Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review : A Drop of the Hard Stuff

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block. Mulholland Books, 2011. (Published May 12)

[Source: Mulholland Books]

A Drop of the Hard Stuff is the seventeenth installment in Block's Matthew Scudder series. Don't let that turn you off if you've never read a Matthew Scudder book before. I'd never read any of them and had no trouble following A Drop of the Hard Stuff. This is largely due to the premise of the novel. Chronologically, it fits in with some of the earliest Matthew Scudder titles, taking the reader back to his early days as a private investigator. The book opens with the present day Scudder shooting the breeze with an old friend. As they talk, Scudder begins to tell the story of "High-Low" Jack Ellery, a childhood acquaintance who reappeared in Scudder's life just before he achieved one year of sobriety in 1982.

Ellery turns up dead, and Scudder's search for the killer threatens to destroy the new life he's trying to build. While A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a great mystery, the flashback narration also makes it a touching reflection on sobriety and the choices that make up our lives. Matthew Scudder is a flawed and endearing character that I want know better. I have another Matthew Scudder novel on TBR list for the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge, but after reading this one, I'm eager to go back to the beginning of this series and see how it all started. I encourage you to pick up A Drop of the Hard Stuff to get a taste of this legendary mystery writer and his most celebrated character, Matthew Scudder.

Related post:
Publisher spotlight : Mulholland Books
Review : Guilt by Association
Review : The Bayou Trilogy

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A Drop of the Hard Stuff


  1. I was hesitant to pick this one up since I haven't read any of the series. I'm glad to see it stands alone so well.

  2. Do go back to the beginning and read these. I've read most of them and the early ones are the best. This is one of my favorite series.