Fast, hard-boiled American noir. SAGA MAGAZINE

Product Details

  • File Size: 703 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1409124819
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047Y178O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,703 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 Steps To Murder 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
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Scudder you stuttered on this one. 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.
Lisa.
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
5.0 out of 5 stars "Somebody wanted to shut him up." 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
This book was not up to the standards of previous Lawrence Block books I have read.
Published 18 days ago by Sonny
1.0 out of 5 stars So Disappointed
It went like this: AA story, Di Dah Di Dah Di Dah; AA philosophy, Di Dah Di Dah Di Dah; AA meeting, Di Dah... Well you get the point. Read more
Published 1 month ago by TheNewyorker
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissatisfaction is the mother of...
... this review. Near the end of this novel, Matt has a conversation with his sponsor, Jim, in which he decides that the impetus for human progress and invention isn't necessity,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by L. H. White Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Block
almost took a 'pass' on buying this latest Matt Scudder novel thanks to a review I accidentally read in which the writer complained about "too much AA stuff" or the like. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Don Le Couteur
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Didn't know it was short stories mostly written years ago.
Published 1 month ago by Polly C. Calhoun
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great Matthew Scudder book. Unfortunately the last .....at least for now.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard stuff to read
I've read 10+ books by Block while recovering from an illness. This one was painful. Slow moving and boring right to the end. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Hoogie
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting concept of Matthew Scudder going back in his history to tell a story.
Published 2 months ago by Myra Breckinridge
3.0 out of 5 stars it is not one of the best of the bookd of Scudder serie
it is not one of the best of the bookd of Scudder serie: deja vu and no thrilling at all
Published 2 months ago by Vera L. Niida
4.0 out of 5 stars Matt sober!
I enjoyed it, although there was too much AA talk since Matt is sober, a lot I was unable to relate to.
Published 4 months ago by Katherine
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