cover image A Drop of the Hard Stuff: A Matthew Scudder Novel

A Drop of the Hard Stuff: A Matthew Scudder Novel

Lawrence Block, Little, Brown/Mulholland, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-12733-2

MWA Grand Master Block's powerful 17th novel featuring PI Matthew Scudder (after 2005's All the Flowers Were Dying) explores the challenges of an alcoholic attempting to atone for his past misdeeds. In 1970 or '71, Scudder, then a Manhattan NYPD detective, recognizes a guy he knew in grade school in the Bronx, Jack Ellery, in a police lineup to identify a robber. The victim picks someone else as the man who held her up at gunpoint, though Ellery's the guilty party. Years later, after Scudder has left the force, he meets Ellery, now an ex-con, at an AA meeting, where Ellery is trying to take the ninth step—making amends to all the people he'd harmed. Scudder's efforts to solve the murder that results from Ellery's quest for absolution place his own sobriety—and life—at risk. 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. (May)