❮Read❯ ➵ A Drop of the Hard Stuff Author Lawrence Block – Lectinshield.co.uk

A Drop of the Hard Stuff pdf A Drop of the Hard Stuff, ebook A Drop of the Hard Stuff, epub A Drop of the Hard Stuff, doc A Drop of the Hard Stuff, e-pub A Drop of the Hard Stuff, A Drop of the Hard Stuff b4a1ecc6170 Facing His Demons In His First Year Of Sobriety, Matthew Scudder Finds Himself On The Trail Of A Killer When Scudder S Childhood Friend Jack Ellery Is Murdered, Presumably While Attempting To Atone For Past Sins, Scudder Reluctantly Begins His Own Investigation, With Just One Lead Ellery S Alcoholics Anonymous List Of People He Wronged One Of Them May Be A Killer, But That S Not Necessarily Scudder S Greatest Danger Immersing Himself In Ellery S World May Lead Him Right Back To The Bar StoolIn A Novel Widely Celebrated By Critics And Readers, Lawrence Block Circle Back To How It All Began, Reestablishing The Matthew Scudder Series As One Of The Pinnacles Of American Detective Fiction

10 thoughts on “A Drop of the Hard Stuff

  1. says:

    This last book in the Matt Scudder series, published in 2011 when Block was seventy, harks back to events in Scudder s life that happened almost thirty years before, in Matts first year as a recovering alcoholic. It contains much of the vigor of his earlier work and will be if Block chooses to end things here a fine conclusions to a superior series.This is a frame story I have always liked frame stories , told by Matt himself to his old friend Mick Ballou during one of their frequent all night sessions at Ballou s bar Grogans of fellowship and craic It is the story of High Low Jack Ellery, a boy from Matt s old neighborhood, who pursued a life of crime during the years when Matt worked on the police force Years later, Matt encounters Jack at an AA meeting, and is surprised soon after to hear that Jack has been murdered After the memorial service, Jack s sponsor wants to hire him to investigate he is a step Nazi, the AA sponsor explains, and he fears Jack was killed while scrupulously attempting to complete AA s Ninth Step trying to make amends So Matt begins to interview people whom Jack has harmed in his thieving, dishonest life, and before long you guessed it some of them end up dead.This is a somber tale, but it is meditative and nostalgic too, lacking the jagged edge that characterizes some of Scudders last adventures I am glad Block gave us this last yarn, and I will miss those nights with Matt and Mick in the backroom of Grogan s bar.

  2. says:

    It s high time I started on book one in Lawrence Block s Matthew Scudder series, because I am LOVING what I m reading so far Scudder is a once cop, once private investigator cum investigator just seems to depend on the day and his finances who s battling alcoholism view spoiler An old school friend crook he s been recently reacquainted with is trying to get his life in order when he gets done in hide spoiler

  3. says:

    Sometimes nostalgia is a boozy, teary drunk, blathering on about loss, other drunken times, other bottles And sometimes, it s a fine stroll down memory lane, leafing through a photo album of your friends and that one perfect summer, a glass of wine in your hand Block nails it here in the currently last of the Matt Scudder series, walking the fine line between fond remembrance and maudlin He and Mick are closing the pub, Mick with his whiskey, Scudder with his club soda Looking back, Mick wonders, could you have gone the other way What follows is a well done tale, set during the time Scudder was off the force and doing favors out of his hotel residence, and working hard to stay sober, one day at a time It begins with Jack Ellery, an old boyhood chum appearing at an AA meeting I knew him at a glance He looked older than he had on the other side of the one way glass, and there was in his face than the years alone could account for There s no charge for the seats in an AA room, but that s because you pay for them in advance Jack went the other way until he did time and finally gave up the booze He s working the steps, and is wrestling with Step 9, Make Direct Amends to People whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others Trouble is, when you ve led a life of crime, some of those you ve injured might react quite badly to your confessional The story is as much Scudder s as Jack s, and it s pure reading pleasure as Scudder recounts their wrestling with the AA steps One of the most interesting parts of Scudder s characterization is his relationship with alcohol Block has almost always avoided the opportunity to have Scudder wallow in self pity, and instead captures his somewhat resigned determination to stay sober This time, Block also touches on his anger Jack knows early sobriety s a challenge, and is a little unsure about getting in touch with Scudder around his 90 day sobriety mark I was a little anxious about calling, he said, because I figured you d make it, but you never know, do you And how would you feel if you had a slip and here s this asshole calling to congratulate you on ninety days that you haven t got And I said this to my sponsor, and he reminded me I m not the center of the universe, which never fails to be news to me Things progress insert plot spoilers here and we get a chance to watch Scudder investigate as well as negotiate some of the troubles in his own life The mystery was satisfying, and Block maintains a nice balance between Scudder s issues and those of the investigation Characterization shines as usual, particularly Greg Stillman, Jack s AA sponsor, and Scooter Williams, pothead and moving man His voice trailed off, and I could see him running the question in his mind He looked to be capable of devoting the next hour to its philosophical implications Jan and Jim figure prominently in Scudder s life as he comes up on a year of sobriety and reflects on the advice not to make any major changes within the year after quitting.There s a little bit of wry, gentle humor here, all the poignant for the melancholy and grief threaded through it The detective in charge of Jack s case is doubtful of his potential for success So I d like to clear it, he said, because it s on my plate, and my mother raised me to finish everything He patted his stomach A lesson I learned all too well But on the dinner plate of crime, my friend, Jack Ellery is the Brussels sprouts I had to laugh at a funny running joke about the word sobriquet, first started by Danny Boy and carried on by Scudder It s the kind of word game I would indulge in, and I just love that Block does it as well Scudder also shares a similar feeling about a particular flavor of soda pop We drank our orange sodas out of the can I couldn t remember the last time I d had one, and decided I was willing to go that long before I had another Then there was a laugh out loud at a New Yorker dig I can t, I said I have to go to Brooklyn Really Were you a bad boy Are you being punished Overall, a fabulous read, the best kind of nostalgia where you reflect with a friend and discover something new, something that highlights just a little bit about their personality and life story, and makes you feel lucky you had the opportunity to share.Cross posted at

  4. says:

    A friend of Matt Scudder s from AA winds up dead and it looks as if someone he named in his eight step is the murderer Scudder takes the case for a cool grand and begins working the people on the list Only the killer isn t take things lying down Will Matt make it to one year sobriety You know, every time I read one of Lawrence Block s Matthew Scudder books, I feel as if I ve entered a metaphorical genital measuring contest with the esteemed Mr Block I unzip my pants to reveal that I ve read the entire Scudder series and a couple hundred other mystery books besides and have a pretty good head for sleuthing and Block takes his out and shames me with 50 years of misdirecting guys like me Like a lot of the Scudder books, Block hides the killer in plain sight and dares you to figure out the mystery before Matt Yeah, old Lawrence got me again.A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a flashback tale akin to When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes Matt and Mick Ballou are talking late into the night and Matt brings up a case from the early days Block did a good job with his references, from the double bladed disposable razor to the mysterious disease afflicting gay men It was fantastic seeing old supporting cast members like Jan, Jim, and Danny Boy Bell The case itself was vintage Scudder Block crafted a nice cast of losers and douche bags for Matt to interact with Like I said before, I had no idea who the killer was until Matt figured it out I d say that s the mark of an exceptional mystery.Matt s personal life and continued struggle with sobriety were center stage in A Drop of the Hard Stuff, much like they would be for many books to come Matt Scudder continues to be one of my favorite characters in all of crime fiction.Any gripes Yeah, I wasn t that thrilled with the ending I didn t like how things were resolved between Matt and the killer Other than that, I don t have a single complaint.For Scudder fans of old, this is a must read It lives up to its predecessors and you won t be disappointed.

  5. says:

    There s a lot of good stories in the world, and that s a very good one, Mick said.Hard Stuff, the 17th and final full length novel in the Matthew Scudder detective series by Lawrence Block, is a frame story, or a story within a story Or many stories within a story within a story, technically Matt and Mick have one of their late night, into early morning storytelling sessions they are ex cop and ex criminal, the best of friends, now older men, in their sixties, but they do what they always do on these occasions, they tell each other stories Neither are really religious, but Mick is Catholic, regularly goes to Mass, and Matt has AA both groups require confessional stories, so they are used to this, and besides, they re old friends.Matt tells a story of a childhood friend, Jack, who turned to crime as he turned to cop, not unlike the contrast between he and Mick Matt meets Jack at AA, and he catches up on the past just at the point that Jack is trying to make amends one of the steps in AA s 12 step process Jack apologizes to all those he screwed over, and offers ways to make it up to those he has offended Many are also screw ups, fellow criminals, and tell him to let it go, but one guy beats him up Another is happy when, at some point in the process, he hears someone has killed Jack, whereupon Jack s sponsor hires Matt to figure out what happened This process involves Matt hearing the stories from all the people Jack talked with The guy who murdered Jack also wants to murder Matt, and the resolution to the drama is sort of flat, with no neat or happy ending But the resolution of the crime has rarely been the point of these books This is a great book 2011 on which the series might end, and it seems to have been intended that way Number 15, Everyone Dies, which pairs Matt with his best friend Mick, feels like it could have been an ending to this series, but this one has Matt look back to events from the first year after he had stopped drinking There is a novella in the series I have yet to read that came out in 2019, and a couple of great Scudder stories, too, that come after this book.I have maintained all along that the central theme of the Scudder series is alcoholism It is always present, in all the books, and especially in this one, where everyone Jack, and then Matt, meets, is addicted usually to booze, but there are also coke addicts and potheads So in this last big book it seems right to sort of summarize what the series is principally about addiction, storytelling as a way to heal, in the process of mysteries to solve Matt tells stories of addiction, and each person he meets tells stories of their struggles of addiction, often confessional You tell stories to make amends, to look back and to make sense of your life To heal You keep workin on mysteries without any clue, as Bob Seger sang mysteries of all kinds Crime, moral dilemmas, relationships There s good guys and bad guys, but not much really separates them, especially in the world of crime Matt inhabits.I love this series, and if I were you and you were at all intrigued to read one of these, I d start with 1 and go all the way through They are not, of course, all equally good, but they are all good, and four or five of them are just flat out great.

  6. says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner Thanks to a contest here on Goodreads, I ended up with an advanced reader s copy of the new Matt Scudder novel I had actually been rereading all of the Scudder books in preparation for the release of this in May, but I had only made it to When the Sacred Ginmill Closes when this arrived I briefly thought about waiting while I reread the rest of the series, but I m not known for my patience or willpower so I burned through this in less than 24 hours There s two ways to approach writing a character in a long running series The author can put them in a limbo where they are timeless and there are never any big changes, or the character can age and grow as the series goes along Block did this as well as anyone ever has in the Scudder books by taking Matt from a drunk former cop living in a hotel to his eventual recovery and building of a life for himself The only downside to this is that the timeline puts Matt around 70 now, and Block had recognized this by slowing Matt down considerably and only writing two Scudder books in the last ten years To get around the geezer factor here, Block goes back to a trick he used in When the Scared Ginmill Closes, the flashback A Drop of the Hard Stuff begins in a familiar setting with Matt and his friend Mick Ballou having one of their all night gab sessions in a closed saloon while Mick sips Irish whiskey and Matt has his club soda In the framing chapters, Matt lets us know that even Mick has slowed down at this point, and that their all night talk fests are getting pretty rare since neither of them can pull an all nighter like they used to In the course of the conversation, Matt brings up a childhood friend, Jack Ellery, and tells Mick a story of what happened back in the mid 80s, during Matt s first year of sobriety.Matt and Jack knew each other as kids for a couple of years, but later, Jack became a petty criminal Matt even saw him in a line up once at his police station when he was still a cop But when Matt bumps into Jack again at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, he finds that Jack has almost twice as much time sober as he does and is in the middle of his step of making amends to those he harmed while drinking.Shortly after this, Jack turns up murdered His sponsor, Greg, thinks that Jack may have accidently stirred up someone while making his apologies to those he wronged back when he was a criminal, but he doesn t want to cause trouble for any innocent people So Greg hires Matt to look into those that Jack was making amends to in order to see if there s any viable suspects they can turn over to the police.As this is going on, Matt is dealing with his upcoming first anniversary of sobriety and thinking about the next steps he needs to take Seeing how hard Jack had worked to try and make up for his sins, but then getting killed because of it has rattled Matt There are other lingering questions with Matt s relationship with his steady girlfriend, another recovering alcoholic.Reading this right after going back through 8 Million Ways to Die recently turned out to be perfect timing because the story takes place shortly after that, and since I ve gone through the books with Matt s early boozing days, getting some of his story during his first year of sobriety was a great piece of his history.As usual in the best of the Scudder novels, the mystery has elements that make Matt reflect on his personal life The flashback aspect also plays into the wistfully nostalgic and melancholy tone that Block does so well in these books This also features Matt yet again coming up with a creative way to deal with the killer after finding him First time readers of Scudder should be warned that Matt does think about and discuss some of the people and cases he s worked before so you could get some spoilers to some of the previous books However, if you don t care about that and are just looking for a terrific character based crime novel, you won t find many better than this.Now that he s used the flashback again to create another first rate Scudder novel, I m torn between hoping that Block will use the idea again and again or thinking that this should be the final farewell to Matt He could certainly have Matt tell stories from all over his thirty plus year career as a private detective On the other hand, the opening and closing chapters in this have a nice tone of finality to them with Mick and Matt setting in the dark bar for what could be the last time Whatever Block decides to do next, I m glad we got this tale of Matt s earlier days.

  7. says:

    Hi, my name is Robert Downs, and I m a member of Lawrence Block Anonymous LBA for short I can see why he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994 He has the damaged, hard boiled detective figured out as well as anyone else I ve ever read, and his prose flows better than eggnog at Christmastime And it s easy to keep on guzzling the way his famous PI Matthew Scudder used to swig the hard stuff A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF indeed Well, than, but it s easy to get carried away when it s just so darn good.If it wasn t for s Kindle Daily Deals, I might have waited a bit longer before I delved into Matthew Scudder s universe, and that would have been a serious travesty, especially considering my love of hard boiled novels knows no bounds I d travel just about anywhere with a hard boiled gumshoe at my side.I d have to agree with the critics that this is one fine piece of detective fiction, even though it would have been easy for Mr Block to let his guard down and go for the low blow Matthew Scudder felt as real to me as if he was standing right beside me, telling me his story over a cup of joe with a determined look and a never back down attitude.The ending could have been a bit better, but it worked out just fine for the story, and it wasn t out of character for Mr Scudder And this proves to be a bit of a minor detail in an otherwise gut wrenching story written with near pitch perfect lyrical prose.I must say this is one fine hard boiled read, and if you re into the hard stuff, it s certainly worthy of a bit attention.Cross posted at Robert s Reads

  8. says:

    After a long six years, Lawrence Block finally delivers A Drop of the Hard Stuff, the seventeenth book featuring New York P.I., Matthew Scudder Beginning with The Sins of the Fathers in 1976, Block has parceled the Scudder books out over a period of thirty five years, much to the frustration of fans who can t get enough of them But each book has been worth the wait, and this one is no exception.By now, Matthew Scudder would be in his middle seventies, and so Block cleverly sets this book back in the early 1980s, when Scudder is still in his middle forties and at a critical point in his life As virtually every fan of crime fiction knows, in the early books in the series, Scudder, a divorced ex cop, had a serious problem with alcohol In the nick of time, he found AA and saved himself, and in A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Block returns to the first year of Matt s sobriety, when he s still struggling with temptation and adjusting to a new way of life that involves attending an awful lot of AA meetings.At one such meeting, Scudder re connects with Jack Ellery The two knew each other briefly as boys, but haven t seen each other in years Ellery has followed an even tougher road than Scudder While young Matt grew up to be a cop, young Jack grew up to become a criminal and has spent time in jail as a result Ellery is now clean and sober as well and is working his way through AA s famous Twelve Steps Matt is just beginning this journey and is in no particular hurry Jack has reached the latter stages of the process and is at the point where he has made a list of the people whom he has harmed and is attempting to apologize and make amends When Ellery is found murdered, with a bullet in his mouth, his friends in AA leap to the logical conclusion that someone that Jack harmed was not content simply to accept an apology Either that, or someone feared the consequences of Jack s apologies and wanted to silence him Ellery s AA sponsor hires Matt to look into the murder which sets Matt on a course that will lead to even violence and place Matt himself at great personal risk.As always, the real treat in these books is watching Scudder at work, especially since this book takes place before personal computers were commonplace, long before Al Gore invented the Internet, and when the only person who had something approaching a cell phone was still Dick Tracy It s also fun to meet again some of the characters that Block had introduced early in the series and who had then disappeared from the books for one reason or another And, as always, the setting in New York City is a major part of the book, and Block is clearly nostalgic for a time and a place that has long since disappeared.Any long time fan is also going to read this book with a fair sense of nostalgia You can t help but wonder if this might finally be the last book in a truly great series One desperately hopes that this will not be the case, but if it is, then this is certainly a good book for Block and Scudder to go out on But in truth, the same could be said for any of the recent entries in this series, and one can t help but point out that A Drop of the Hard Stuff proves that Block certainly has the chops to keep writing it The book is as engaging and as entertaining as virtually any of the other Scudder books and one can only hope that we will not have to wait another six years to see Matthew Scudder again.

  9. says:

    Seeing as Matt Scudder ages along with his creator, Lawrence Block doesn t feel there s much interest in following the activities of a detective in his mid 70s Rather than write a follow up to All The Flowers Are Dying, Block backtracks about thirty years, all the way back to Scudder s first year of sobriety where he finds himself on the trail of a killer.An old friend of Scudder s, fellow AA member Jack Ellery, is found murdered Having no friends or family, Jack s sponsor hires Matt to look into his death by providing a copy of Jack s eighth step, a list of individuals Jack has wronged during his life Jack s sponsor believes that one of the people on this list may be responsible for Jack s untimely demise.Lawrence Block has gone on record stating that with A Drop of the Hard Stuff, he believes he s written his final Matt Scudder novel, but admittedly, he s believed that on a few occasions However, if that s the case, you can t blame the guy for wanting to go out on top A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a tightly paced thriller that kept me guessing right up to the very end Many of Scudder s supporting cast members make an appearance or two Danny Boy Bell, Jan and Jim Fader are present but series favorites Elaine and TJ are noticeably absent given that this story takes place prior to their heavy involvement in Scudder s life While they were missed, Scudder s battle with booze plays a huge part in the story taking up all of Scudder s free time outside of picking up phones and knocking on doors.I m sad to see Scudder go but seventeen original novels leave little room for complaining A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a fine glass of sipping whiskey that goes down smooth I read this novel on my Kindle As you know, there s a percentage that shows up in the lower right hand of the screen that indicates how much of the story you ve read Well, I had 91% left when the story finished, so the ending caught me off guard It made sense but it seemed rather abrupt.The remaining 9% was an excerpt from Block s then soon to be released Keller novel, Hit Me.

  10. says:

    Well That was wonderful, a beautiful swan song for Block and his Scudder.I m very glad Block found his true heart again, and poured it into his hero and this book It s a gem, a treasure, a visit to the not always golden past, a superb detective noir, a journey of a newly sober alcoholic perhaps Block himself, through Matt The pacing is wonderful, and the dialogue mostly top notch Best of all, there s no forced repetition to pad out the saleable length of the book It s not a masterpiece, but it is a superb ending for Matt s life and struggles and adventures.There s quite a bit of AA here, and 12 Steps, but it s nicely woven into the noir, nicely flowing into the cracks Block left behind in the previous 16 books, filling Matt s life out and bringing us up to date A tale told to Mick, two old men reminiscing, wondering how their lives might have been different, as we all do from time to time.The Masterpiece is, of course 8 Million Ways to Die my review 5and the superb four are Sins of the Fathers 1 my review,In the Midst of Death 3 my review,A Stab in the Dark 4 my review,Out on the Cutting Edge 7 my review.I would add this book to the list as well I do not recommend books 8 15 at all Block has famously never talked of his possible AA membership, but I would strongly suggest that every book he wrote after Matt goes sober is a virtual AA meeting for Block, himself Those books mostly start out fine, then we fall asleep in the repetitive, too dull middle, and then we wake up for a rousing coffee shootup at the end I suspect Block Scudder traded alcohol addiction in for an AA Meeting Process addiction surely better for all I m truly happy this worked for him, and for everyone else that AA helps recover their lives And I m so glad we have this final Scudder, this wonderful closure, these familiar faces and times, this farewell Thank you, Mr Block.My own family suffered alcoholism for 17 years, very hard years, very painful, but in recovery now So I do understand and respect Block s story, as reflected in his hero here.Notes and Quotes Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang Shakespeare Sonnet 73 Tomorrow s always there, just over the horizon Until the tomorrows run out.Lovely Jan Jan brought me my clothes, I said, and I gave her back my set of keys, but it turned out we weren t quite done with each other That took a while longer We really cared for each other, so we kept trying to make it work, until it was just too obvious that it wouldn t 1.0% I m a fool, perhaps, for desperately wanting a return to some of the brilliance of Block s early books After reading so many truly crappy books after the exceptional Out on the Cutting Edge, I hope to find it here 9.0% it s a nice surprise to see Jan Keane again 15.0% Milton Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained Do you know what Samuel Johnson said of Paradise Lost He said no one ever wished it longer, 21.0% so many Scudder books and still we get 15 potted character place police histories included in every book 30.0% the story by Sattenstein is really quite wonderful 31.0% why do I get the feeling that Block is feeling guilty about Matt s breakup with Jan, so many years ago He seems to be manipulating Matt into resenting Jan here 34.0% Block is tying up loose ends in Matt s past, and doing the painful breakup with Jan gently, nicely, but it still feels contrived 42.0% a nice swan song, so far Block touches all the old bases, all the old songs and faces, and the dialogue is very good, not padded A good feeling to this book.

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