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Mass Market Paperback A Long Line of Dead Men Book

ISBN: 0380720248

ISBN13: 9780380720248

A Long Line of Dead Men

(Book #12 in the Matthew Scudder Series)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

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Book Overview

Matthew Scudder, played by Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones, investigates a secret, private club in Manhattan whose members suddenly start dying, when it becomes obvious that someone is... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Good Matt Scudder

I'd read anything Lawrence Block wrote, cereal boxes, if necessary--that's how much of a fan I am. His only competitor in a narrow field is Donald Westlake, and Block is a tad or so better. The plot of "Long Line" involves a tontine, a club of disparate men who meet once per year to see who has died. Unlikely? Yes, but bear with it. After a time it appears that the members are dying faster than normal, and Scudder is hired to find out why. It's been done before with different twists (e.g., Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None"), but it's not bad. I would add only that the first pages were a bit tedious--until Scudder takes the reins. Then the book moves. But it's not the plot that makes this book worthwhile. Block's characters, the ambience of New York City and the dialogue, especially the latter, are what carry this. Block's people are full of contradictions. Too often writers invent characters who stay on a narrow track, but never Block. For example, unlicensed detective Scudder is devoted to his main squeeze, but now and then he strays. His main squeeze is an ex-call girls who has an artsy Manhattan shop and an eye for what is "in" with the artsy buyers. She can sell "paint by the number" works for hundreds of dollars if the painting is in an expensive frame. Block's African American friend talks jive and straight, and the reader is never sure which is his real voice. Block invents some streets and byways of the City, but that causes no harm. I wouldn't nitpick that. Block's city is very much alive. His most obvious talent, however, is in writing dialogue. No one does it better. It's funny. It's real. There are very funny throwaway lines. While this is not my favorite Block novel, it's a worthwhle read--and a good deal better than most other crime novels.

A hard-boiled puzzle

Multi-award winner Block combines the mystery puzzle format with the gritty style of the American private eye iin this 1994 Matthew Scudder novel. Scudder himself is a somewhat unsettling character - a forthright, thoughtful recovering alcoholic who lives with an ex-prostitute and claims as his best friend a hard-drinking killer. The story's premise is instantly tantalizing, bristling with curiosities. Scudder's new client, Lewis Hildebrand, belongs to an unusual club - 31 men who meet annually to reflect on the year's changes in their lives and to take reverent note of those members who have died. Members speak of the club to no one, not even wives. The last living member chooses 30 new members and the club goes on. That day is quickly approaching. Hildebrand hires Scudder to investigate the alarming death rate among members. As Scudder looks for a thread linking the disparate accidents, suicides and murders, the questions multiply and the angles proliferate. Motive is baffling and the only suspects are the surviving club members. As always, Block's writing is excellent with a tight plot, unusual characters and intelligent dialogue. One of Scudder's better outings.

Tontine Society

There is something appealing (to some people, including me) about a 'secret society' that only meets once a year or so and whose membership is selected with no particular requirements beyond the nomination, even though it is a matter of the whim of the nominator. No dues, no qualifications, no rules (except silence about the club). This one has just 31 members, the last one living selecting the next 30, and has gone on for umpty generations. Now somebody is killing the members -- is it to 'inherit' the chairmanship? Apparently not, since a leading member asks Scudder to investigate. Like Rex Stout's "League of Frightened Men" this is a classic of this sub-category of detective-novel themes. The mystery is intriguing, and I am happy to say that Matt Scudder is selected to become a new member in spite of there being some survivors. He should be very proud to belong to such a society (even though it isn't mentioned in subsequent books, but maybe that's because it's supposed to be a 'secret society' -- in which case why did Scudder write about it? -- oh, well, that's the only way first-person narratives get written in the first place). Great idea for an old-man club, though they start out young. Meet once a year, eat well, and sigh 'well, I'm still here'.

explosive and engaging

The premise is unusual - a secret society of businessmen, that started in ancient Babylon and has continued to this day. A set of 31 men, who gather once a year for a dinner, and patiently wait until only one remains, who selects 30 young men to regenerate the process. But somebody has noticed the current crop is dying at a rate well off the life insurance actuarial charts. Several of these deaths are obvious murders, but others that were dismissed as suicides or accidents are now being re-examined. Matt Scudder is employed to found out if there is a sinister plot to thin the ranks, and if so, why. This book was outstanding. I love Lawrence Block's writing style, whether he's writing about Matt Scudder or Bernie Rhodenbarr. Can Matt Scudder uncover a mass murderer who has patiently worked for years before he strikes again? You'll be on the edge of your seat as you read this one.

Great book, true Scudder

Matthew Scudder is Lawrence Block's remarkable private investigator. He's a former NYPD detective who left the force after an accident left a child dead in a crossfire. Scudder is a recovering alcoholic, attending meetings of AA. (In earlier books in the Scudder series he's always drinking. In time he realizes he needs help.) By the time we meet up with him in "A Long Line of Deadmen," Scudder has been sober ten years. In this novel we learn of a legendary club that consists of 31 men. They meet once a year until their membership is down to a single member who has the responsibility of recruiting another thirty men to carry on the tradition to wait until all but one of them is alive. The group meets for years and years, considering the new recruits are in the late twenties and thirties. When members of the club start dyeing at an alarming rate Matt Scudder is hired by one of the members to investigate. Characters from past Scudder novels reappear. The ever present Elaine, his call-girl girl friend have developed a more permanent relationship. In "A Walk Among the Tombstones," Block introduces a streetwise American-American teen that has street smarts. His only permanent address is his pager. TJ is back and helps Scudder with the case. TJ reminds me of a black ten year old I knew many years ago in the South Bronx, intelligent and street wise at the same time. I guess only God knows what became of him. I hope Scudder keeps TJ alive and well and in action in future novels. I enjoyed this Scudder novel as I did the others in the series. It's not as fast paced as the other in the series but does make very well reading. I suggest if you enjoy "Long Line..." you might want to read the others in the series in sequence.
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