by Lawrence Block
Mulholland Books – May 2011
336 pages; $25.99
“I put in my papers not long after a stray bullet of mine killed a young girl in Washington Heights. That incident didn’t cause my resignation from the department, any more than it caused the end of my marriage, but it would be accurate to say it precipitated both of those events, and left me with something to spend the next several years drinking about.” -Matthew Scudder
Matthew Scudder finds himself a long way away from his previous life. Gone is the detective position he once held; the wife and family; and the house on Long Island. All casualties of his drinking way of life. Now Scudder is living in a hotel room in the city; working as an unlicensed P.I. to make ends meet; and diligently working at staying sober – thanks to his effort and commitment with AA.
While attending AA, Scudder meets a former friend from his boyhood days in the Bronx – Jack Ellery . Ellery, who’s nicknamed “High-Low Jack”, has led a very different life from Scudder’s. A lifelong criminal, Ellery has somewhat recently found sobriety following a prison stay.
“The Bronx was a long time ago,
and we’d taken very different paths since then,
even if we’d managed to wind up in the same place.”
-Scudder on meeting Ellery
Scudder and Ellery begin to reconnect. A former criminal and former cop united by their shared sobriety. While working on his 8th step (make amends to those you’ve hurt), Ellery is found murdered. With little evidence, and Jack being a career criminal with a drinking problem, his case doesn’t garner much attention from the police. With the urging of Jack’s sponsor, and a personal interest in Jack’s death, Scudder takes on his investigative role to find Jack’s killer. A role that will test Scudder’s sobriety and lead to more deaths.
Block’s detailed writing creates some enjoyable characters and reading. A quick and enjoyable read, Block skillfully brings his characters’ to life and their New York City surroundings, creating an engaging experience. The intricacies of AA; the mind of an addict; personal relationships; and good old-fashioned police work are brilliantly exposed in Block’s writing. Mystery fans will love A Drop of the Hard Stuff.
This is the 17th Scudder novel by Block.
For more information on A Drop of the Hard Stuff, please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316127332.htm