Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Matthew Scudder) [Hardcover]

I've finished "A Drop of the Hard Stuff" the 17th book in his Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block.

Product Description

Matthew Scudder is facing his demons. Forced out of the NYPD, he's given up the drink. He's thinking seriously about his relationship with sometime girlfriend Jan. Then he runs into "High-Low" Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx. They're two sides of the same coin: Scudder once solved crimes as a detective. Ellery committed them. In Scudder, Ellery sees the moral man he might have become. In Ellery, Scudder sees the hard-won sobriety he hopes to achieve.

Then Ellery is killed, shot once in the mouth and once between the eyes, presumably while attempting to atone for past sins. Is it what he saw or what he said that got him killed? Ellery had no family, no friends to press for justice. Scudder reluctantly begins his own investigation, with just one lead-Ellery's Alcoholics Annonymous list of people he wronged. One of them may be a murderer, but that's not necessarily Scudder's greatest danger. Immersing himself in Ellery's world may lead him right back to the bar stool.

Exploring themes of loss, nostalgia, and redemption, for Lawrence Block, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF circles back to how it all began, reestablishing why the Matthew Scudder series is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of American detective fiction.

Product Details
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (May 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316127337
ISBN-13: 978-0316127332

My Review:

Storyline:  Matt Scudder is an alcoholic, member of AA and a former cop 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 became a police officer while Jack turned to crime, mostly under the influence of alcohol. One day, the two bumped into one another at an AA meeting and chat about the old days.  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. As it turns out, this isn't a great idea!
Characters:  All the characters were well written from Scudder himself, to his girlfriend Jan to his AA sponsor Jim to even the suspects, etc.

Romance:  The romance between Jan and Scudder was very sweet and slow moving.  I had a feeling it wouldn't last too long.  I preferred his relationship to the waitress because they had more in common and understand each other.

Killer:  The killer believed he was righting a wrong done against them and would kill anyone that got in their way (even innocent people).  Didn't have any remorse and was pretty brutal in their killings and was like a ghost that no one saw or heard anything. 

The story was refreshing, well thought out plot with well written characters that were very interesting to read about.


Thanks Melanie from Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me this book to review, greatly appreciated!

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