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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,045 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Now, the Mystery Writers of America's 1994 Grand Master presents another Matthew Scudder novel. In this fascinating case, 30 men have been meeting once a year for years, forming a secret club whose only purpose is to record the passage of time and to toast the joys of life. As these men start dying, it's clear someone is determined to kill them all.
Hardcover, First Edition, 273 pages
Published October 1st 1994 by William Morrow & Company
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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A Long Line of Dead Men is an unusual departure from Block's realistic tales of the New York streets, and I do not believe it is a completely successful one. Still, the central idea of the novel--a gentleman's club with an unusual organizing principal and aim--is as old-fashioned a marvel as anything in Edgar Allan Poe or Arthur Conan Doyle, and Block deserves much credit for the way he brings a gritty feel and considerable credibility to this Arabian Night's style entertainment.

Detective Matt S
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
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
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
James Thane
Mar 24, 2010 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.
Oct 20, 2012 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
Nov 26, 2013 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
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 31 Club. A group of men who meet annually for the sake of celebrating mortality or perhaps life. 31 men who share this exclusive membership which has supposedly been around since Babylonian times. After 30 some odd years since the 1961 pledge, an abnormal number of them have died. Accidents, suicides, murders, ... you name it. One of the surviving members is curious as to why so many of this clique are dead. When you've got mysterious circumstances surrounding an unusual amount of deaths, wh ...more
May 30, 2015 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
Feb 08, 2013 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.
Dec 24, 2011 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
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
It doesn't matter that I knew whodunnit fairly early, I always love reading about Matt's life, friends and detection process. Scudder is a no-frills kind of character whose tales always appeal to me.
Joe  Noir
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A traditional fair play mystery, with traditional clues, and a decidedly non-traditional ending.

One of the best Matthew Scudder books, from a particularly fertile period by author Lawrence Block.

One member of a men’s club, formed decades ago simply to mark the passage of time and note who has passed away, suspects the rate of death among the club’s members is higher than the actuarial charts. He hires Scudder. It turns out the percentage is much higher, but not necessarily telling because of the
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.
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.
Richard White
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Another winner with a fascinating premise.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lawrence-block
"A Long Line of Dead Men" is the 12th Matthew Scudder novel, a most unusual detective series. If you have been reading this series, you, of course, know that Scudder left the police force after a shooting that ended with an innocent child getting killed, that Scudder descended into drink and despair, leaving his job and family behind, but holding court at Armstrong's bar, doing favors such as detective work for friends and friends of friends. After descending into despair and blackouts, he found ...more
There's a murder mystery somewhere in this novel. It's like one Agatha Christie or Rex Stout might cook up: someone is killing the members of a small secret society of powerful men, so secretive a group that the killer could only be one of them. But that whodunit is almost superfluous. At this point in the Scudder series, what Block is really interested in is Scudder's relationships, his views on life as a recovering alcoholic, and the joys and sorrows of everyday NYC. (The city is as much a cha ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterpiece. Wonderfully satisfying.
Craig Childs
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Another great book by Lawrence Block. Matthew Scudder # 12 finds the sober P.I. investigating a string of untimely deaths within an unusual group of men. Quite an engaging mystery!
Peter N.
Scudder is one of my favorite detectives so far. Part of the appeal is how old school the books are. No cell phones or Internet. They are still using beepers and land lines to communicate. Plus there are times where Block introduces longish conversations between Scudder and his girlfriend or a friend at the bar. These conversations add a realness to the books.

However, I found this book too slow, I knew the plot twist early, and the ending was not entirely plausible. So this one only gets 3 star
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.
Jun 04, 2014 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!
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.
Rhonda Gilmour
Feb 13, 2015 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.
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't enjoying this one as much as the previous 11 Scudder books that I have read but then it goes and redeems itself in the last 80 or so pages with a great clever ending - so yet another 4 stars. What a fantastic series this is.
Brian O'Leary
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scudder is a great lead character, worth reading just for him.
Lukasz Pruski
"Every man in this room, every man ever born, spends his life approaching his death. Every day he takes another step in death's direction. It is a hard road to walk alone, a much easier road to walk in good company."

From Lawrence Block's earlier novels, particularly the memorable duo of The Sins of the Fathers and Eight Million Ways to Die, I remember Matthew Scudder, an ex-cop turned unlicensed private investigator, as a "practising" alcoholic. In A Long Line of Dead Men (1994) Mr. Scudder has
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I am reading Block's Scudder novels in order, my library did not have No. 11, The Devil Knows You Are Dead, so I skipped ahead to No. 12. Ten years sober, Matt is now engaged to Elaine and mostly living with her although he maintains his hotel room as an office. He also has a relationship with a widow who was a central figure in the previous novel I missed.
In this outing, Matt is retained by some wealthy members of a "club" originally consisting of 31 mostly wealthy men in their 50s w
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Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess (oh, wretched excess!) of 100 books, and no end of short stories.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., LB attended Antioch College, but left before completing his studies; school authorities advised him that they felt he’d be happier elsewhere, and he thought this was remarkably perceptiv
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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“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.” 1 likes
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