A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's high time I started on book one in Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series, because I am LOVING what I'm reading so far!
Scudder is a once-cop, once-private investigator cum investigator (just seems to depend on the day and his finances) who's battling alcoholism. (view spoiler)[An old school friend/crook he's been recently reacquainted with is trying to get his life in order when he gets done in. (hide spoiler)] He's forced into a case somewhat close to his hardened heart, so he ends up looking into it just as much for the pay as for his own conscience.
In fine Block fashion, the reader is left wondering "Is this the guy who done it?...No wait, it's gotta be this guy! Or maybe..." almost right up to the end. I might've figured it out sooner, but I got stuck on this one character and having made up my mind it was him, I spent a third of a book looking for clues specifically for this one guy, thus missing any clues that would've pointed to the real killer. I swallowed the red herring bones and all. The clue that I was on the wrong track came when my killer got killed. Doh!
Folks that are looking for a straightforward mystery or crime story won't get it in A Drop of the Hard Stuff. Nope, and that's the beauty of it for me. I prefer books with some literary merit (SNOB ALERT!) and this has it. I'm not talking about highfalutin poetical bs, I'm talking about a little more character development than what you usually get with the genre stuff. You get plenty of character in this one! Scudder is working on his first year of sobriety and so many of the scenes take place in AA meetings. Block described some dynamite scenes of temptation and inner turmoil that really made you feel for these sad sods.
Even though I felt like this book provided some great insights into that world, of course not everyone's going to be down with reading about depressing AA meetings. Even I got a tad bored a time or two. There isn't a lot of action in this one, but when it heats up, it gets intense.
Now, it's time for me to start from book one. I am completely ready to get to know this Scudder fellow from the beginning!</["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]>
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