Tuesday 20 March 2018

Review: A Drop Of The Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

Orion, £18.99

Former New York police detective and now off-the-books private detective Matt Scudder suddenly bumps into 'High-Low' Jack Ellery, a guy he was at school with years before.

They were never real friends, but 20 years ago when Matt was a cop he once saw Ellery in a police line-up and realised their lives had taken very different paths.

But now they share one thing in common, a battle with alcohol.

Scudder is coming up to his first anniversary of sobriety, while Ellery is now on his ninth step of the AA programme, the step that suggests it's time to make amends to the people he's wronged over the years because of his addiction.

But shortly after they meet, Ellery is murdered, shot in the head and mouth. Asked by Ellery's AA sponsor to investigate his death, Scudder, armed only with the list Ellery has made of the people he hurt over the years, realises that he's put himself in harm's way -- not only from a bullet but also from the siren call of the bar stool -- by agreeing to help.

A (no pun intended) brilliant, if sobering, novel of loss and redemption that copper-fastens Block's well-deserved reputation as one of the best crime writers around.

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