Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

  • Author:  Lawrence Block
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316127337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316127332

Product Description


"The Matthew Scudder novels are among the finest detective novels penned in this century."-Jonathan Kellerman

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. 

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.

My Review

A Drop of the Hard Stuff is the seventeenth novel in the Matthew Scudder series and is the first book that I have read in this series. It can also be read as a stand alone novel.  In fact this novel actually goes back in time to the 1980s to the days when detective Matthew Scudder was approaching his first anniversary of sobriety and living alone in a hotel in New York City.  This book has a heavy focus on the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the program itself.  The murder of an old friend of Jack's is directly related to that friend, Jack, religiously following the steps in the program.  Step 8, making amends and dredging up the past lead to the demise of Jack.  Greg, Jack's AA sponsor, hires Matt because he feels responsible as he is considered a step-Nazi in the AA program.  Greg believes that his encouragement to Jack to follow the steps is what has led to his death. 

This book is a great mystery and it is also an amazing chronicle of the reality of a alcoholic encountering their first anniversary of sobriety.  A real eye opener and a real winner.

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