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

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,262 ratings  ·  73 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)
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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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a good mystery
Shelves: male-lead, mystery
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
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
James Thane
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.
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
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
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.
Matt Allen
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
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.
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Lawrence Block's best Matthew Scudder novel yet. In this one Matt has stopped drinking by joining AA. He attends meetings every day, sometimes two or three times a day. He is living with Elaine, a former call girl, and his life has new meaning. His case this time is brought by a member of a group of thirty-one men who meet once a year to honor anyone who has died that year. Supposedl7y, the impetus for the club dates back to ancient times. When the leader realizes more of the men have died than ...more
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!
Katherine Clark
This book had a great premise, one that I would consider worthy of a traditional mystery. I thought it was interesting in the last book that Block seemed to be moving away from such extreme noir and coarseness, and this continued in this book. I thought he might be playing with different subgenres. For me, what kept this from being a 4 is that I don't think I like the way he writes women (the last scene with Elaine is so incredibly annoying, I can't stand it), and, as with many of the classic tr ...more
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.
Chris Rhatigan
I'm a big fan of Block but I couldn't get into this one. The dialogue is as sharp as always, but I found the premise less interesting.
great story but expected a different ending. Matt Scudder is a great character with flaws but at same time gets the job done.
Bill Mazzola
every book in this series has been well above average, but this was his best since eight million ways to die.
First book I read from this author. The title intrigued me. Good story with a resolution I did not predict.
Christopher Bevard
I felt like the ending of this was a bit of a gamble, but it worked in context.
Honestly, I think this one is much better than the "the devil knows you're dead"
Joyce McKune
Matt is a humble man, but he always gets the job done. Even one as imposable as as this one.
The Matt Scudder mysteries are Turing into some of my favorites.
The best Matthew Scudder I've read so far.
Evie Woolmore
Full disclosure, again - I know Lawrence Block and he has been a terrific mentor to me. This is probably my favourite of his Scudder novels, mostly for its cleverness of plot. The ending is one of the darkest of all the Scudder endings, and even though I know 'who did it' I read it once a year or so just for the sheer pleasure of the read. Unlike the New York of the Burglar books, the ditzy village and the classy upper 70s and 80s, Scudder's is the darker in-between, mid-town New York, still as ...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 Ticket to the Boneyard (Matthew Scudder, #8)
  • A Dance At The Slaughterhouse (Matthew Scudder, #9)
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder, #10)
The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1) Eight Million Ways to Die (Matthew Scudder, #5) Hit Man (Keller, #1) When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matthew Scudder, #6) Burglars Can't Be Choosers (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #1)

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