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In the Midst of Death

(Matthew Scudder #3)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,868 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Bad cop Jerry Broadfield didn't make any friends on the force when he volunteered to squeal to an ambitious d.a. about police corruption. Now he'saccused of murdering a call girl. Matthew Scudder doesn't think Broadfield's a killer, but the cops aren't about to help the unlicensed p.i. prove it -- and they may do a lot worse than just get in his way.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Avon (first published 1976)
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Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hookers...blackmail...murder...police corruption...S&M fetishes...politics...and lots...and lots...and LOTS of
Welcome to another scintillating episode in the 80-proof life of New York's favorite unlicensed private detective.

Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder series is about as close to a sure thing as you're gonna find in the mystery/crime jurisdiction. Not only is Scudder one of the most exceptionally well-drawn characters populating the genre, but Block is adept at devising smart, attention
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lawrence Block’s character Scudder, is an unlicensed private eye. He used to be a cop. Then one day when chasing some bad guys, while involved in a shootout, a bullet from his gun ricocheted and hit a young girl in the head killing her. Scudder's life fell apart and he is now pretty much an alcoholic.

We join Scudder after having divorced his wife and leaving his two sons. He is now living in a cheap hotel and occasionally helping out his friends with their problems, using his old cop skills to e
Bill  Kerwin

Crooked cop Jerry Broadfield is cooperating with a special investigator, and now—in retaliation for squealing?—he is being hassled by high class call-girl Paula Carr who claims Broadfield has been shaking her down. Broadfield hires Matt Scudder to convince Carr to lay off, and Matt's former colleagues in the department aren't pleased to see him working for a snitch. But soon their anger is the least of Matt's worries when the Broadfield case is complicated by murder and a sudden love affair.

Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the third book* of this excellent series by Lawrence Block, ex-cop Matt Scudder continues to work as an unlicensed private detective in Manhattan and spend most of his free time abusing his liver in various bars.

A cop named Jerry Broadfield has volunteered to give testimony regarding NYPD corruption, but his credibility is in doubt when a high priced call girl accuses him of extorting her. Matt doesn’t like Broadfield much and doubts his sincerity in claiming that he came forward because he
James Thane
This is the third book in Lawrence Block's excellent Matthew Scudder series. For those who may not know, Scudder is a former cop who now works as an unlicensed private detective, doing "favors" for people who show their appreciation by giving him money. Scudder, who has more than his share of demons, lives alone in a tiny hotel room in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. He spends most of his time in saloons and has a drinking problem that is obviously getting worse as the series progresses.

In this
Dan Schwent
A crooked cop goes straight and spills his guts to the Special Prosecutor but before anything can materialize, a call girl is found dead in his apartment. Broadfield, the cop, hires Matthew Scudder to clear his name and find out who is framing him. But can Scudder clear a dirty cop when all the other cops are gunning for him?

Lawrence Block keeps surprising me with the Matthew Scudder series. Every time he tricks me into thinking a certain way, only to jerk the rug out from under me when the pers
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good, very noir, with a poignant, small tragedy for Matt.

Calm and complex and softly compelling. Great dialogue, great atmosphere, well-drawn characters. Perfectly paced. The best of Scudder so far.

Notes and Quotes -

8.0% ...
She turned to look at me. “Do you like this time of year?”
“Yes. Very much.”
“It’s my favorite, I think. October, November, the best time of the year. But also the saddest, wouldn’t you say?”
“Sad? Why?”
“Oh, very sad,” she said. “Because winter is coming.”

20.0% ....
Jason Koivu
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Matt Scudder is a sad, lonely sod. The fact that I like to spend so much time with him worries me...

In The Midst of Death is another solid good-read from Lawrence Block. This time retired-cop-turned-unlicensed-private-detective Scudder is searching for whoever killed a woman in order to set up his client.

Police corruption is the main vice Block takes a look at in this one. When a member of the force, his hero Scudder himself once took bribes and kickbacks, but it was nothing beyond the usual an
Cathy DuPont
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lawrence Block created a character that I have grown so fond of, Matthew Scudder even though this is only the second book in the series that I’ve read.

An ex NYC cop (is there ever one?) he’s an un-licensed PI because being a licensed PI requires paperwork, reports, and reporting income to the IRS. He would rather do ‘favors’ for friends (or perhaps acquaintances) for ‘gifts’ from same.

In The Midst of Death we learn a little more about Matt and his relationship with the NYPD, his character (what

Matt Scudder continues to impress and please me. He has become such a richly realized character, after only three short books, that I have a hard time believing he isn't living out his golden years somewhere (on or off the wagon -- haven't decided yet) with a lovely lady by his side or a scruffy Heinz 57 mutt to keep him company.

The temptation to just plow ahead and read all the books in the series as fast as I can is a strong one. As soon as one case wraps up, I find myself immediately jonesin
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
I'm really liking these alcoholic unlicensed private dick books from Lawrence Block but after two of them I'm still waiting to be amazed.

The plot for this one feels similar to one written by Block's old friend Evan Hunter recently republished by Hard Case Crime as The Gutter and the Grave, the drunk former cop hired by a crooked former cop to prove his innocence, it's probably a popular theme from the genre but for long periods of this novel I was getting the two stories confused in my mind they

This didn’t quite live up to the stellar start of the series with “The Sins of the Father” but it was still an enjoyable read/listen throughout. Maybe this is my fault for jumping straight into the next outing rather than doing my usual and leaving a series for a couple of weeks/months to let the anticipation build. It had the same great style and characterisation with a complex murder(s) where Matt is hired to get to the root of the situation and what is going on with his proper detective w
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
After hemming and hawing about whether to start Block's Matthew Scudder series, I finally read one of the books. Granted, I was unable to read the first in the series, but IN THE MIDST OF DEATH doesn't require that the first one be read to enjoy the story. Block does a wonderful job of painting the portrait of Matthew Scudder, ex-cop turned PI who has a drinking problem, self-worth issues, two sons that he rarely sees, and a world outlook that might best be described as misanthropic. But Scudder ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the better Noir novel
For the third time we meet Matthew Scudder a hard-drinking ex-police officer working as an unlicensed PI, who is involved into a case of police corruption, the murder of a call girl and a corrupt policeman. NYPD Detective Broadfield has turned on his own bu collaborating with an investigation in police corruption. Which ends up with him in jail be the main suspect of the murder of a call girl.

Scudder ends up in a case for the truth about murder and corruption. And while Scudder does not mind th
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
As many have noted in reviews posted here, Block begins to really establish Scudder as a person rather than as an unlicensed detective. We get to see him grow in ways that we've yet to dive into. Between his shaky relationship with his ex-wife and kids, to his struggle with intimacy, to his budding alcohol addiction.

I feel a little crazy giving all these 5 star ratings to Block's books but they're really that good. They're tightly structure; they don't run on for the sake of running on. We're gi
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This time around, Scudder's in the cups while dealing with dead hookers, corrupt cops and (view spoiler). In addition to giving us another case to solve, Block lets us look further into Scudder's life as we navigate the streets of 70s New York. He does a pretty phenomenal job of striking the balance between case and background. Block also brings back a character who I happen to love - gay bar owner and sometime informant, Kenny (just ba ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: detective noir fans
What do I think? I think you should check out an excellent review:

Or if Stephen's effusive praise gets a little windy, and the gifs are too troublesome, check out Dan's succinct thoughts:

Really, what more is there to say?

Oh wait, don't forget Kemper's nice overview:

Reviews brought to you by the trio of taco-talking trouble who drew me into this series.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect measures of police corruption, the challenges of walking the tightrope for call girls to stay alive and the investigative skills of our man Scudder to uncover truths and manage to free one cop and lead the guilty one to turn himself in for murder. His personal life holds its own drama. These books are the right length and good medicine between physical tasks - better than Ibuprofen maybe.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, b
NYPD cop Jerry Broadfield has turned on his own, collaborating in a Special Prosecutor's investigation into police corruption. It's a move that lands him in a jail cell on a murder rap and Scudder has his work cut out trying to free Broadfield.
I’ve got a bit of a series jag on at the minute; I’m currently reading 5 separate character series at the rate of 1book a month. Whether each and every one sustains my interest in the coming months, only time will tell. One that does look like pro
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This third installment in the Matthew Scudder series, while the weakest of the first three novels, was still nonetheless very entertaining. It was on the anticlimactic side, the wrap up whodunit feature of the book was a little shallow in comparison to the first two novels. I enjoyed most seeing Scudder's character come to life a bit more with the shedding of some of his demons. From what I've read, the series doesn't even start to take off for another couple novels, which is impressive being th ...more
Private investigator Matt Scudder is back. This time he is on the case for NYPD cop Jerry Broadfield. While Broadfield was never going to be known as a pillar of society he was (mostly) an honest cop. But he seems to have rattled a few cages, mainly from the crook cops on the force. Now he is being set up.

Because The Sins of the Fathers was so short and I enjoyed it so much I went right into In the Midst of Death. Something I never do and that is normally because I never like to get entrenched i
*3.5 Stars*
This book was just as enjoyable as the previous two in the series. It's refreshing how consistently solid these books have been so far. Probably the biggest reason for this is how vivid both the cast of characters and the dialogue scenes feel in Block's novels. Everything just rings true. His scenes are entertaining with cool dialogue, but the "coolness" never feels forced. There is an ease to Block's writing that I really enjoy to revisit every time I pick up one of the Scudder novel
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Matthew is approached by a middleman - he represents a cop who's decided to turn evidence over on police corruption. Now a high class call girl says the cop has been extorting her for money - and sex.

Good investigative procedural with much drinking, smoking and dead bodies.
I have an admiring laugh every time I look at that cover...a dead dude lays in a grassed-over Manhattan lot while a bloody scythe hovers in the foreground, while radiation-puke green font shouts the admittedly pretty-bad title at you. A word on is an absolute fucking REQUIREMENT for any kind of crime/thriller/mystery whatever novel to have an unashamedly awesome title. Even proto-crime stuff had awesome titles, like Murders in the Rue Morgue or The Hound of the Baskervilles. You coul ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lawrence Block manages to keep things interesting using the same character, the same supporting cast and the same story format. Quite the achievement. IN THE MIDST OF DEATH is my favorite of the series, so far. Goes deep into the police hierarchy and unwritten rules and it gets ugly. Boy does it get ugly as sin. Matthew Scudder becomes more fascinating and more attaching by the book as he keeps himself from everybody, including the reader, but is never self-righteous about it. Just wounded. Look ...more
Debbi Mack
I read this years ago, and I just wanted to say how much I love Matthew Scudder. I'm also a huge Lawrence Block fan.

Check out my video review here:
Mike French
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scudder is my least favorite of Lawrence Block series, but it is better than 95% of detective novels that I read! Very enjoyable and entertaining.
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The early books in the Matt Scudder series increasingly feel like an appetizer to me. They come in small and sharp doses and always leave me pining for more. They are fast paced, smartly plotted but are missing the final gear because Scudder is such a great character and more involving or ambitious stories could be told with him.

Scudder is noteworthy because Block's writing hints at layers waiting to be unraveled in his protagonist. Like all other great recurring crime fiction protagonists Scudd
So...This was an OK book. I’m having a hard time with the main character. He is a great investigator. But as a human being, he is so flawed. I sometimes find it hard to find anything good in him. The thing is, he is so bothered about the bad things that have happened in his life, he has become weak. He can’t get over the bad stuff. Stuff, he didn’t have control over. It was part of the job.

This book was about Matthew trying to figure out who framed Jerry Broadfield. He figures it out and he’s b
Maggie K
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
In a lot of ways, this is a really unassuming little mystery, going along its way, when all of a sudden you get just struck with some empathic feel for the narrator, even though he hasn't said a thing about what he is feeling. It's all somehow there. Such a great hallmark of characterization.

This series, following an ex-cop on his solitary journeys after accidentally shooting a child, can seem a bit dated, and none of the characters are very synpathetic, but it all pulls together to give a wonde
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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

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)
  • 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 Devil Knows You're Dead (Matthew Scudder, #11)
“People don't get to change things. Things change people once in a while, but people don't change things.” 12 likes
“Everybody's weird, fundamentally everybody is a snap. Sometimes it's a sexual thing and sometimes it's a different kind of weirdness, but one way or another everybody's nuts.” 9 likes
More quotes…