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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Unlicensed PI Matthew Scudder returns after a three-year absence to investigate the murder of a wealthy couple savagely slain in their Manhattan townhouse. Matt's now 62, and his age shows in this relatively sedate outing. There's less violence than in many cases past, and the urban melancholy that pervaded his earlier tales has dissipated, replaced by a mature reckoning with the unending cycle of life and death. The mystery elements are strong. To the cops, the case is open-and-shut: the perps have been found dead, murder/suicide, in Brooklyn, with loot from the townhouse in their possession. Matt enters the scene when his assistant, TJ, introduces him to the cousin of the dead couple's daughter; the cousin suspects the daughter of having engineered the killings for the inheritance. At loose ends, Matt digs in, quickly rejecting the daughter as a suspect but uncovering evidence pointing to a mastermind behind the murders. Block sounds numerous obligatory notes from Scudder tales past the AA meetings, the tithing of Matt's income, cameo appearances by Matt's love interest, Elaine, and his friend, Irish mobster Mick Ballou and he adds texture with some familial drama involving Matt's sons and ex-wife. His prose is as smooth as aged whiskey, as always, and the story flows across its pages. It lacks the visceral edge and heightened emotion of many previous Scudders, however, and the ending seems patly aimed at a sequel. This is a solid mystery, a fine Block, but less than exceptional. (Nov.)Forecast: All Blocks sell and Scudder's return will do particularly well, especially with the attendant major ad/promo, including a 17-city author tour. Simultaneous Harper Audio and Harper large print edition.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

First brought to our attention 25 years ago, Matthew Scudder is back at work, investigating the particularly unpleasant murder of a wealthy West Side couple.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Abridged edition (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694526045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694526048
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,599,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lawrence Block and Robert Parker are two of my favorite mystery authors, and share many similarities. Their detectives, Matt Scudder and Spenser are 'fixers', rather than pure detectives or simple toughs. They share a taste for wise-cracks and dry wit, have similar relationships with women, and are men of action. Between the two authors, a whole genre exists that no one else has successfully invaded. I sometimes think of it as the tough guy noir cozy. Although that is a bit of an overstatement.
I do like Block's work a little better, though. Primarily because Matt Scudder is the stronger, more finely developed character. I find his progression from alcoholism to sobriety and his attitude about himself refreshing. He does not preach, but he tries his best to live according to his ethics, and succeeds for the most part. The characters that surround him also seem to be a bit more attractive because they reflect the same basic integrity. Block's stories also often have a darker more chilling coloration than Parker's, who sometimes puts more energy into caustic humor than into the plot itself. And sometimes Block's plots take unexpected and satisfying turns into new directions.
'Hope to Die' is such a case in point. When a married couple who happened to attend the same society event as Matt and Elaine Scudder are brutally murdered in a theft, Matt is intrigued. But the case is quickly solved when the thieves are found dead. One killed by the other, and the other a suicide, with the evidence in hand. But the couple's niece and daughter are not completely comfortable with the resolution, and so Scudder finds himself, and his sidekick T.J., drawn into an investigation into an apparently closed case.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hammermeister on October 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Block has long been my very favorite mystery writer, above James Lee Burke, James Crumley, Dennis Lehane and others on my list of faves. Block isn't the prose stylist that the aforementioned writers are, but he's far and away the most natural storyteller, with an uncanny gift for creating fascinating characters and sounds-like-real-people dialogue. Of all his creations (Burglar/Detective Bernie Rhodenbarr, ersatz spy Tanner, low-key hit man Keller), Block has always done his best work with his series of mysteries featuring the recovering alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder. All of which is to say that when a new Scudder mystery came out, I pounced on it like a lion taking down a gazelle. Sadly, by the time I finished "Hope to Die," I came away from the experience feeling a little disappointed. Scudder's search for a budding serial killer who murders a wealthy couple comes off feeling a little thin in the plot department. Scudder's first-person narrative is interspersed with chapters told from the killer's point of view and for the most part these chapters don't add much to the story. Take them out entirely and you can still easily follow what's happening, making these chapters appear superfluous. Of course, taking them out would have also made the book pretty darn short, too. On the plus side, it's always nice to drop in on Scudder's life and see what's going on with him. There's a great subplot involving the death of Scudder's ex-wife, finally allowing the reader a chance to meet his oft-mentioned but never seen estranged sons. The reader also gets a chance to catch up with Scudder's terrific cast of secondary characters--his wife Elaine, his streetwise helper TJ, Irish gangster Mick Ballou--characters who are always a lot of fun to read about.Read more ›
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Prago on October 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off, let me say that the Matt Scudder series are my favorite detective series here (8 Million Ways To Die and Walk Among the Tombstones tie for my all time favorite). So, when Lawrence Block came out with Hope To Die, I immediately snatched it up.
In the beginning of the book, I felt I was in classic Scudder territory. The elements were there. A double murder of an upper class family that appears to be an open and shut case, but of course it isn't. The personal drama of Scudder in that he is moving ahead with his life (with the support of AA, his wife Elaine, best friend Mick and sidekick/surrogate son TJ) but yet dealing with his past (in this case, his first wife has passed away and he has to reconcile with his sons).
However, midway through the book, Block abandons Scudder. The series up to Hope To Die has been written from Scudder's point of view, but now Block gives up chapters of just the killer and his point of view. He comes back to Scudder every now and then, but starts spending more time with the killer as the book progresses. The killer is given more vivid description and persona that by the end of the book, it becomes more his story than Scudder's. Block also diverts from the Scudder formula by having a "sequel" ending (something the series never had).
I will admit I was entertained with the "killer" chapters, but it also made me feel that Hope To Die was a mystery that didn't need Matt Scudder. Block could have sent Scudder home, the killer could have become the protagnoist and the book wouldn't have really lost anything. So while I was entertained by the book and enjoyed it as a quick, light read, I have to dock it a star down. You don't take a great detective character and put him in a story where he isn't needed.
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