All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew Scudder Series #16)

All the Flowers Are Dying (Matthew Scudder Series #16)

4.0 14
by Lawrence Block

View All Available Formats & Editions

In his sixteenth Matthew Scudder novel, All the Flowers Are Dying, New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block takes the award-winning series to a new level of suspense and a new depth of characterization. Building on the critical and commercial success of Hope to Die, Block puts Scudder -- and the reader -- at the


In his sixteenth Matthew Scudder novel, All the Flowers Are Dying, New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block takes the award-winning series to a new level of suspense and a new depth of characterization. Building on the critical and commercial success of Hope to Die, Block puts Scudder -- and the reader -- at the very edge of the abyss.

Scudder, a complex character who has grown and aged in real time, confronts the implacable challenge of mortality. But he must also tackle a determined, relentless, and icily inhuman adversary, perhaps the most unforgettable villain Block has ever created.

A man in a Virginia prison awaits execution for three hideous murders he swears, in the face of irrefutable evidence, he did not commit. A psychologist who claims to believe the convict spends hours with the man in his death row cell, and ultimately watches in the gallery as the lethal injection is administered. His work completed, the psychologist heads back to New York City to attend to unfinished business.

Meanwhile, Scudder has just agreed to investigate the ostensibly suspicious online lover of an acquaintance. It seems simple enough. At first. But when people start dying and the victims are increasingly closer to home, it becomes clear that a vicious killer is at work. And the final targets may be Matt and Elaine Scudder.

The suspense is breathtaking, the outcome never certain. A series that has garnered no end of awards -- the Edgar, the Shamus, the Philip Marlowe, the MalteseFalcon -- has ascended to a dizzying new height. With this novel, Lawrence Block, who recently received the Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement from the Crime Writers Association of the United Kingdom, is at the very top of his form.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
For more than 30 years now, Lawrence Block has not only made his mark on bestseller lists but also earned numerous awards at home and abroad. The Mystery Writers of America named him a Grand Master, and he recently became only the third American writer in history to be honored with the Diamond Dagger award from the British Crime Writers. All the Flowers Are Dying finds Block at the top of his game -- and that's saying a lot!

Like his creator, Block's compelling P.I. Matthew Scudder is still going strong. Scudder may say he's retired, but that doesn't stop a fellow A.A. member from asking him for a favor. The woman is dating a man she met online -- a man she thinks she should be able to trust but somehow can't, a man whose insistence on secrecy is exciting but also a little bit scary. Retired or not, ex-cop and longtime investigator Scudder understands completely the importance of instinct; so he agrees to take on the job.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, miles from Scudder's home turf of New York City, a man visits a condemned prisoner on death row, gaining his trust by claiming to believe in his innocence, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence that has sealed the prisoner's fate. And once the execution is over, that man heads to the Big Apple to take care of unfinished business.… Suddenly the body count starts mounting. There's a cold-blooded killer on the loose who has too many connections to Scudder; and this killer seems determined not just to cut Scudder off from everything important in life but to retire him permanently. Sue Stone
Marilyn Stasio
Although Scudder's hunt for the killer turns into a companionable tour of colorful neighborhoods, his thoughts on the city run deep and reflect real feelings about its humanity.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Matt Scudder, bestseller Block's extraordinary private detective, has been around for almost 30 years, and if his aging has been neither gentle nor graceful, it's certainly been eventful. In his stellar 16th outing (after 2001's Hope to Die), the 60-something Scudder proves to be as tough and resilient as ever when faced with the slickest, sickest killer to ever test his mettle. Fans won't be surprised that the killer is linked to the unresolved murders of Hope to Die or that Elaine and Scudder may become the fiend's target. The narrative smoothly shifts between Scudder's point-of-view and the thoughts and actions of the killer, whose ingenuity, daring and pure viciousness sear the pages. Aware of the danger but without a clue to the person behind the threat, Scudder and Elaine are forced into a protective siege while Scudder uses all his skills to probe the mystery. Series fans will welcome the familiar characters and places that have become such an important part of Scudder's universe: TJ, Mick Ballou, Grogan's Bar, the AA meeting spots. Add them together with some brilliant twists and one gets a thrilling, satisfying concoction brewed by a master storyteller in top form. Agent, Daniel Baror at Baror International. (Mar. 1) FYI: MWA Grandmaster Block has won numerous Edgar and Shamus awards and recently began his first full-time job in 40 years as an executive story consultant on the ESPN series Tilt!, which debuted in January. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
No word on the plot of Block's next blockbuster, but the setting is the Big Apple. With a ten-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
For Matthew Scudder's 16th case, and his first in three years, Block borrows the time-honored pattern of the sleuth whose hearth and home are menaced by a killer from his past. Like his friends, Scudder is watching the shadows thicken while he inches toward retirement. But first he takes an unofficial case for an acquaintance, checking out the bona fides of a suitor who's suspiciously secretive. Meantime, a man identifying himself as Yale psychiatrist Dr. Arne Bodinson drops into a Virginia prison to interview Preston Applewhite, who insists against all the evidence that he never saw the three boys he's been convicted of raping and killing. The portentous atmosphere hanging over the scenes between Bodinson and Applewhite is so thick that most readers will intuit the true relationship between the two men, but that's just the point: Block is less interested in springing surprises than in evoking the kind of dread of melodramatic threats that's only an inch from the abiding terror of death in all its shapes. Soon enough the shadowy killer strikes close to the hero, and from that point on it's war without quarter between Scudder, his wife Elaine, his assistant TJ, and the solicitous but not terribly helpful NYPD, and the killer, resurrected from Hope to Die (2001) for a return match. Another powerful meditation on mortality in thriller's clothing. As Scudder puts it, "There's always another funeral to go to. They're like buses."
Orlando Sentinel
“[Block] ratches up the suspense with breathtaking results as only a skilled, inventive and talented writer can do.”
Los Angeles Times
“Block, who couldn’t write a dull scene even if he tried to, is in fine form here.”
Buffalo News
“Block, as always, takes his readers on a wildly entertaining ride.”
Toronto Sun
“A page-turning work of art.”
Lansing State Journal
“An unforgettable tale of violence, death and deceit.”
“A welcome addition to the Scudder mythos.”
Daily Telegraph (London) ** selected ALL THE FLOWER ARE DYING as one of the best American thrillers
“The wit and thoughtfulness of which makes one feel better about how much one enjoyed the (very) grisly bits.”
“Shows what a real crime novel can be in the hands of a master craftsman.”
Daily Telegraph (London)
"The wit and thoughtfulness of which makes one feel better about how much one enjoyed the (very) grisly bits."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Matthew Scudder Series , #16
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
428 KB

Read an Excerpt

All the Flowers Are Dying LP

Chapter One

When I got there, Joe Durkin was already holding down a corner table and working on a drink -- vodka on the rocks, from the looks of it. I took in the room and listened to the hum of conversation at the bar, and I guess some of what I was feeling must have found its way to my face, because the first thing Joe asked me was if I was all right. I said I was fine, and why?

"Because you look like you saw a ghost," he said.

"Be funny if I didn't," I said. "The room is full of them."

"A little new for ghosts, isn't it? How long have they been open, two years?"

"Closer to three."

"Time flies," he said, "whether you're having fun or not. Jake's Place, whoever Jake is. You got a history with him?"

"I don't know who he is. I had a history with the place before it was his."

"Jimmy Armstrong's."

"That's right."

"He died, didn't he? Was that before or after 9/11?"

That's our watershed; everything in our lives is before or after that date. "After," I said, "by five or six months. He left the place to a nephew, who tried running it for a few months and then decided it wasn't the life he wanted for himself. So I guess he sold it to Jake, whoever Jake is."

"Whoever Jake is," he said, "he puts a good meal on the table. You know what they've got here? You can get an Irish breakfast all day long."

"What's that, a cigarette and a six-pack?"

"Very funny. You must know what an Irish breakfast is, a sophisticated guy like yourself."

I nodded. "It's the cardiac special, right? Bacon and eggs and sausage."

"And grilled tomato."

"Ah, health food."

"And black pudding," he said, "which is hard to find. You know what you want? Because I'll have the Irish breakfast."

I told the waitress I'd have the same, and a cup of coffee. Joe said one vodka was enough, but she could bring him a beer. Something Irish, to go with the breakfast, but not Guinness. She suggested a Harp, and he said that would be fine.

I've known Joe for twenty years, though I don't know that ours is an intimate friendship. He's spent those years as a detective at Midtown North, working out of the old stationhouse on West Fifty-fourth Street, and we'd developed a working relationship over time. I went to him for favors, and returned them, sometimes in cash, sometimes in kind. Now and then he steered a client my way. There were times when our relations had been strained; my close friendship with a career criminal never sat well with him, while his attitude after one vodka too many didn't make me relish his company. But we'd been around long enough to know how to make it work, overlooking what we didn't like to look at and staying close but not too close.

Around the time our food arrived, he told me he'd put in his papers. I said he'd been threatening to do so for years, and he said he'd had everything filled out and ready to go a few years ago, and then the towers came down. "That was no time to retire," he said. "Although guys did, and how could you blame 'em? They lost their heart for the job. Me, I'd already lost my heart for it. Shoveling shit against the tide, all we ever do. Right then, though, I managed to convince myself I was needed."

"I can imagine."

"So I stayed three years longer than I intended, and if I did anything useful in those three years I can't remember what it was. Anyway, I'm done. Today's what, Wednesday? A week from Friday's my last day. So all I have to do now is figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my life."

Which was why he'd asked me to meet him for dinner, in a room full of ghosts.

It had been over thirty years since I put in my papers and retired from the NYPD, and shortly thereafter I'd retired as well from my role as husband and father, and moved from a comfortable suburban house in Syosset to a monastic little room at the Hotel Northwestern. I didn't spend much time in that room; Jimmy Armstrong's saloon, around the corner on Ninth between Fifty-seventh and Fifty-eighth, served as a combination of living room and office for me. I met clients there, I ate meals there, and what social life I had was centered there. I drank there, too, day in and day out, because that's what I did back then.

I kept it up for as long as I could. Then I put the plug in the jug, as the old-timers say, and began spending my idle hours not at Jimmy's joint but two blocks north of there, in the basement of St. Paul the Apostle. And in other church basements and storefronts, where I looked for something to put in the empty places alcohol used to fill.

Somewhere along the way, Jimmy lost his lease and moved half a block south and a long block west, to the corner of Fifty-seventh and Tenth. I'd kept my distance from the old place after I sobered up, and I avoided the new one for a while as well. It never did become a hangout, but Elaine and I would drop in for a meal from time to time. Jimmy always served good food, and the kitchen stayed open late, which made it a good choice after an evening at the theater or Lincoln Center.

I'd been to the service, at a funeral parlor on West Forty-fourth, where someone played a favorite song of his. It was "Last Call," by Dave Van Ronk, and I'd first heard it when Billie Keegan played it for me after a long night of whiskey ...

All the Flowers Are Dying LP. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >