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A Long Line of Dead Men [Hardcover]

Lawrence Block
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 1994
In Manhattan, 30 men have been meeting once a year for years, their only purpose to record the passing of time. But then these men start to die at an alarming rate, and it's clear that someone is determined to kill them all. Scudder takes on the case, unprepared for its emotional repercussions.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; First Edition edition (Oct 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688121934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688121938
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,025,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Lawrence Block was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger in 2004. He is also a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. He is the author of many novels and short stories and has won numerous awards for his mystery writing. He lives and works in New York City. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still great after all these years. 5 May 2011
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I just finished Lawrence Block's latest Matt Scudder book, "A Drop of the Hard Stuff". It's his first book in a few years and I found it of 5 star quality and wrote a review for Amazon. But it is not Block's best Scudder book. That was "A Long Line of Dead Men", originally published in the mid-1990's. (After the first attack on the World Trade Center but before the second.) I make it a habit to reread the book every few years, but I hadn't done so in about 5 years. So, I went back and read it, hoping it would be as good as I remembered it. And it was.

Lawrence Block's novels - and he has had several series using different characters - are never particularly action-filled. Oh, people get killed - in Block's "Keller" series a lot of people get killed - but he's not a graphic writer. In the Scudder series, Block writes in the first person, as Matt Scudder. Scudder is a retired cop, a recovering alcoholic, and an under-the-table private investigator. People hire him to "look into things". And as I wrote in my review of "Hard Stuff", most of the Scudder series touches on AA and it's Step program. "Hard Stuff" was heavily into it and this book, "Long Line" also uses AA as a plot point. But the focus of this story is on a club - a private, secret men's group that meets yearly at a steakhouse in New York. The "Club of 31" meets to mark the march of life and death. Every year they enjoy a good meal, good drinks, good conversation, and list the men who have died since the club was formed. Then, when the club is down to the last man living, he chooses 30 young men to start the march all over again. The old list of names is destroyed and a new list of names begins as the 30 age. A long line of dead men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible concept 23 Jun 2011
My favourite of Block's books. It is a Matt Scudder mystery, so one of a series but it stands alone.

Like most of his writing it is quite dark and can be fairly slow paced but this book flows and is an excellent read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Noir 17 Feb 2013
By The Emperor TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This has somewhat of a Sherlock Holmes type plot. What could have been tremendously silly almost becomes plausible.

The pace is fairly slow but I never became bored with it. The dialogue really is brilliant and there are plenty of witty one liners. Matt Scudder is a fascinating character and the other characters in the book are fully formed and realistic.
New York is almost a character as well.

NB: There is a cheaper version of this avaliable on Kindle published by the author himself.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality crime fiction 4 Feb 2002
Another classic from Block, good storyline and plot and as always excellent characterisation. Scudder must be one of the most interesting figures in modern crime fiction.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard-boiled puzzle 6 Sep 2004
By Lynn Harnett - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Hardboiled P.I. Fiction 17 Feb 2001
By Brian D. Rubendall - Published on Amazon.com
I am a huge fan of hardboiled P.I. fiction, and this is the first Matthew Scudder book that I've had a chance to read. And while I found the book to be a bit on the slow side in terms of action, the plot was so fascinating that I couldn't put it down. The book's real subject matter is death, and as one character says, man is the only animal who knows he's going to die. He's also the only animal that drinks. Somehow, there must be a connection. Those strictly interested in shoot-'em-ups and continuous action should look elsewhere. Those who like their P.I. stories on the philisophical side will love it.
As a character, I found Scudder interesting, especially his background and his continuous battle with alcoholism. Like any good P.I., he inhabits the landscape around him (in this case, Manhattan) so well that he becomes part of the scenery. I also didn't mind the fact that he was involved in a stable relationship (often a weakness in other P.I. serieses. A classic P.I. ought to be a loner). His love interest is just quirky enough to add spice to the story and isn't used merely to give him a contrived vulnerability. Overall, the best compliment I can pay is that I don't expect that this will be my last encounter with Scudder.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, true Scudder 2 Dec 1998
By Harold L. Laroff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tontine Society 5 Feb 2004
By Wyatt James - Published on Amazon.com
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'.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Matt Scudder 25 Mar 2008
By Roger Long - Published on Amazon.com
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.
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