A Drop of The Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block
Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder novels are exquisite private detective, mystery novels. Readers have loved the series featuring Scudder, a former New York City cop and a recovering alcoholic. In recent years, Block had said that he may have written his last novel. So, Matt Scudder fans rejoiced when Block announced Scudder would return again in A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF.
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.
Reviews have been enthusiastic:
“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