Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Long Line of Dead Men (Matthew Scudder #12)” as Want to Read:
A Long Line of Dead Men (Matthew Scudder #12)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Long Line of Dead Men (Matthew Scudder #12)

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,658 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
The winner of multiple Edgar, Shamus, and Maltese Falcon Awards, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Lawrence Block has elevated the detective novel to high art--combining grit with intelligence, suspense with stunning emotional complexity and power. And in unlicensed private investigator Matthew Scudder, he has created a character whose depth and stark humanity is unr ...more
Paperback, 289 pages
Published April 6th 1999 by Harper Paperbacks (first published October 1st 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Long Line of Dead Men, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Long Line of Dead Men

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,512)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Unlicensed detective Matt Scudder is hired by a member of a secret group of men who meet once a year to discuss progress made in their lives. In 1961, the group started out strong with thirty-one members and now, some thirty years later, they’re down to fourteen. It doesn't seem uncommon - people die all the time - but when you look at the circumstances behind a select few deaths, it sure looks like someone has certain members in their cross-hairs. Murders, suicides, accidents - they all add up. ...more
You would think that after a while the business of being a private investigator has to get kind of routine and boring for guys like Matt Scudder who have had long careers. Sure it seems like searching for murderers would never get dull, but I imagine it’s like any other job and eventually even tracking serial killers would be just like filling out another TPS report. But Matt gets a humdinger of a problem in this one that would make even the most bored and jaded detective straighten his tie and ...more
Dan Schwent
Dec 17, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
A club of 31 meets every year to observe the deaths of its members. Only someone is making sure the members don't die of old age and it's up to Matthew Scudder to find out who is behind the killings. Can he stop the murders while there are still club members left?

While it wasn't my favorite Matthew Scudders story, A Long Line of Dead Men was still very enjoyable. I figured out who the killer was about halfway through. The rumplestilskin clue clinched my earlier hunch.

Lawrence Block's writing is
Oct 21, 2012 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a good mystery
Shelves: mystery, male-lead
Number 12 in a series and you would think Block might be running out of ideas. But no--he's an idea genius. The latest mystery surrounds a secret club of 31 men which has been meeting annually for decades. When the club is down to one surviving man, he recruits a group of 30 to carry on the tradition. Why? No one knows. To be a spot to share secrets. To make a connection with history. To acknowledge the passage of time (Or, as Elaine points out, to be masculine). Unfortunately, members have been ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
“I haven't seen her in five years. Well, hell, I haven't had a cigarette in twelve, and I damn well wanted one for a minute there. Sometimes I don't think anybody ever gets over anything.”

It was the quote that stood out for me whilst thoroughly enjoying this twelfth novel in the Matt Scudder series, and amazingly enough it sort of captures the essence of the entire book, not that I knew it at the time. How good is that Block fella? Initially it just made my heart ache for my long line of dead re
Jul 21, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the better PI genre
Recommended to Mark by: Liam Neeson
There is this club of 31 men meeting every first Thursday in May for dinner and talk. And as odds go the members in this club suffer from a grand case of death. They easily beat the odds when it comes to the average mortality rate and for this reason one of its members involves Matt Scudder. Scudder is supposed to figure out if this nature versus the helping hand of men.

The book is once more about Matthew Scudder & Elaine, TJ doing the footwork required in solving any crime. And slowly a pat
James Thane
Jul 14, 2010 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this book again today and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time, even knowing how it ended. A member of an exclusive men's club asks Matt Scudder to investigate what appears to be a very high death rate among the members. Matt doggedly pursues the case, and meets a number of interesting characters along the way. The resolution is a surprise; the ending of the case is very creative; and the book has what is probably the best last line in any Lawrence Block novel.
Jan 11, 2016 Mizuki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I plan to re-read this book, after the recent departure of a close relative, I can feel and better understand a long line of dead men is exactly the thing that tags behind each of us living souls.
Jun 21, 2014 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Scudder is hired by a member of a secret society of thirty-one men that meets once a year to commemorate the members’ deaths. It’s not a tontine – there’s no reward for or benefit to being the last man standing – just a social club of sorts; it’s a mystery, therefore, as to whether and (if so) why the members are being killed off at a remarkable rate, and have been for the past thirty years or so. Some deaths are suicides, some accidents, but could one devious and patient killer be thinning the ...more
Craig Childs
Feb 15, 2015 Craig Childs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since its fifth entry, Eight Million Ways to Die, the Matt Scudder series has enjoyed a remarkable run. The books may vary in style--some are thrillers, some are traditional mysteries, some are literary character pieces with only a wink and nod to the crime genre--but the writing is consistently top-drawer, the characters nuanced, and the plotting inventive. I keep waiting for the letdown entry because no author, not matter how talented, can keep up a series forever. So far, I have reached ...more
A LONG LINE OF DEAD MEN (Unl. Inv.-Matt Scudder-NYC-Cont) - VG
Block, Lawrence - 12th in series

From Fantastic Fiction: One by one, the 31 members of a Manhattan tontine are dying in a bizarre series of "suicides" and violent accidents. Private eye Matt Scudder is hired to identify the murderer before the terrible scheme reaches its bloody and seemingly inevitable conclusion.

Block's Scudder series is my favorite of his and this is even more serious than some. Well-developed, complex characters.
Richard White
May 18, 2016 Richard White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Another winner with a fascinating premise.
One of the best I've read so far in the Scudder series, likely because the premise is inventive and offers rich possibilities. The way it all comes together is clever as well, and you gain a deep appreciation for why Scudder sticks with such a seemingly impenetrable case.
Oct 22, 2014 Ray rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books-read
Second of this Buffalo-born author's stories in the Scudder series that I got to reading after the Liam Neeson film adaptation of Walk Among the Tombstones came out. I give it a solid A for premise but a gentlemen's C for execution:

What if there was an ongoing group of 31 men, chosen seemingly at random, who pledge to meet once a year, honoring all who die in that year, until the 31st is the last standing? (He is then tasked with choosing 30 new men to continue the tradition.) And what if these
Apr 03, 2014 Leew49 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Private detective Matt Scudder, in the 12th novel of the Lawrence Block series, is approached with a case that might be nothing more than a statistical anomaly. A club of 31 male members, all in late middle age, has only fourteen survivors over the past 30 years. Even allowing for disease, accident and the occasional act of violence, their rate of demise is far above the actuarial norm. There is no obvious motive, and--given the secret nature of the club--the most likely suspects are the fourtee ...more
Michael Martz
I don't think I've read any Lawrence Block books in the last 10 years, but he was at one point a favorite of mine. My tastes have changed, I guess, or maybe the competition is better, but A Long Line of Dead Men (written in '94) wasn't good enough to get me back into his work.

It's an interesting mystery- someone may (or may not) be killing the members of a secret club of rich guys, and PI Matthew Scudder is hired by one of the members to figure out what's going on with the high death rate. Scudd
Andrew Smith
If there is such a thing as a bad Scudder book then this is it. It’s not that the tale isn’t an interesting one – it really is one of the strongest plot lines – it’s more that it feels like one of the books Block didn’t lavish enough love on: the phrasings not as crisp and the humour not as sharp. It all feels a bit ‘been there before’. I’m a big fan so I still enjoyed it, but I’ve read much better.
Matt Allen
Oct 31, 2014 Matt Allen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
Block does things a little different with A Long Line of Dead Men--and although it's not among my favorites in the Scudder series, I'm quite glad to see this specific attempt.

Now, there's nothing drastically different in this twelfth Scudder novel. Nothing with the core formula of characters, plot, and setting. The difference with Long Line is just that--it's longer than all the previous Scudder stories. Block really gives this story time to build, to come alive in our minds, and gives readers w
Mar 11, 2015 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the slower Scudder stories, but it still packed a punch, all the way to the end. I am more and more convinced that Scudder has a photographic memory, and that is a cool feature of the character. I can't help but think, and maybe wish, and this is going to sound terrible, that Scudder would pick up the drink again. It's tough to say that because I sympathize with alcoholics and wish nothing but the best for them in their recovery, but from a character standpoint? Scudder was so in ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely Lawrence Block's beast Scudder! Intriguing, thought-provoking plot, deepening characterizations of the continuing characters, powerful statements about approaching one's own death and the impact of others' deaths on a person, and another beloved look at the neighborhoods of NYC. Really a good book!
Rhonda Gilmour
Feb 13, 2015 Rhonda Gilmour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Even though it's set in the 1990s, this hard-boiled detective novel reads like a classic noir gumshoe story. Block kept me guessing right up until the end, and delivered an excellent final twist. I look forward to reading more of his mysteries.
Really enjoyed the entire Matthew Scudder series. I used to live in NYC, and his descriptions/situations always resonate with authenticity. Plus I love the way the relationship evolves with Matt and Elaine.
May 30, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#12 in the Matt Scudder series. "Finalist 1995 Edgar Award for Best Mystery; Finalist 1995 Shamus Award for Best Novel "

Matt Scudder - Scudder is summoned to investigate the curious run of deaths that seem to be afflicting the members of a private club. Not just any private club, mind you, but one whose raison d'etre, in a sense, is death. Thirty men gather once a year to celebrate, well . . . not having died yet. When they do die, eventually, the last survivor appoints 30 new members to keep th
Mar 31, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The wonderful Matthew Scudder returns in the 12th book in the series. And it’s a good one. A serial killer, murdering members of an exclusive club. Matt to the rescue...and he solves his case the same way he always does. A lot of leg work, a lot of questions to which he finds answers. Of course there are the usual returning characters...the lovely Lady Elaine, the robust and hearty Mick Ballou...and Joe Durkin, still fighting crime on the street. And of course there are the usual ethical dilemma ...more
Cris 117
There is this club which is comprised of thirty one men, thirty between the ages of twenty two to thirty two, and one who was eighty five years old. The latter man has gathered them together, being the last survivor of thirty-one men in his own club, one of whom was the survivor of thirty one before that. They have one meeting a year where they all get together and talk.
Then one of the members looks for Matthew Scudder. Now in his fifties, this member is worried because the number of deaths i
This is the twelfth of Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder novels, and while I enjoyed all of the previous ones, I found this one somewhat disappointing.

I have remarked before on how in longer-running series there seems to occur a shift in emphasis away from what the individual installments are ostensibly about and towards the continuing private lives of the protagonists and their friends. The Matthew Scudder series has been following that pattern, and not necessarily ot it’s detriment; A Long Line
Mortimer Randolph
Matt Scudder is starting be a pill to get down.
Over the last several years, I’ve been reading the novels in order. This is number 12.
The first five have a pervasive bleakness, both in the crimes and in the sense that the reader is watching Scudder, the ex-cop and unlicensed PI, sink deeper into alcoholism and the safety of its numbness. Tiny number two, “Time to Murder and Create” (published third but written second), has an ending that many will find particularly unsatisfying.
The sixth, “When t
Apr 26, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of detective novels
This was the last of the Matthew Scudder mysteries that I read. This book was particularly good, as it was as close to an old-fashioned Sherlock Holmes type detective story as Block has written for this series. The premise is really interesting: A club of 31 men meets on the same day every year to read off the names of their members and see who's died. After 30 years some of the members get suspicious that someone is killing them off, and one of them hires Scudder to investigate. It's kind of an ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was probably one of the most interesting books in the Matt Scudder series by Lawrence Block that I have read to date. It definitely had an intriguing plot.

"As a former cop, an ex-boozer, and an unlicensed PI, Matthew Scudder has known death in all its guises. Which is why he has been asked to investigate a baffling, thirty-year run of suicides and suspiciously random accidents that has plagued a very select group of gentlemen."
Aug 27, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
Story about a men's club that meets annually. Years go by and they notice that their mortality rate is way too high. Enter Matt Scudder. It's a good story but I had my problems with this one. Scudder is a tough private eye who is also an alcoholic. Now he has a girlfriend. This book seemed to try to be in part a romance novel. That's not what I'm looking for when I open a crime/mystery novel. It came off preachy about the problems with booze. And for the first time in this series, the identity o ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 83 84 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Green Eagle Score (Parker, #10)
  • Frank Sinatra in a Blender
  • Jimmy The Kid (Dortmunder, #3)
  • Empty Ever After (Moe Prager, #5)
  • Early Autumn (Spenser, #7)
  • Nick's Trip
  • The Mexican Tree Duck
  • Dixie City Jam (Dave Robicheaux, #7)
  • Sideswipe: A Hoke Moseley Novel
  • The Scarlet Ruse (Travis McGee #14)
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 Ticket to the Boneyard (Matthew Scudder, #8)
  • A Dance At The Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder, #9)
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)

Share This Book

“I haven't seen her in five years. Well, hell, I haven't had a cigarette in twelve, and I damn well wanted one for a minute there. Sometimes I don't think anybody ever gets over anything.” 0 likes
More quotes…