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The Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder)

(Book #11 in the Matthew Scudder Series)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

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Book Overview

A deranged derelict, a crazed Vietnam vet, has been arrested for gunning down successful young lawyer Glenn Holtzmann at a corner phone booth on Eleventh Avenue -- and the suspect's brother wants p.i.... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Devil Knows that this is a Great Scudder Novel

As if Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series wasn't already the quirkiest private detective series around, "The Devil Knows You're Dead," is Scudder's most unconventional story yet. Superficially, the novel is about Scudder's attempt to prove that a deranged homeless man did not randomly gun down a successful lawyer. But actually, the novel is a dissertation about death and the choices one makes in life. During his investigation, Scudder's ex-girlfriend Jan Keane discloses to him that she has terminal cancer and asks him to procure a gun so that she can end her life before the pain consumes her. Meanwhile, Scudder and his current love, the former call girl Elaine Mardell, are moving closer together, even as Scudder becomes more restless and Elaine begins to question the direction of her own life. To top it off, Scudder's restlessness causes him to begin an affair with the dead lawyer's wife that he is ashamed of but unable to stop. This causes him to question whether he will be able to continue his sobriety despite over ten successful years in AA.All of this accompanies a mystery that is interesting in and of itself, but not nearly as menacing as most Scudder mysteries. The recurring charater of the street kid TJ also shows some progression in his life during the story while assisting Scudder's investigation. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this novel as the place to start reading Scudder since to truly enjoy it requires a lot of the previous background of the characters. But for those who already know how good the Scudder novels are it is a must read.

My Favorite Detective Story

I've enjoyed crime novels written by various authors for many years. This was the first book I read by Lawrence Block and it's still my favorite of his, which would make it my favorite among all I guess. Here I discovered a murder mystery unlike others. The beauty is that the story doesn't end with the solution of the crime. Instead of fast paced action you find a plodding investigator nosing around for clues to the identity of a victim whose life was more mysterious than his death. When the case is finally resolved, all the characters have already moved on with their lives. In fact, the more interesting tale is that of the survivors. Scudder, Elaine, TJ, Mick, Jan, all become your friends and neighbors and you find yourself caring much more about them than the victim or the crime itself. A remarkable portrait of very realistic people and events.

Remarkable Matt Scudder scores again!

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. But that was years and probably took place sometime in the past before the first Matt Scudder novel. "The Devil Knows You're Dead," is Block's 11th in the series. (As of this writing there are 13.) This is a fast paced story in which Scudder finds he is asked to solve the death of a Yuppie lawyer living in an area of Hell's Kitchen. Matt and his girlfriend Elaine spent an evening and Glenn Holtzmann, the lawyer, and his wife Lisa. From the beginning Matt doesn't like Glenn. Glenn is killed and a homeless vet is arrested and accused of the murdering Glenn. Scudder is asked to prove that the vet didn't do the crime by his brother. Of course one thing leads to another as the truth unfolds. The relationship between Elaine, Matt's girlfriend becomes more serious as they plan on buying an apartment together. TJ, the streetwise African-American teen is back assisting Scudder. As I have said in other reviews of Matt Scudder novels. They are like potato chips. You can't quit after one.


I agree with "quinton"; this is a great book, one of Block's best. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I find Scudder's travails all too real. Block must be a recovering alcoholic himself to have such a clear understanding of the alcoholic's predilictions, temptations, and character flaws. Readers who enjoy the Scudder novels for the same reasons I do will also probably enjoy the "Dave Robicheaux" series by James Lee Burke.

Intricately plotted mystery in the saga of Matt Scudder

Probably the best novel in the series by Lawrence Block starring the ex-alcoholic, free- lance detective, Matt Scudder. Scudder is asked to help solve the mystery of the death of a prosperous lawyer on on of Manhattan's toughest streets. The real killer is caught, or is he? The lawyer is an outstanding citizen, or is he? There is a sub-plot involving Jan, Scudder ex-girl friend and her death from cancer. As usual the author shows how AA helps Scudder face his problems without drinking. There is more plotting than usual in the series, with the story unfolding in strange ways. Scudder's stick-to-the-pavements brand of detecting turns up some answers. But as in real life, not everything is solved. It is hard to believe that Block after ten previous novels with the same detective and other characters can come up with such a great novel, but he has.
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