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A Dance at the Slaughterhouse [Paperback]

Lawrence Block
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 12 1994 Matt Scudder Mystery
Private Eye Matthew Scudder gets involved in a case of the rape and murder of a young woman. The woman's husband is the suspect. Scudder finds himself in a world of sleaze, where anything is permitted and everything has its price. This book is winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel.

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From Amazon

Matt Scudder, the recovering alcoholic private eye from The Devil Knows You're Dead and A Ticket to the Boneyard, embarks on another descent into the nightmarish quarters of New York, this time to investigate the sex-for-sale industry. Hired by the brother of an heiress to investigate her rape and murder, Scudder tails her husband to a boxing match and notices another man whom he saw on video a few months earlier on a different case involving a snuff film. As Scudder calls on old friends for assistance and tours New York's dark physical and social landscapes, Block masterfully builds the pressure that leads Scudder to the violent resolution in this winner of the 1992 Edgar Award for best mystery novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this pitch-perfect crime story, now-sober Manhattan PI Matt Scudder--seen last in A Ticket to the Boneyard --embarks on a personal mission as he investigates the death of the wife of TV producer Richard Thurman. Amanda Thurman was sexually assaulted and murdered during a robbery in which her husband was injured. Hired by Amanda's brother, who suspects his brother-in-law of complicity in the murder, Scudder tails the producer to a boxing match where he notices another man whom he believes he saw on tape a few months earlier on a different case involving a snuff film. Although he finally connects Thurman with the masked players in the film (a chilling husband and wife who quote Nietzsche with "New Age gloss"), Scudder can't provide enough evidence for prosecuting either the taped killing or Amanda's murder. Sticking with the case, Scudder explores New York's sex-for-sale industry, calls on such old drinking friends as cop Joe Durkin and criminal Mick Ballou, and attends AA meetings at all hours of the day, all over the city as Block masterfully builds the pressure that leads Scudder to the violent resolution. In his eight earlier appearances, Scudder has been a copy, an unrelenting drinker, a family man; his evolution in Block's series, fraught with ambiguity, is as convincing as a real life. Author tour.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Best noir writer working today! June 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'd never heard of Lawrence Block until I read one of his short stories, "The Merciful Angel of Death" in THE NEW MYSTERY anthology, edited by Jerome Charyn. I liked the story so much that I was thrilled to find he also wrote novels, which led to A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE and Matt Scudder. Since then I've read all of the Scudder mysteries and buy the newest one as soon as I hear about it.
So what's so good about Scudder? He's a great character for one thing. He's a recovering alcoholic, a detective without a license, a former cop who left his wife and kids. And he's got some of the seediest friends you'll ever meet. An albino pimp. Mick Ballou, a bar owner who kills people. A high-classed prostitute girlfriend. Then there's T.J., his street-smart partner with a facility for computers.
Scudder walks or takes the subway wherever he goes. He putters around, drinking coffee, going to AA meetings, donating money to the church (any church) when he gets paid for a case. He never seems to make any progress, but his perambulations give us a chance to see New York. Then he finds a tiny thread here, another there, and before we know he's cooking with gas.
In A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE Scudder takes on the Amanda Thurman murder case. After attending a small dinner party on Central Park West, Richard and Amanda Thurman return to their brownstone on West Fifty-second Street, only to be confronted by burglars who draw guns and herd them into their apartment. They steal his watch, wallet, and Amanda's jewelry, beat Richard, tie him up and tape his mouth; then they rape his wife in front of him. Richard manages to knock the phone off the table, free the tape from his mouth, and call 911. But his wife is dead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scudder Gets Ugly June 13 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series is one of the absolute best P.I. Fiction series out there. He is one of the few that can be compared with the great Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe. And "Dance at the Slaughterhouse" is one of the best and is certainly the most grusome entry in the entire series. Death has always been a preoccupation in the Scudder novels. In New York City, death seems to be Scudder's constant companion as he struggles to remain alcohol free and to keep his life on track. Here he begin two seemingly unconnected cases and follows their meandering leads until they start to connect in some brutally ugly ways. Scudder has come into possession of a genuine snuff film, and he can't get it out of his mind. Ultimately, he encounters a world of sex deviants and children who sell their bodies. Along the way, recurring characters such as gangster Mickey Ballou, call girl Elaine and ex-pimp Chance provide plenty of color.
Block's Scudder series is almost unique among P.I. fiction in that it is able to maintain its edge even as its hero goes through significant life changes. His continuing battle with the bottle provides an added tension that stays in the background like a predator ready to pounce. Overall, this is one of the best Scudder novels and a must read for P.I. fiction fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All the best Block/Scudder qualities are here Sept. 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Among Block's fifteen or so Scudder novels, and about sixty books overall, many are not worth reading, but some stack up quite well against the top output of other mystery novelists. Here, the plotting is relatively complicated, with Block using to good effect the common trick of having two separate cases come together. Scudder's history and present life situation are as usual made integral to the story, and many of the peripheral characters get time in the spotlight, with TJ, who's a lot of fun, being introduced here. Hell's Kitchen is vividly brought to life here, and the story is dark enough to - almost - invite comparison to Andrew Vachss. Sometimes the Scudder novels are mostly about his journey through life, sometimes they tend to degenerate into a series of conversations, sometimes the plots are simple, linear, and seemingly designed to give Block enough reason to crank out another book. This one is very solid. Along with Boneyard and Tombstones, this amonts to something of a renaissance for the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense! Perhaps not for everyone. Feb. 26 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of Lawrence Block. I am a grad. student in philosophy, and i never used to go near mysteries. My grandparents gave me The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (i work on Spinoza), and i have been hooked on mysteries (Lawrence Block in particular--and the Scudder books especially) ever since.
I believe that Dance at the Slaughterhouse is the most powerful and interesting of all of Block's work (with perhaps the exception of a few of the short stories). However, i should add that Dance is certainly not a book to everyone's tastes. It's quite intense.
One aspect of Block's career that i appreciate is the diversity of his talents. The Burglar mysteries and the Tanner mysteries in particular are entertaining in the extreme. The Burglar books fascinate me because of their literary references; the Tanner books because of their political insights. But the Scudder books fascinate me because of their insights about the character of human beings. Consequently, they are often a bit more emotinoally taxing on the reader.
In Dance, Block plumbs the depths to get at some of the complicated relationships between human desire and drives towards violence toward the self as well as against others (and, not incidentally, also to get at the complicated structure that involves the tensions between love and violence as contrary expressions of desire). There's a hard-edge to this work as a consequence.
So while i highly recommend this book, i do so with the qualification that some of Block's other works might be more suitable to some readers (and even most of the other Scudder mysteries are less challenging).
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