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Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder) Mass Market Paperback – July 30, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Matthew Scudder (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (July 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380715732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380715732
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

From AudioFile

In this hard-boiled detective novel, a hooker hires P.I. Matthew Scudder to convince her pimp to let her leave "the life." Scudder, himself a recovering alcoholic and sardonic observer, tells of her subsequent murder and the investigation that nearly costs him his life. The author's gifts lie more in writing, which he accomplishes with aplomb, than narrating, which he accomplishes with a high baritone that quavers as if he could break out weeping any moment. But he never does. In fact, once you get used to him, he's pretty entertaining. A nerdy sort of tough shamus. By the end of the last tape, you can't imagine anyone else impersonating Scudder. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book changed my entire perception of alcoholism.
Blue Jade
I love Lawrence Block's writing and am particularly fond of The Matthew Scudder series.
Zelda Barnard
For the mystery fans out there, I highly recommend it.
Elizabeth Jean Allen, The Weekend Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Gary Jonas on May 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the book that really set the standard for the Scudder series. It's the fifth Scudder adventure and it opens with Matt just out of the hospital after a major drinking binge. He is hired by a prostitute who wants out of the business, so he tracks down her pimp, Chance. No problem, Chance says. She can get out, but she could have saved herself some money and skipped the middleman.
Everything looks great, but then the prostitute is murdered. Scudder, of course, assumes that Chance is the killer, so he calls in a tip to the police. Next thing you know, Chance is out and he's looking for Matt.
This book is the first to really show Matt's struggle with alcohol. He starts attending AA meetings, but still doesn't see himself as an alcoholic.
Normally, by the fifth book, a series begins to run out of steam. With Matt Scudder, though, the series is just beginning to find its legs.
The mystery is fair play, but if you figure out how it all ties together before Matt, you're a more astute reader than I am. All of the characters are well-drawn and fully realized. Block is a true master and this is a masterpiece!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on February 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Eight Million Ways to Die" is a classic piece of hardboiled detective fiction that represents a turning point in the life of its hero, Matthew Scudder. Early on in the narrative, Scudder is told frankly by a young doctor after a two-day alcohol blackout, "if you drink, you'll die." Scared by the warning, Scudder takes a case he doesn't want in a despearte attempt to distract him from alcohol. His struggles with the bottle come across very real and are harrowing to behold. The case is a good one as well with Scudder attempting to track the manaical killer of a hooker who was trying to leave the life. Death is an ever constant theme, with the book's title being a riff on the old literary saying "there are eight million stories in the naked city."
This book is everything great private detective fiction should be; dark, cynical, violent and lonely. Frankly, I like Scudder better during this period than later on after he sobers up. If you agree, you'll love this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Derek Grimmell on January 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The mystery is pretty good in itself, but what sets this book and all of Block's books apart is the vivid world in which it takes place. Block has John D. MacDonald's gift for dialogue matched with Charles Dickens' ability to develop characters, wrapped in a noir sensibility that creates an unforgettable reading experience. Block's portrayal of the standard hard-drinking detective as he struggles with the decision to become sober is particularly poignant. I have given away several copies of this book, and so far every person I gave it to has read most or all of the Matt Scudder series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harold L. Laroff on December 2, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
. Matthew Scudder is Lawrence Block's remarkable private investigator. He's a former NYPD detective who left the force after an accident left a child dead in a crossfire. Because he is unlicensed you can't "hire" him. Instead he does you a favor by taking your case and solving the crime. In exchange for the favor the client returns the favor by giving him some cash. Scudder is an alcoholic. Rarely do you find him without a drink in has hand or at one of has favorite watering holes. In "Eight Million Ways to Die,' Scudder has begin to realize being under the influence is not in his best interests. He has already begun to attend AA meetings and is trying very hard not to dunk. He isn't always successful, but at least he is trying. A prostitute, Kim, comes to Matt because she wants to get out of the life. She asks him to find and speak to Chance, her pimp. Matt does and Chance agrees to let Kim off the hook. However Kim is found dead, slashed to death. Chance, of corurse, is the prime suspect. He says he didn't do it and hires Scudder to prove his innocence. In Scudder's search for Kim's killer another prostitute is found dead, this time an apparent suicide. Chance is also a collector of African art. Many pieces adorn the walls of "his girls." Although his business is to promote young women we can't help not liking him. Block's knowledge of New York City makes this and his other novels in the series more interesting to a reader who can actually visualize where he is while reading. I could not find "Eight Million Ways to Die," in our library system and because it has been out of print for sometime equally difficult locating a copy in bookstores.Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's 2008, and it's the 25th anniversary of the Lawrence Block's Eight Million Ways to Die. So let's put out a celebratory edition! I've never read a Block book, so I'm not sure why this particular book warrants a re-issue in a special hardcover, but it does mark a significant milestone in Matt Scudder's career, so maybe that's why. This handsome hardcover also includes an afterword by Block, so fans of the Scudder series may want to pick this up to at least read that. For non-fans of the series, you can pick it up because it's a very good book.

If you're like me, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that Eight Million Ways to Die was written back in 1983. I kept asking why the characters didn't use cell phones until I remembered. Also, the image of New York as a crime-infested city kept jarring with the way it is now. The title of the book is said by a cynical cop who claims that there are eight million ways to die in New York. While there are probably still quite a few, I don't think there are that many any more.

Block does immerse you in the seedy atmosphere of the New York of 1983, though. His imagery is quite stark, and he constantly has Scudder reading the newspaper, pulling out headlines and news stories about how certain innocent people were killed, and commenting on how these will quickly get relegated to the back pages as something even more monstrous hits the front page. This atmosphere constantly weighs Scudder (and the reader) down, but at least the reader can put the book down if it gets too oppressive. What can Scudder do?

Scudder is an extremely interesting character, and evidently one who changes throughout his series of books. His alcoholism has been a constant presence in previous books, and this is the one where it comes to a head.
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