Lawrence Block

A Long Line of Dead Men

From Publishers Weekly

The newest Matt Scudder novel by the blessedly prolific Block is right up to his usual standards. It takes a while to set up the situation (someone in an exclusive male dinner club that meets once a year is killing off the members at an alarming rate), but once it's established, Matt gets his man by his usual patient attention to detail and sheer doggedness. He almost misses him, however (giving rise to a matchless last line), and the punishment meted out to the villain is a highly unusual variant on the kind Scudder thinks up when the law, as sometimes happens, is helpless to act. His ex-call girl companion, Elaine, is her usual comforting self, and there's a brilliant portrait of an offbeat New York lawyer, obviously modeled on William Kunstler, who specializes in representing the underdog. The scene where the lawyer and suspicious ex-cop Scudder get to know and like each other is alone worth the price of the book. Those who become impatient with Scudder's determined pursuit of AA meetings-and it's possible to do so-should note his publisher's assertion that he now has a strong following not only among mystery buffs but also in 'the recovery community.'

Matthew Scudder, #12

This is for Jerrold Mundis.

It's also for Phil Brothman, Jerry Carp, Jerry Carrel, Joel Daniels, Eddie Fischman, Paul Gandel, Steve Greenberg, Mel Hurwitz, Symmie Jacobson, Artie Judelsohn, Don Kohnstamm, Bruce Kramer, Dave Krantz, Lew Lansky, Dick Lederman, Dave Leff, and Dave Stiller, and in memory of Rett Goldberg and Mike Woldman.

I that in heill wes and gladnes,

Am trublit now with gret seiknes,

And feblit with infermitie;

Timormortis conturbat me.

Our plesance here is all vain glory,

This fals world is but transitory,

The flesche is brukle, the Feynd is slee;

Timormortis conturbat me.

The stait of man does change and vary,

Now sound, now seik, now blith, now sary,

Now dansand mery, now like to dee;

Timormortis conturbat me.

No stait in Erd here standis sicker;

As with the wynd wavis the wicker,

Wavis this warldis vanitie;

Timormortis conturbat me.

On to the dead gois all Estatis,

Princis, prelotis, and Potestatis,

Baith rich and pur of all degree;

Timormortis conturbat me.

He sparis no lord for his piscence,

Na clerk for his intelligence;

His awfull straik may no man flee;

Timormortis conturbat me.

Sen he hes all my brether tane,

He will nocht lat me lif alane,

On force I mun his next prey be;

Timormortis conturbat me.


Lament for the Makers

Look at the mourners;

Bloody great hypocrites!

Isn't it grand, boys, to be bloody well dead?

Let's not have a sniffle

Let's have a bloody good cry!

And always remember the longer you live

The sooner you'll bloody well die!

– An Irish lullaby


It must have been around nine o'clock when the old man stood up and tapped his spoon against the bowl of his water glass. Conversations died around him. He waited until he had full silence, then took another long moment to scan the room. He took a small sip of water from the glass he'd been tapping, set it on the table in front of him, and placed his hands palm-down on either side of the glass.

Standing as he did, with his angular frame tilted forward, his thin beak of a nose jutting out, his white hair swept straight back and combed down flat, his pale blue eyes magnified by thick lenses, he put Lewis Hildebrand in mind of a figure carved on the prow of a Viking ship. Some great idealized bird of prey, scanning the horizon, seeing for miles and miles, for years and years.

'Gentlemen,' he said. 'Friends.' He paused, and again worked the room's four tables with his eyes. 'My brothers,' he said.

He let the phrase echo, then leavened the solemnity with a quick smile. 'But how could we be brothers? You range in age from twenty-two to thirty-three, while I have somehow contrived to be eighty-five years old. I could be the grandfather of the oldest man here. But tonight you join me as part of something that stretches across years, across centuries. And we shall indeed leave this room as brothers.'

Did he pause for a sip of water? Let's suppose that he did. And then he reached into a pocket of his suit jacket

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