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The Devil Knows You're Dead Hardcover – Large Print, Mar 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 491 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Lrg edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786231092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786231096
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 14.5 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 676 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Booklist

There's a new trend afoot in the series mystery. Mickey Spillane, Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, and their investigating cohorts seldom changed from book to book. Part of their appeal, in fact, was their consistency. Contemporary series authors, however, such as Bill Pronzini, Robert P. Parker, Joseph Hansen, and Lawrence Block, have taken the series character a step further, allowing growth and change to occur to the hard-boiled hero just as they do to ordinary mortals. Block's recovering alcoholic Matt Scudder is a perfect example. Once isolated by guilt, angst, and booze, Scudder was the quintessential loner. Now, as his never-ending recovery continues, his world has begun to expand. He has a true friend in Mick Ballou, a sidekick in street urchin T. J., and a lover in former hooker Elaine. Hired by the brother of a mentally handicapped vet accused of the murder of attorney Glenn Holtzmann, Scudder finds that the victim was both less and more than he appeared to be. Much to his surprise--because he loves Elaine--Scudder becomes involved with Holtzmann's widow. The resolution of the case is a logical surprise that will leave readers contemplating an indifferent universe. Though Scudder's world is as bleak as it's ever been, he's letting a little sun shine through. It's nice to see a friend happy. Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Mysteries of the heart eclipse those of the street in Matt Scudder's quietly compelling new case, which finds the p.i. avoiding the wrenching physical violence of his last few outings (A Walk Among the Tombstones, etc.) but falling prey to all sorts of emotional havoc. The crime on which Block hangs Scudder's latest study in angst is the apparent shooting death of attorney Glenn Holtzmann by deranged homeless vet George Sadecki. Despite strong evidence of Sadecki's guilt, the accused's brother hires Scudder to look into the case--which the unlicensed p.i. does, discovering that Holtzmann, far from being a clean-cut yuppie, was actually a professional rat for various federal agencies and may have been slain by one of his targets. Scudder's gumshoeing is dogged but not very exciting--lots of phone calls and interviews--and serves mostly to put him in contact with old series regulars and one likely new one, a sympathetic transvestite, as well as with Holtzmann's widow, with whom he starts an affair despite his commitment to longtime girlfriend Elaine: The widow proves as addictive as booze and in fact may drive Scudder back to drink, especially if he keeps indulging in moody midnight gabfests with Irish gangster Mick Ballou and brooding over a WW I poem about breaking faith with those who've died. Meanwhile, in an equally introspective subplot, Scudder's old flame Jan Keane is dying of cancer and asks Scudder to get her a suicide-gun, which he does. Will she choose life, however painful, instead of the bullet's oblivion? Will Scudder resist the bottle and widow and do the same? The murder finally resolves through a quirk of fate: Can Scudder command his own fate? Those who can take or leave Scudder will probably leave this gathering of shadows: loyalists, though, will hang on every word as Scudder makes his fascinatingly uncertain way through an increasingly uncertain world. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Let me preface by saying I'm a huge Scudder fan, so the three star rating is compared to the entirety of the Scudder saga. In this entry, the clean and ostensibly happily domesticated Scudder is hired by a vagrant's brother to clear the vagrant of a shooting. The victim happens to be a distant acquaintance of Scudder's, and though Matt didn't like the guy much, he ends up having a desultory kind of affair with his widow. Meanwhile the accused killer is himself killed in prison, leaving a stubborn Scudder to attack the closed case (or as his cop friend puts it, "trying to give a dead horse mouth-to-mouth resuscitation" --- love that noir dialogue). This is only an average Scudder entry, which means that it's a bleak look at a seedy world, rife with witty dialogue and sharp insights into AA philosophy. Probably because the case here is so cold, however, a lot of drama in the sense of personal danger or action is lacking. There's much of the traditional amoral, detatched soul-searching, which is terrific, but none of the rough justice Scudder usually hands out.
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Format: Paperback
As if Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series wasn't already the quirkiest private detective series around, "The Devil Knows You're Dead," is Scudder's most unconventional story yet. Superficially, the novel is about Scudder's attempt to prove that a deranged homeless man did not randomly gun down a successful lawyer. But actually, the novel is a dissertation about death and the choices one makes in life. During his investigation, Scudder's ex-girlfriend Jan Keane discloses to him that she has terminal cancer and asks him to procure a gun so that she can end her life before the pain consumes her. Meanwhile, Scudder and his current love, the former call girl Elaine Mardell, are moving closer together, even as Scudder becomes more restless and Elaine begins to question the direction of her own life. To top it off, Scudder's restlessness causes him to begin an affair with the dead lawyer's wife that he is ashamed of but unable to stop. This causes him to question whether he will be able to continue his sobriety despite over ten successful years in AA.
All of this accompanies a mystery that is interesting in and of itself, but not nearly as menacing as most Scudder mysteries. The recurring charater of the street kid TJ also shows some progression in his life during the story while assisting Scudder's investigation. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this novel as the place to start reading Scudder since to truly enjoy it requires a lot of the previous background of the characters. But for those who already know how good the Scudder novels are it is a must read.
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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. But that was years and probably took place sometime in the past before the first Matt Scudder novel. "The Devil Knows You're Dead," is Block's 11th in the series. (As of this writing there are 13.) This is a fast paced story in which Scudder finds he is asked to solve the death of a Yuppie lawyer living in an area of Hell's Kitchen. Matt and his girlfriend Elaine spent an evening and Glenn Holtzmann, the lawyer, and his wife Lisa. From the beginning Matt doesn't like Glenn. Glenn is killed and a homeless vet is arrested and accused of the murdering Glenn. Scudder is asked to prove that the vet didn't do the crime by his brother. Of course one thing leads to another as the truth unfolds. The relationship between Elaine, Matt's girlfriend becomes more serious as they plan on buying an apartment together. TJ, the streetwise African-American teen is back assisting Scudder. As I have said in other reviews of Matt Scudder novels. They are like potato chips. You can't quit after one.
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Format: Paperback
The Devil Knows You're Dead is a very well written book that held my interest throughout -- however, I have been a big fan of this series from the beginning. Mystery fans who are looking for lots of action and suspense may want to skip this book. Relative to several of the other books in this series, there is considerably less physical violence and more --much more-- of a concentration on the emotional havoc and angst that Matthew Scudder is experiencing as he makes his way through his topsy-turvy world. The cases Scudder is working on in The Devil Knows You're Dead are interesting but they are not exciting and action-based. So, if this is what you're looking for in a mystery you probably should choose another book. If you enjoy great character development, interesting and likable secondary characers, vivid and accurate descriptions of the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton section of NYC, then treat yourself to this very good book. Keep in mind it's not the best book in this series but it's one I think you'll enjoy. However, I would strongly recommend that if you haven't read any of the books in this series, you first read at least one or two of the earlier books (e.g., When The Scared Ginmill Closes, A Ticket To The Boneyard, A Dance At The Slaughterhouse, A Walk Among The Tombstones, etc.) before reading The Devil Knows You're Dead. These books will familiarize you what the world of Matthew Scudder has been like. This book serves pretty much as a vehicle to further evolve the main character of Matthew Scudder and to let you know where he's moving to in his life.
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