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A Ticket to the Boneyard (Matthew Scudder #8)

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,339 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Twelve years ago, Matthew Scudder lied to a jury to put James Leo Motley behind bars. Now the ingenious psychopath is free. And the alcoholic ex-cop-turned-p.i. must pay dearly for his sins. Friends and former lovers -- even strangers unfortunate enough to share Scudder's name -- are turning up dead. Because a vengeful maniac is determined not to rest until he's driven his ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1990)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jun 24, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A sick sonovabitch woman-hating torture-freak like James Leo Motley deserved to be behind bars. That's what NYPD cop Scudder thought twelve years ago when—with the help of two whores' false testimony—he framed him and sent him “up the river” to Dannemora. But now Motley is loose again, one of those whores has been tortured and murdered, and private eye Scudder has begin to fear for every woman he has ever loved.

What I like best about this book is that Motley is so evil, and so gifted in everythi
Dan Schwent
A psychopath Matthew Scudder framed years ago when he was still a cop has gotten out of jail and is looking for revenge, killing Scudder's women friends one by one. Can Scudder stop him before he becomes another of the killer's victims?

Holy crap! James Leo Motley was the scariest villain I've run into a long time, far from a mustache twirling James Bond villain. He's crazy and nigh unstoppable. A few times while I was reading, I had to look over my shoulder and make sure he hadn't slipped into m
Back when Matt Scudder was a hard-drinking New York cop, he had a *ahem* special relationship with a high-class prostitute named Elaine. He helped her out with problems like taking care of a john who had the bad manners to die of a heart attack while in the middle of a transaction. In exchange, Elaine provided services for Matt.

After Elaine was robbed, beaten and raped by a sadistic misogynist named John Leo Motley, she called Matt for help, and Scudder responded by getting Motley sent to priso
James Thane
Like the previous seven novels in this series, A Ticket to the Boneyard is a great read. Unlike its predecessors, though, this one is more of a thriller than a mystery novel. And unlike the others, in this case Matthew Scudder is effectively his own client.

Twelve years earlier, while Scudder was still a detective in the NYPD, a psycho named James Leo Motley assaulted an escort named Elaine Mardell and insisted that she now belonged to him. Elaine was a friend of Scudder's; the two had been intim
Richard Vialet
A Ticket to the Boneyard is a whole new ballgame in the Matt Scudder series. After allowing Matt to confront his alcoholism in Eight Million Ways to Die and focusing on him dealing with sobriety in Out on the Cutting Edge , author Lawrence Block now has a blank slate and the space to really take Matt's story in any direction. But one would think that after your private detective character sobers up, the stories are in real danger of becoming flat and boring. Not so with Block's series! Becaus ...more
Back when Matthew Scudder was still officially with the fuzz, he wasn’t exactly a stickler for the official rules. He did, however, have a set of his own, including the notion that if someone offers to buy you “a new hat,” you accept.* Officer Scudder wasn’t above keeping company with women in the oldest profession, and one in particular, Elaine .

Friends of Matt S. (since he’s working the steps, I’ll use the program’s preferred nomenclature) likely know from previous volumes, that Scudder-br
Aug 27, 2012 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scudder fans
I am not the target audience for this book.

1) I'm a chicken when it comes to horror/thriller.
2) In Ticket, Block experiments with a thriller plot of a sadistic freak stalking Scudder and Elaine for revenge. Yes, they set him up, but they were totally justified, because he was stalking prostitutes, assaulting and raping them and trying to use mind Jedi tricks to convince them to let him be their pimp for good. No cop thought the charges would stick because, you know, this is a New York jury: they

This was less of a Matt Scudder mystery and more of a Matt Scudder thriller! James Leo Motley plays the first truly aggressive adversary he's ever faced, almost like an insane arch-nemeses in a way. This guy really hates Scudder, to the point where he wants to kill him and everyone he cares about. Talk about a grudge!

The whole thing dates back to a situation where Motley had been harassing Scudder's on again-off again call-girl/girlfriend, Elaine, a few years back. The only way that Scudder
Aug 03, 2011 Mohammed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most chilling, unsettling Scudder novel so far.

Motley is a creepy villain and still plausible, normaly i dislike the sick serial killer type villain.
Block brought back in the story the high-class prostitute named Elaine that Scudder use to be close with. That along with Scudder's new friendship with Mick Ballou, an Irish gangster made the story extra interesting and Matt less of depressing loner. Scudder in this series destroys the cool lone wolf type hero. He is a depressing loner
Jul 23, 2014 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Scudder vs the psychotic serial killer AKA Ticket to the Boneyard is Lawrence Block's take on the highly popular James Patterson-esque cat and mouse sub-genre of crime fiction. Because it's Block you know straight off that it's not going to be the same simple structure and the same definitions of good and evil will not apply for his characters, especially Matt Scudder, former cop turned unofficial private eye.

JL Motley is a son of a bitch of the highest order, misogynist in the extreme and incre
Mar 21, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite so far of this great series.
Lots of unexpected turns in the plot and a very satisfactory ending and most importantly, the scariest psychopathic bad guy ever !
Like the way that Scudder's character has developed throughout the series and enjoyed this one all the more for having read the previous 7 books but if you were to read just one of the series, this would be the one that I would recommend.
Completely unputdownable at times - almost missed my bus stop and ended up at the airport y
Ty Wilson
I was introduced to the Matthew Scudder series a bit less than 2 years ago and this is the 8th book of his I've read. I keep coming back to this series because the writing is crisp and the characters really leap off the page. This book is no different. Scudder and the various denizens of New York City ring true in a way that few writers can achieve. Scudder is still fighting his own demons, a war he's taking one day at a time. In between AA meetings, Scudder's past comes back to haunt him in the ...more
Dec 25, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The eighth (of 17) Matt Scudder book is a grueling exercise in revenge. A truly bad man is out to kill anyone whom Matt Scudder holds dear as a friend, lover, or family member because Scudder (and his hooker friend, Elaine) put him away twelve years earlier, partly on manufactured though justified evidence. Motley (what a name) should have served much more time than he did given his violently depraved nature and behavior, but he's out and a major threat. Given that we know who he is and what mot ...more
Richard White
May 06, 2016 Richard White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Gripping murder mystery and like the previous entries another winner from block.
Feb 17, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A psycho seeking revenge, a call girl, and a career criminal. And of course, Matt Scudder. Wrap all of this up and you have the makings of a book that will keep you on the edge and totally unable to put the book down, not even to go and do the laundry that so desperately needs to be done.

On a good note, Matt is doing quite well in the no-drinking department:

"My name is Matt and I'm an alcoholic, and my hangovers used to be bad, too. I figured I was done with them in sobriety, so I felt a little
Scott Cumming
Jan 07, 2016 Scott Cumming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
{Minor Spoilers ahead}

When planning my reading for the start of this year there was a very good reason for going with the next instalment of Lawrence Block's Scudder novels. It's slowly dawned on me that both Block and Scudder have navigated themselves from curiosities to firm favourites in my reading shelves often with the contemplation of how good the previous novel was lingering on whilst I'm reading other books.

A Ticket to the Boneyard takes us into new territory for the series with this bei
Jul 12, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scudder must face a psychopathic killer he framed years ago, who vowed to get even with him “and all your women.” The bodies start to pile up before Scudder, outmatched in strength and perhaps in wiles, can get together a defense.

This might be the best Scudder yet. Compared to the adolescent fantasies of Spenser, the characters are gritty, believable and fleshed out. This in turn helps the drama. While you know Spenser will outmatch everyone (yawn), Scudder, an Everyman struggling with his demon
Sep 23, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robust though not my favorite entry in the hardboiled Matt Scudder series. We watch the tenacious Matt's day-to-day grind to stay off the devil's rum in NYC. Violence only erupts at key points in the plot. Wonderful voice and setting. Worth re-reading, if time permits it.
Steven Montano
Jun 09, 2016 Steven Montano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many years ago, retired Detective turned (sort of) private investigator Matt Scudder put a dangerous man behind bars. Now he's back...and he's going to make every woman in Matt's life pay...

While light on the mystery elements, "A Ticket to the Boneyard" is one of Block's finer character studies of his ex-alcoholic protaganist. Nearly every scenes radiates Matt's scars and regrets, compounded by his belief that a past attempt to do some good might have created a true monster.

This was at times a
Oct 21, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lawrence Block knows what he's doing and he does it well. This is a worthy addition to the Matthew Scudder series. Scudder is a recovering alcoholic, ex-cop who lives in a low-rent residential hotel and earns his living as an unlicensed private investigator.

A Ticket to the Boneyard is the 8th Lawrence Block novel to feature Matthew Scudder. This book finds Matthew Scudder doing well with his sobriety. He's got a semi-regular gig working as an operative for a large detective agency and while lif
Jan 17, 2016 Maddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tops, 2016-reads
SERIES: #8 of 18
WHY: Twelve years ago, cop Matt Scudder lied to a jury to put James Leo Motley into prison. Now Motley is out and seeking vengeance by killing anyone close to Matt, reserving Scudder for last. He is extremely clever and one of the most reprehensible villains ever. An excellent plot and characterization. This series is one of my very favorites.
Fred Forbes
Feb 07, 2015 Fred Forbes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been awhile since I read a Matthew Scudder novel but a Goodreads friend recommended this highly so it became my lunch book for the last couple of weeks. Compelling tale and characters though a bit heavy on the AA material (my Dad was a member for 33 years) but well done and accurate. Nasty villain and well drawn characters and plot. I'll be back for more!
Jul 23, 2015 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When a psychopath from his past targets Scudder and his mistress, Scudder prints up some fliers and goes to a bunch of AA meetings.


There's one point in the book--right after Scudder and his former mistress reignite their old flame--when the story seems to pick up some suspense. Knowing that old trope, we figure the psychopath will kill the girl and then it will be a revenge tale. What follows is a series of murder victims that Scudder doesn't even know (James Leo Watley is apparently
Tim Warner
Aug 18, 2012 Tim Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Lawrence Block. I really like him and will definitely contiunue with him. His character walks the same streets as Vacch's Burke, but manages to rise a bit higher and out of the gutter than Burke, whom I also love. Someone called Block a genius (here on Goodreads.) I can see why. There doesn't seem to be a wasted sentence. There doesn't seem to be a sentence without some deep emotion or otherwise thoughtful inspiration. Yes I know, it's all about violence and sex and catching the ...more
Jun 29, 2016 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one has a truly terrifying bad guy who has already gotten the best of Scudder once, so the stakes are very high in the denouement. On the other hand, it's written first person, so we know Scudder is going to make it. (As the smart-assed girl narrating The Opposite of Sex tells us in the audience:, "What? You thought I'd be the dead one? I'm the narrator. Try to keep up.") I admire Block for his tight plots and careful construction, but the suspense in this one lay in whether people you care ...more
Apr 28, 2016 Piker7977 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
At 11pm, on a rainy Tuesday evening, I opened this book for the first time. At 2:15am Wednesday morning, I'm making sure my front door is locked.

A Ticket to the Boneyard is a powerhouse crime novel which, unlike the previous Scudder books, centers around a chase rather than a mystery. Fallout from Scudder's past relations and police activities resurface as an ex-prostitute is found murdered in Ohio. The victim was a colleague of Scudder's "friend" from long ago, another lady of the night who had
After the uneasy settling-in of #7 in this series, OUT ON THE CUTTING EDGE, where Block seemed to be working through what to do with his newly sober protagonist, #8 A TICKET TO THE BONEYARD goes full-throttle adrenaline. It's really nothing like the prior books in the series, and I can't tell if that'S a good thing or a bad thing--it may to some extent depend on what comes in the next few books. This novel introduces James Leo Motley, an almost super-villian-like bad guy, and the novel is a brut ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Leo Motley is angry and out to get revenge. Years ago, Matt Scudder helped send him to jail. In the process Scudder framed Motley, because he wanted him to go away for a long time.

Motley had it coming. He is a man who likes to hurt women. One of the women he has attacked is Elaine Mardell, an upscale call-girl, and Scudder's long time friend and lover.

Before Motley went to prison he swore to get even, not just with Scudder but with all of his women. Now, Motley is out of prison and is on t
Nov 19, 2009 Chana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
An outdated, violent, smutty-talking stalker thriller. I have read Lawrence Block books before and never did take to the violence. I kind of like our AA attending, coffee drinking Private Detective Scudder but there really isn't much entertainment value here. Detective Scudder spends some time telling us what is wrong with police departments and that is probably the only thing that I actually enjoyed in the book, that and him pouring a bottle of whiskey down the sink.
Jul 28, 2015 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoying this series: Hard boiled non-detective, detective fiction. Although I read it, I am always a little disturbed by a crime series where the main character is a licensed "p.i." who investigates murders. Per Michael Connelly who worked as a crime reporter in Los Angeles for several years, there aren't any....Private Investigators primarily investigate cheating spouses and insurance fraud. I am fond of detective fiction where the main character has a day job (salvage expert-Travis McG ...more
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Received the Shamus Award, "The Eye" (Lifetime achievment award) in 2002.

From his web site:

I'm told every good author website needs a bio, so here's mine:

"Lawrence Block's novels range from the urban noir of Matthew Scudder (A Drop of the Hard Stuff) to the urbane effervescence of Bernie Rhodenbarr (The Burglar on the Prowl), while other characters include the globe-trotting insomniac Evan Tanne
More about Lawrence Block...

Other Books in the Series

Matthew Scudder (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1)
  • Time to Murder and Create (Matthew Scudder, #2)
  • In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder, #3)
  • A Stab in the Dark (Matthew Scudder, #4)
  • Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5)
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6)
  • Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder, #7)
  • A Dance At The Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder, #9)
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)
  • The Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder, #11)

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“Forcible sodomy and illegal entry, you put them both down and you get a jury confused. They figure it’s two ways of saying the same thing.” 1 likes
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