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4.5 out of 5 stars54
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2008
This is the tenth in the series of Matt Scudder novels from Block, and they keep on getting better. The subsidiary characters are starting to have lives of their own, and Scudder, the ex-police, ex-drunk, maverick detective is getting more complex a personality with each novel. This one sees him finally establishing a firm relationship with ex-hooker Elaine, which makes a good sub-plot. The main story this time is the hunt for a particularly gruesome kidnapper and serial killer whose latest victim is the wife of a rich drug dealer. The dealer pays the ransom demand, and his wife is returned to him - dismembered! He can't go to the police, so persuades Scudder to take up the chase to avenge his wife's death. Absolutely gripping.
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on 9 February 2014
By immersing myself in this fantastic novel, I finally get the chance to return to the universe in which my reading became serious. The Matthew Scudder series by arguably the genre's finest ever contributor, Lawrence Block. If you are new to Matthew Scudder, you owe it to yourself to read them in order. I know that is a big ask but the effort will be worth it. On to the book...

The reader suspects that something nasty is bound to happen to Mrs Francine Khoury as soon as the blue van starts its engine and begins to follow the Toyota Camry to the supermarket. Camry's don't get followed by blue vans in order to hand out public duty salutations. Mr Block's writing style, even from the beginning of the book - is so well crafted and finely tuned that suspense and even terror start to build up in the stomach of the reader as you progress from page one. Two stories are developing, running like express trains on parallel tracks - one featuring Francine Khoury, blissfully unaware of the horrible fate that is about to visited upon her, and the other story focuses on our man Scud as he enjoys an evening date with girlfriend Elaine. Even Scudder feels a coming tempest in his guts, in the air he breathes and even the sight of the moon in the sky above New York City feels wrong. Of course these two separate trains are destined to collide and that is when the s*** really hits the fan.

Mr Block's writing skills have always been above question. His genius lies in his ability to tell stories and create characters that resonate with the world and lives that we all lead. Characters from one book often reappear in later books as fan favourites and are sometimes used as cornerstones from which the plot evolves. Emotional attachment is therefore a given. We see the flaws of Scudder and as each book finishes we can revel in his success and growth toward salvation and even redemption.

With the Scudder series, Mr Block has created yet another sub-genre within the mystery field. New-age Noir. Each book is dark, gritty, realistic and sometimes very violent expressions of life in one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. Phillip Marlowe has evolved and extrapolated into a 20th century super hero. Throughout the series, Scudder has managed to grow and evolve but has retained some flaws and therefore his humanity. His ability to resonate with the readers and fans of the series has never been stronger than it is here and the legend of The Scud will only grow to become a classic series of must read novels that will live on forever.

BFN Greggorio!
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on 29 May 1996
Lawrence Block is at the top of his game here. The
plot crackles with moral questions. Make no mistake
about it this is a dark, brooding book but it is
also fascinating. I honestly could not put the book
down. Block excels in probing those grey areas of
morality, his characters are real and we can easily
sit long into the night wondering what we would do
under their dire circumstances. Highly recommended but
not for the faint of heart...
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on 13 May 1999
Lawrence Block never fails to entertain, amuse, and sometimes horrify, in this novel about a narcotics dealer and the abduction of his wife. Being a man with sufficient funds, the narcotics dealer pays the subsequent random demands after a bit of haggling. But what turns up in the trunk of an abandoned motor car is not what he bargained for. Matthew Scudder, Lawrence Block's ex-cop turned Private Investigator, battling alcoholic, is the man hired to discover exactly what has happened. What has happened is a grizzly turn of events, which is just one in a line of abominable crimes. Being an avid reader of Lawrence Block's material including the highly entertaining Burglar series. I would say that for a read that you will 'find hard to put down', this Matthew Scudder outing tops the list of the best Block novels and dare I say crime fiction. If you like your reading material fast paced, with a vice like grip. Then this is a book, which you will find hard to beat.
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on 8 June 2014
I saw the trailer for the film and heard it was based on a book. So I downloaded the book to my kindle not knowing what to expect.
I was hooked straight away, gripping story, wonderfully flawed characters with genuine personas and a brilliant back drop of New York and Brooklyn.
Do yourself a favour and read this book!
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on 13 November 2013
Crime fiction is one of the most popular genres out there and almost every author tries to bring some sort of gimmick to their novel to make it stand out. However, if written well, a crime novel should hold up, even when stripped down to the very basics. `A Walk Among the Tombstones' by Lawrence Block is a great example of this; a solid crime story that tells the simple tale of a man trying to track down some very bad people. That man is Matt Scudder, recovering alcoholic and former detective. When a drug dealer's wife is kidnapped and returned less than whole, Matt is hired to find the culprits, but what will happen to them if he does?

Matt Scudder is a fantastic character, all grizzled determination and abstinence. There are few thrills to him, what you see is what you get. Therefore, the solving of the crime in `Tombstones' is a realistic reflection of how a PI would go about things. Tracking down leads, hunting around for phone numbers etc. You genuinely get the feeling that the case would be solved in this fashion. The crime itself is a very dark one and adds real edge to proceedings. This is more than just some professional kidnappings, things are far more disturbing and Matt needs to get them off the streets. How this is done plagues him. Does he allow the victim's families revenge, or go to the police? By living in the grey between legal and illegal, Matt Scudder is a character with more depth than most PIs.

In lesser hands the alcoholic aspects of Matt's character would be just another cliché ridden detective story, but Block really invests in it. Scudder is not a man who has a small problem with drink, but a recovering alcoholic who regularly goes to AA meetings within in the book. His investigations have to fit around his meetings. `Tombstones' is a very good slice of crime fiction that may prove a little too simple for some. There is also a section on computer hacking that is not only dated, but not brilliantly written. The rest of the book will appeal greatly to crime fiction lovers.
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on 12 October 2014
The book started well, lost focus in the middle and then I just couldn't be bothered to finish it. I am an avid reader and will read a book in one sitting. I found the characters implausible and difficult to engage with and I did not care what happened to them. The writing was average and I will be unlikely to read anything else by this author. I struggled to see why it attracted anyone to transfer the story onto the big screen. Judging by the film reviews, audiences agree.
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on 6 March 2012
I am a sucker for a cracking character, often waiting months for a new book with an old familiar face.
After getting a kindle for Christmas I couldn't wait to get reading but sadly none of my classic detectives were new on the shelf - until, that is i saw this book. Thinking it was one of Block's that i somehow missed i was on it like a shot. Uploading was quick but even quicker was my realisation that i have not only read this before, actually had the hardback on the shelf not 10 feet from me!
While disappointed at first I quickly fell,in love with the raw and often stomach wrenching scenes of violence, the wonderful walk through imagery of New York's neighbourhoods and it's unique inhabitants.
Make no mistake this is a dark and menacing book with some genuine bad guys, even the good guys are a little bent but what a brilliant ending - worthy of a Charles Bronson revenge sequel.
My re-read, albeit a mistake, was well worth it and only served to strengthen my relationship with Matt Scudder and the marvellous world he is master of.
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on 9 April 2002
A strange one, this, a Matt Scudder book I felt uncomfortable with. Mostly because, I suppose, that his client this time is a drug dealer who's wife has been kidnapped. Scudder isn't totally happy working for him, and, despite Block's attempt to characterise him as a cuddly, family man drug dealer, menaced by totally evil psychotics, neither am I.
That aside, though, this is one of the most tautly written of the Scudder series (which is high praise indeed) with a real edge-of-the-seat climax.
And if you don't read it, you'll never find out how Matt got free long distance calling from his hotel room.
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on 23 July 2014
Block at his best in this tautly written entry in the Matt Scudder series. As Matt is drawn in to work for a drug dealer whose wife has been kidnapped he is initially reluctant to take the case, but the reader ends up being very glad that he did! I recently starting re-reading the entire Scudder series in anticipation of the upcoming film version of this book and had forgotten how enjoyable they all were, especially this one. An atmospheric novel that will keep the reader at the edge of their seat - can't wait to see Liam Neeson stepping into the role!
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