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The Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder #11)

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,694 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
The police think yuppie lawyer Glenn Holtzmann was randomly blown away by a deranged derelict. The accused's brother thinks otherwise-and hires Matt Scudder to prove the crazed Vietnam vet innocent. But Scudder's investigation is leading the tormented p.i. into the darkest corners of his own soul. And it threatens to destory everything he believes in... and everyone he lov ...more
Paperback, 337 pages
Published July 2nd 2002 by Avon (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,534)
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James Thane
This is the eleventh entry in Lawrence Block's excellent Matthew Scudder series, and it remains my favorite book in the series. As the story opens, Scudder and his girlfriend, Elaine, are thrown together with a young couple named Glenn and Lisa Holtzmann. Elaine and Lisa are taking a class together; the Holtzmanns live in the same neighborhood as the hotel where Matt lives, and the two couples wind up going out to dinner one night.

Matt is not overly impressed. He and Elaine have little in common
Anthony Vacca
May 06, 2015 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
After the high-octane thrills of the last three Matthew Scudder novels--which found our ex-cop, ex-alcoholic PI immersed in mysteries which pitted him against a series of pathetic yet ultra-dangerous freaks--The Devil Knows Your Dead is a return to the banal murder mysteries of the first few entries in this series that could almost be sold as pitch-black tragicomedies if there wasn't the fact that we had to watch Matthew squirm through several hundred pages of personal dilemmas. In a lot of ways ...more
Dan Schwent
An acquaintance of Scudder's is gunned down at a pay phone and it looks like a homeless man is the culprit. The homeless man's brother hires Scudder to clear him. Scudder's investigation takes him through a world populated with transsexuals and blackmail. Also on Scudder's plate are the pancreatic cancer of his ex-girlfriend, his relationship with Elaine, and the affair he's having with the dead man's wife...

The Devil Knows You're Dead wasn't quite up to par with the rest of the Lawrence Black's
Sep 29, 2012 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sophisticated noir
Shelves: mystery, male-lead, awards
This one redeemed the Scudder series for me. I understand why other readers might feel it doesn't compare with its immediate predecessors: very little violence, no emotional attachment to the victim and almost no blood, although Matt does seem to be in several sorts of emotional danger. However, the emotional subplots are the trimmings that elevate the Scudder series above ordinary noir detective or mystery thriller going for the roller-coaster climb, and its why the Scudder series consistently ...more
Just as Babe Ruth couldn’t hit a home run with every at bat or Joe Montana couldn’t throw a touchdown pass on every throw, even Lawrence Block had to eventually produce a Matt Scudder novel that’s just ‘pretty damn good’ instead of ‘freakin’ awesome’.

A yuppie lawyer gets murdered when making a call at a payphone, and everyone thinks that a homeless and disturbed Vietnam veteran was the killer. Even the vet isn’t sure if he did it or not but admits he could have. The vet’s brother asks Matt to ch
A man is gunned down and the person deemed responsible is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. While the accused’s brother realizes that the evidence is damning, he cannot imagine his brother committing such a horrible act. He remembered meeting a man who identified himself as a detective during an AA meeting and reaches out for his help. The man in question is Matt Scudder and he agrees to take the case even though he has his doubts he’ll make a difference.

As with all the books in Block
Jun 16, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the better PI genre
This novel about Matthew Scudder is quite an interesting one. It starts with the death of a fellow who is known to Scudder but he does not rate too much stock in the gents person. Anyhow the guy is death and the police find a homeless man who was present at the crime-scene with the bullets of the gun in his pocket, an easy solution.
First Scudder gets approached by the brother of the "so-called" killer to find out if he was the killer as it is so out of character.
Secondly the widow has some quest
Apr 12, 2015 Jaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-5-star-books
Another fun episode in the Matthew Scudder series. At first, I was disappointed in the mystery. It seemed like such a let down. But, Lawrence Block twisted the ending and left me with the fun surprise I have come to love with his writing. I also loved the twists and turns in Matthew's personal life in this episode. I liked the way that part of the story ended as well.
Apr 06, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
The Devil Knows You're Dead may be the most skillfully crafted book I've ever read—and until the end, I wasn't even sure I was going to like it. The psychological suspense is excruciating. The characters breathe and bleed. And dozens of details that seem like window dressing end up being critical to the tidy resolution of the several subplots. As for the central corpse, Scudder's search for a motive for the murder results in what has to be one of fiction's most interesting red herrings.

If you're
Sep 19, 2014 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to read mysteries; in fact, if I were told that I could only read one genre for the rest of my life, the mystery might very well be the one I would choose. A good mystery combines strong and believable characters with a well crafted plot sure to keep one thinking with every page.

What I don't like nearly as much is trying to review them. I worry about giving too much information, but on the other hand, if I don't give enough, no one will read the book which defeats one of the main purpose
Craig Childs
Jul 08, 2014 Craig Childs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be one of the most sophisticated and, in its own way, one of the best Matt Scudder novels, at least so far in the series. Scudder's personal journey mirrors New York City itself in the early 1990's. Just as the city streets were being cleaned up under Mayor Giuliani, Scudder too finds himself caught between two worlds-- the bleak, independent loner he has been in the past and the more mature, serene man he capable of becoming. This theme is developed in the murder he is trying to ...more
Matt Allen
Aug 08, 2014 Matt Allen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
It's always stimulating to spend time with Scudder. Even when it's not.

The Devil Knows You're Dead is a perfect example of how character can save plot. This eleventh installment in the Scudder series probably has my least favorite main plot yet. It's a victim that's hard to sympathize with, it's a wrongly (?) accused criminal who's hard to identify with, and the details of the case are really that intriguing. It seems like a case that Scudder wouldn't have gone out of his way to share with us.

Kathleen Hagen
The Devil Knows You’re Dead, by Lawrence Block, a-minus, Narrated by Joe Barrett, Produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from

This is one of the earlier Matthew Scudder books and, as it turns out it’s one I read previously. But it was as enjoyable the second time, and I had forgotten who the murderer was, so it worked out fine. In this book, Matt is asked by a man to find out who shot a man to death. His brother is being blamed and held for the murder and he insists that his brothe
Oct 04, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good entry in the Matthew Scudder series. This one is a lot less hard-core than the previous book A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, but it is a satisfying read nonetheless. In this one, Scudder tries to clear a Vietnam vet from a murder charge he may not have committed. The vet is a street person with severe mental issues who is charged with shooting an acquaintance of Scudder's who was making a call on a public phone in a somewhat questionable area of town. At first, Scudder feels the vet is ...more
Sep 28, 2014 Darren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much of the Scudder series has been about death; the ugliness of it, the injustice, the everpresence. This one is about loss. Jan Keane, Scudder's old flame and the woman without whom he might well have drank himself to death, has cancer, and less than a year to live. She asks Scudder to help her end it. The gift of lead, she quotes.

There is murder as well. There is always murder. And mystery. But loss over all, and the fear of it. All mourning is for ourselves, we are told, by Jim Faber, tha
This one loses some steam at the end as the ultimate conclusion isn't particularly satisfying, but I do appreciate how Block sets up Scudder's entry into this case. He handles Sadecki's mental illness (and its impact on his family) in a deft way, with great sympathy and insight.
Roland Bokor
Jan 17, 2016 Roland Bokor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4
Getting back to the book's world at first was a bit like being afraid to reacquaint with someone you used to know. Fortunately I managed to dive into it pretty quickly, but couldn't develop much interest in the case Matt got hired to clear up this time. Then further in the story it just clicked: I wasn't into this series for the twisted cases, the previous books every now and again offered, but the overall, series lenght character development of the protagonist and his surroundings.

Feb 06, 2015 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I'm on a Scudder tear, and I think I need a little of a break. I read this installment in a record, slow time, but maybe that has to do with other things as well. Anyway, new things afoot in the Scudderverse... most importantly, I think that Scudder has a photographic memory, which brings up all kinds of potential issues with his alcoholism and past life. There was also one story line that bummed my out, which I won't go into detail, but it appears all will be well. This novel was sort of ab ...more
Bev Taylor
Jun 18, 2015 Bev Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a matt scudder mystery

matt was nypd and an alcoholic. now is recovering and a p.i.

he and his girlfriend meet another couple but he does not really relate to the man. then a few months later he is shot dead on the street

the police soon arrest ad charge a man but his brother is convinced he is innocent and asks matt to look into it. he is sceptical but decides to take on the case and starts looking into the murdered man's past

then his widow also enlists his help after finding 300,000$ in the a
Jun 07, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
I like Block's Matt Scudder character, probably because he has flaws and a conscience. This one started out rather slowly but picked up speed so I had to just sit down and finish it! The story takes place after Matt is on the wagon; the earlier stories have him fighting alcoholism in a quite realistic way. Anyone who lives or has visited NYC can probably track his movements online, as he gives street names and corner locations constantly throughout the book.

This isn't a big gory mystery. Block'
Apr 07, 2015 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-thriller
Matthew Scudder is a former cop turned detective whose significant other, Elaine, is a former call girl turned girlfriend (Elaine feels unskilled; after retiring she tries telephone sex but soon realizes that she “can’t even be a telephone whore”). Both Matt and Elaine are very likable people, with a whimsically up-front relationship. We hope for the best for them.

The Devil Knows You’re Dead (1993) is the first in Larry Block’s Matthew Scudder series. It opens with Matt and Elaine having dinner
Rick Hollis
Jul 11, 2014 Rick Hollis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense-mystery
In my quest to read all of the Matthew Scudder books, in order, I lost place of a bit and reread this one.

A drug dealer [importer]'s wife is murdered after he paid the ransom. His brother knows Scudder. Scudder is reluctant to help, knowing what the person does for a living and what he wants to do, once Scudder solves the case. But initial crime was so loathsome, Scudder agrees to help.

I read a review of one of the books in this series describes Scudder as amoral. That is far from being true.
Joe  Noir
Jul 06, 2014 Joe Noir rated it liked it
This is a weak entry in the Matt Scudder series. It starts out in a fairly interesting way, if not exactly strong. Then the author takes his own sweet time in going nowhere. If most private eye novels (if not most mystery/crime/detective novels) are about the journey and not the destination, it seems as if the author got so entranced along the way he forgot where he was going.

A yuppie Matt met a few times is gunned down at a pay phone. A homeless Vietnam vet with mental illness is arrested for
Apr 18, 2010 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing about the Matt Scudder books is that you'll learn a lot about AA and the relationship between an alcoholic and his mentor. This one in particular seems to have more about the different types of meetings, what transpires, and the sub-culture of alcoholics working to stay sober. Now, I'm not a drinker, being overly concerned with control, never wanting to cede what little gray matter I have to some external drug, so I have no way of knowing how accurate or what Block's history with AA mi ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
P.I., Matt Scudder investigates a case that the police believe they have already solved. A well off, young, Manhattan lawyer, Glenn Holtzmann, is shot while using a pay phone. The police believe the shooter is a street person named George Sadecki, a Vietnam veteran who was never able to reintegrate into American society. George’s brother doesn’t believe he is capable of murder and hires Scudder to look into it.

Block has written a tale that leads the reader through many switchbacks, into a few bl
A large part of the appeal of Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series has always (or at least from about the third novel onwards) been to follow the fate of its protagonist, his trying to survive without a regular job, his trying to come to terms with his past as a police officer, and chiefly his struggle with (and quite often succumbing to) his alcoholism.

But this is how it goes – you creat a recurring protagonist for your novels, give him a backstory, and, as no man is an island, some friends,
Aug 17, 2012 Roybot rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, even the worst Scudder books have been pretty damn good. This was my least favorite in the series so far, but I think that speaks at least as much to the quality of the previous books as it does to the quality of this book. This case finds Scudder trying to figure out whether a man arrested for the murder of a man from the neighborhood is actually guilty of the crime.

Much of this book seems to be at least as much about changing the status quo of Scudder's life as it does having him tack
Oct 20, 2013 Leew49 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
When private detective Matt Scudder meets Glenn Holtzmann on a couples date with his girlfriend Elaine Mardell, he takes an instant and vague dislike to the man. It's puzzling because on the surface Holtzmann is clean-cut and innocuous, employed by a publishing firm, living in a high-rise apartment with his beautiful wife Lisa, and interested in Scudder's work. Then one night in Hell's Kitchen Holtzmann is murdered execution style. The police think they have the killer, a homeless Viet Nam veter ...more
Mar 22, 2014 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little longer than previous Scudder books to get hooked on this one...but about half way in, the plot picked up pace and I was back in Scudderland. Block just continues to write a series that is never dull, always surprising...and his characters continue to grow. In this book Matthew takes on a case that at first seems cut and dried. Homeless man kills what appears to be a successful, up and coming young man. But things are not at all what they appear to be...and very soon Scudder i ...more
Another Scudder crime novel. I think this is the second or third one I've read featuring this character. Good but not great. Block really hammers home the same tired points. How many AA meetings does this guy go to? (I counted at least 5 in this book alone).
There really isn't much crime, detective work, or even noire in this book. It's unfairly put in the genre category.
It is light, simple reading though.
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Are readers harder to shock these days? 1 5 Aug 22, 2014 05:48PM  
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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)

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