Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

17 May

A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Matthew Scudder, #17)My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I suspect my rating would have been much higher if I’d read any of the previous books in the series, if I knew and was already invested in the character of Matthew Scudder. I have the first book of the series in my shopping cart, and plan to meet Matthew properly soon– I saw lots of promise in this book.

Summary via

Matthew Scudder is finally on the straight and narrow when he runs into “High-Low” Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx. In Scudder, Jack sees the moral man he might have become. In Jack, Scudder sees the hard-won sobriety he hopes to achieve.

Then Ellery, following to the letter the dictates of Alcoholics Anonymous’ infamous twelve steps, is shot down while attempting to atone for past sins, and Scudder is drawn into a murder investigation that threatens to upset his path toward recovery–and get him killed in the process.

The mystery here is secondary, and that’s fine with me. It provides something for Scudder to do while he deals with the real meat of the book– facing one year of sobriety. It also gave an opportunity to introduce characters that I assume play a bigger role in the earlier books. I didn’t have any issues with the search for the murderer, and it was well integrated into the other aspects of the story.

A Drop of the Hard Stuff is evidently filling in back story for the lead character of this series, and focuses on Scudder’s looking back over this year of sobriety, and what it took for him to get there and stay there. Much of the book takes place in AA meetings– some of this time sets up the plot, but more of it deals with the ins and outs of life as a recovering alcoholic.

This was interesting, but I never quite formed a full connection with Matthew Scudder. There were other small issues like a few pages of framing story (a talk between two men) that made no sense to me. I hope to read enough of the rest of the series to resolve these issues!

Thank you to Mulholland Books for sending me a copy for review!


Posted by on May 17, 2011 in books, reviews


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5 responses to “Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

  1. Jenn's Bookshelves

    May 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Yes, I agree. You’ll really get into the characters once you’ve read some of the other books. Hopefully this book serves as a springboard for you to read the other books in this series! So worth it!

  2. Leslie

    May 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I’ve read most of the Matthew Scudder series and it’s one of my favorites. This is book 17 and probably too far along in the series to fully enjoy it without the background… a lot has happened with the characters. Do give the first few books a chance, this is a great series.


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