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Publisher's Summary

When ex-cop Matt Scudder thought back on the summer of '75, two faces emerged from behind the smoky haze of a half dozen boozy saloons that made up his beat: Skip Devoe and Tommy Tillary - two bar flies he wouldn't have given a second thought to in the bright light of day. Yet they and their troubles were the reason that moved him a little farther out of the bleary-eyed mess that had become his life.
More mayhem? Listen to another Matt Scudder mystery.
©1986 Lawrence Block (P)1991 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Chilling." ( Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    72
  • 4 Stars
    48
  • 3 Stars
    28
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    4

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    54
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    1
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    4

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    52
  • 4 Stars
    28
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great narration, great prose

Block paints a detailed portrait of New York's boozy underbelly while weaving in mystery, dirty deeds and self-doubt. The characters ring true--hopeless men and women who frequent dive bars and attempt to make sense of their lives. The narration is akin to listening to poetry.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Little action, lots of characters, boozing heavily

I love Block's books and enjoy Matt Scudder mysteries generally. However, this book disappointed because mostly there is a lot of meandering and conversations and talk about drinking with little or no relation to the mysteries. It picks up in the last 1/4 of the book, when developments occur that reveal, at least to Matt's satisfaction, whodunit. His behavior is novel with some nice twists at the end. I didn't find Matt's drinking buddies very intriguing and probably would have been satisfied had this been a short story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This book kinda grows on you.

Lawrence Block has been a very prolific writer over a long career. Mark Hammer is an excellent narrator. The action of the book is set entirely in New York City. The action is also as booze-soaked as one can imagine, if one can imagine booze on every page. The book was written in 1975. The plot includes a stickup of an after-hours bar called Morrissey's, and also a murder in Brooklyn, as well as a theft of account books at another bar. At first the book seems caught in a time when people really did do that much drinking. Matt Scudder and his five or six friends are constantly hanging out in various bars, mainly drinking. However, the plot picks up speed as the crimes come close to solutions. As with many great whodunits, you will not be able to predict them. Mark Hammer's somewhat boozy voice works perfectly here. Aside from the alcoholism, the characters are believable denizens of NYC. Block has written at least one other book about Scudder, and a whole fleet of Bernie Rhodenbarr books. He has found an audience, and, you might be among them if you enjoy this. It isn't profound, but few mysteries are. It has action and good characters, and the view of NYC may be old, but it rings true. I have read some of Block's other books, and he can write. Enjoy.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • IVAL
  • FREEHOLD, NJ, United States
  • 11-05-13

Great!!

Elegant writing. Masterful narration. The mood remains even after the book is over. And best of all, there are 17 more of them in my future!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Plot driven

Narration is awesome. The writing not so much, though there are definite High Points. Matt Scutter is not your typical noir detective. But the plot doesn’t unfold naturally. Scutter improbably conjures solutions. It is a page turner after you get through the lengthy introductions to characters. But in the end there is no sense that something has been illuminated. Somewhat entertaining but not enriching.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story. Terrible reader

It’s a great story and i loved the book when I read it some years back. But god almighty who decided that a man with a severe head cold, allergies and a recently broken nose should be the reader.
“So I went over to armstrongs, psshhh, snort.”
Finally got to be too much. Can’t remember the ending but I think I still have the book around so I’ll read it.
Were they trying for gritty or hard boiled with the reader? More like fingernails on a chalkboard. Just awful! Ruined a really good book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Solid crime srory

Lawrence Block writes a complex crime story but leaves his readers satisfied by making sense of all the clues, A little dark and occasionally slow-paced but very solid. overall.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben B.
  • Philly 'burbs, PA, US
  • 08-08-17

Excellent Scudder: complex, dark and pivotal

This is an important book in Lawrence Block's Scudder series. It has a satisfyingly complex plot whose pieces mostly cone together by the end, and (perhaps most importantly for this series) it has a rich if seamy atmosphere with plenty of detail. It's also a pivotal book in terms of Scudder's development. The only downside was that I didn't particularly care for Mark Hammer's narration. He made most of the characters sound pretty much the same, which is to say like tough guys in a NY mafia movie. He wasn't bad, just not as good as some of the other series narrators such as Alan Sklar or William Roberts. i even prefer Block himself, who doesn't sound anything like a tough guy but who has the sort of blase indifference that can be effective for Scudder.

Nonetheless, this is an excellent audiobook for Scudder fans.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • antonio
  • genthod, Switzerland
  • 09-28-15

Scudders's blues

The story is off to a slow start and seems to ramble with no clear direction. But then little by little it picks up and get you involved as all the Scudder stories do.
The mystery part is good, but the amazing characters' development, the sharp dialogues and the pervasive New York atmosphere are what really fascinate and keep you listening (and willing more).
Lawrence Block's writing is as superb as ever, with every sentence sparkling with quality. Mark Hammer is fully immersed in Scudder character and adds value to the book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I bought this sort of at random

I have never read anything by this author before. The book and the reader were both superb. I mean really fantastic. I was blown away at how much I enjoyed this story.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful