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A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Matthew Scudder) Hardcover – May 12, 2011
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"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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Top customer reviews
In some ways, it has been like experiencing a time lapse movie of 35 years of New York history. Scudder’s character like the city itself has changed, grown, and reinvented itself many times over since he debuted in Sins of the Father in 1975.
I am glad this entry was written in 2011 because it is a much stronger effort than the preceding 2005 novel All the Flowers Are Dying. If the series ends here, it has ended on a high note. In fact, I would put A Drop of the Hard Stuff in the top 5 or 6 best of the series.
This novel contains a very short prologue set in the present day, but the bulk of the narrative takes place in the early 1980’s, just as Scudder was getting sober between the events of Eight Million Ways to Die and Out on the Cutting Edge. Scudder is approaching his 1 year sober anniversary when he meets a childhood friend High-Low Jack at an AA meeting.
Their lives have taken similar paths—Scudder became a slightly corrupt alcoholic police officer riddled with guilt over the accidental death of a child; Jack became a small-time crook with a drinking problem. Jack is now attempting to follow the 12 AA steps, but Step 9 proves to be trouble. His effort to make amends to everyone he wronged while drinking dredges up both painful memories and a grudge from an old accomplice who wants the past to stay forgotten.
High-Low Jack turns up dead, and Scudder finds himself confronting his own life choices, his still-raging addictions, and musing on how he (and the city around him) must grow and change to survive. It’s a powerful, compelling mystery and story of human nature at the brink of self-destruction.
4 and a half stars.
For the record, my Top 6 favorite Scudder novels are:
1. When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes (#6 in series)
2. Eight Million Ways to Die (#5)
3. The Devil Knows You’re Dead (#11)
4. Everybody Dies (#14)
5. A Long Line of Dead Men (#12)
6. A Drop of the Hard Stuff (#17)