An Old Friend Of The Family


“I dialed it now, and the machine picked up. I listened to a dead man’s voice. I hung up, wondering how long it would be before someone unplugged the machine, how long before the telephone company cut off the phone service. You don’t die all at once. Not anymore. These days you die a little at a time.”

Lawrence Block, A Drop of the Hard Stuff


Upon starting the latest book in the Mat Scrudder series, The Night and The Music, I settled into a night with an old friend, a friend with whom I’d lived some of the worst trials of his life. If you’ve never read a Lawrence Block mystery, you don’t know what you are missing. I’ve gotten rid of perhaps 75% – 80% of my books in the last few years, but this is one series I will always keep on my shelf. As with all of Mr Block’s characters, Matt has his own distinctive voice which I would recognize anywhere, even if there was no title or hints of any kind.

If you watched the movie, A Walk Among The Tombstones, based on the book of the same name, I’m afraid you didn’t get the full impact of Mr. Scrudder.  I know, the movie did get some good reviews.  For me, however, Liam Neeson, as good an actor as he is, is not Matt.  After living so many years with the character, it would be impossible to find the right actor for the part.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, but more as a good mystery than one based on a well-loved book.

During the length of the series, Matt turns from alcoholic cop to an alcoholic ex-cop, attempting to cope with the guilt of a stray bullet killing a child during a robbery.  Eventually, he come to terms with sobriety.  During this time, he works as an unlicensed private investigator following his own odd brand of justice instead of the judicial system.

This book, the 18th in the series, is a chronological list of short stories taken from different years of Matt’s life. I particularly enjoyed the forward written by Brian Koppelman.  His words reminded me of my first meeting with Matt Scrudder and how I knew, at that time, I would be reading the series for a very long time.

To see a list of all the books in the series, go here:

“I thought, My name is Matt and I’m an alcoholic. A woman I know got killed last night. She hired me to keep her from getting killed and I wound up assuring her that she was safe and she believed me. And her killer conned me and I believed him, and she’s dead now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And it eats at me and I don’t know what to do about that, and there’s a bar on every corner and a liquor store on every block, and drinking won’t bring her back to life but neither will staying sober, and why the hell do I have to go through this? Why?”

Lawrence Block, Eight Million Ways to Die

“Something I learned long ago. It is not necessary to know what a person is afraid of. It is enough to know the person is afraid.”

Lawrence Block, The Sins of the Fathers

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