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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 (227 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.74
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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


"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


(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: 1051 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • 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: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,224 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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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
By Tom S.
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
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.
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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Good "lookback" story covering Scudder as he nears 1 year sober
Liked how Scudder's recovery & AA journey interwoven throughout the story. Good "lookback" story covering Scudder as he nears 1 year sober
Published 2 days ago by HJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but not great
I am a huge Scudder fan, but ...this one os not my favorite
Published 18 days ago by Thomas B Hight
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for my husband. He loves the author!
Published 27 days ago by NM
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not his strongest effort, but still filled with enjoyable characters.
Published 2 months ago by MB
3.0 out of 5 stars Too gritty for my taste, but that's just me
This was a very good attempt at conveying the gritty feel of the old Raymond Chandlers and others of his ilk. Read more
Published 3 months ago by L. Premo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good shape
Published 3 months ago by don harmon
5.0 out of 5 stars A drop of the good stuff
Worth reading
Well written
Interesting characters
Informative in regards to alcoholism and AA
Kept me interested enough to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by sandy ankiewicz
5.0 out of 5 stars I hope Scudder never dies
I could read Matt Scudder's stories forever. I can't seem to put the books down. Block's style of writing is as addicting to me as whiskey is to Matt.
Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Long, boring, ugh
Maybe another alcoholic would get more out of this.
Published 3 months ago by Soldier Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 4 months ago by Cheryl S.
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