Everybody Dies (Matthew Scudder Series #14)

Everybody Dies (Matthew Scudder Series #14)

4.5 10
by Lawrence Block

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Matt Scudder is finally leading a comfortable life. The crime rate's down and the stock market's up. Gentrification's prettying-up the old neighborhood. The New York streets don't look so mean anymore.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Scudder quickly discovers the spruced-up sidewalks are as mean as ever, dark and gritty and stained with blood. He's living in a


Matt Scudder is finally leading a comfortable life. The crime rate's down and the stock market's up. Gentrification's prettying-up the old neighborhood. The New York streets don't look so mean anymore.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Scudder quickly discovers the spruced-up sidewalks are as mean as ever, dark and gritty and stained with blood. He's living in a world where the past is a minefield, the present is a war zone, and the future's an open question. It's a world where nothing is certain and nobody's safe, a random universe where no one's survival can be taken for granted. Not even his own.

A world where everybody dies.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
One of the most harrowing yet most rewarding chapters in the education of a hero.
-- New York Times Book Review
Entertainment Weekly
Lean, solid, always intelligent.
Philadelphia Inquirer
When Lawrence Block is in his Matt Scudder mode, crime fiction can sidle up so close to literature that often there's no degree ofdifference Fists and bullets fly, blood is shed in buckets and yet Scudder's complex internal life has never been more deeplyplumbed. Which is to say he's never been more interesting.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
A taut noir story one of Lawrence Block's best.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The body count is indeed high in this latest Matt Scudder tale, which is also the best since A Walk Among the Tombstones (1993) -- resonant, thoughtful, richly textured and capped by a slam-bang windup. At the center of the case is Matt's old buddy, Mick Ballou, the murderous and hard-drinking Irish mobster with a deeply philosophical streak who is one of Block's most enduring creations. Two of Mick's henchmen have been killed in what should have been a routine liquor hijacking. After Scudder helps Mick bury the bodies at the mobster's upstate farm, he finds he has been targeted himself. Two hoods try to rough him up on the street, then an old friend, Matt's sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous, is gunned down in a restaurant after being mistaken for Matt. It soon becomes clear that someone from Ballou's past is aiming to destroy him, and Matt, caught in the crossfire, has to try to determine who's behind the mayhem. He does so in his usual ruminative way, working it out with wife Elaine, streetwise sidekick TJ and old cop comrades who are now, because of his friendship with Ballou, against him. In the end, Matt has to stand alone with Ballou to put a stop to the vendetta in a blaze of gunfire. Block's seamless weave of thought and action, and his matchless gift for dialogue that is true, funny and revealing, have seldom been on more effective display. The pages leading up to the climax have an almost Shakespearean feel for human resignation in the face of mortality. (Publisher's Weekly best book of 1998)
Library Journal
The prolific Block (e.g., Tanner on Ice, LJ 7/98) is well known among mystery fans for two series: one featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr and the other Matthew Scudder. This is the 14th Scudder tale, and by now the recovering alcoholic ex-cop has become respectable, with a wife and a PI license. When his best friend, an Irish gangster, finds himself the target of an unknown assassin, Scudder begins asking questions and soon joins the hit list as bodies begin to turn up. As usual, Block shows that actions have consequences -- past events come back with a vengeance, and Scudder's interior conflicts drive the series. The dialog is unusually stiff, but Block has won nearly every mystery award, his fans are legion, and any new Scudder story is sure to be in demand everywhere.
-- Roland C. Person, Southern Illinois University Library, Carbondale
Anthony Smith
...[A]fter a hundred pages, this novel picks up heat and speed.....Scudder fans will be satisfied once again. It's violent, but not so much as before. Most of all, the story explores what people do for friendship. And there are plenty of gunfights, too....Block is a great one who has written great books, so for that, I will mark Everybody Dies as an average effort while waiting for his next Scudder or Keller, see what comes to his mind next.
Mystery Magazine Online
Wall Street Journal
One of the very best writers now working the beat.
A virtuoso.
Kirkus Reviews
Mick Ballou can't tell the cops about the men who broke into his storage room in Jersey, murdered two of his errand boys, and carted off the liquor that was stored there, since Mick had stolen the booze himself. Instead, he calls Matthew Scudder. Even though Scudder is more respectable than ever, he's married his longtime companion Elaine Mardell and gotten a private investigator's license at lastþhe helps Mick and his driver Andy Buckley bury the bodies, and noses around just enough to satisfy himself that he can't tell whether the thieves were opportunists or personal enemies. But Scudder, his modest task completed, doesn't take himself off the case fast enough for the killers, who are only getting started. They arrange to have him beaten, they send a shooter after him, and then they go after Mick in earnest. The body count, as the title suggests, is fearsome. But even more harrowing is the obsession with death that grips everybody Scudder talks to, from gay albino African-American Danny Boy Bell, who's constantly updating his list of all the people he knows who've died, to Mick, still fabled 30 years later as having celebrated his victory over a rival mobster by toting around a hideous trophy in a bowling bag. Not as breathtakingly plotted as Scudder's last, Even the Wicked (1997), but still an unforgettable dispatch from a world in which there are no real survivors, just guys who haven't died yet.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Matthew Scudder Series , #14
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Andy Buckley said, "Jesus Christ," and braked the Cadillac to a stop. I looked up and there was the deer, perhaps a dozen yards away from us in the middle of our lane of traffic. He was unquestionably a deer caught in the headlights, but he didn't have that stunned look the expression is intended to convey. He was lordly, and very much in command.

C'mon," Andy said. "Move your ass, Mister Deer."

"Move up on him," Mick said. "But slowly."

"You don't want a freezer full of venison, huh?" Andy eased up on the brake and allowed the car to creep forward. The deer let us get surprisingly close before, with one great bound, he was off the road and out of sight in the darkened fields at the roadside.

We'd come north on the Palisades Parkway, northwest on Route 17, northeast on 209. We were on an unnumbered road when we stopped for the deer, and a few miles farther we turned left onto the winding gravel road that led to Mick Ballou's farm. It was past midnight when we left, and close to two by the time we got there. There was no traffic, so we could have gone faster, but Andy kept us a few miles an hour under the speed limit, braked for yellow lights, and yielded at intersections. Mick and I sat in back, Andy drove, and the miles passed in silence.

"You've been here before," Mick said, as the old two-story farmhouse came into view.


"Once after that business in Maspeth," he remembered. "You drove that night, Andy."

"I remember, Mick."

"Andwe'd Tom Heaney with us as well. I feared we might lose Tom. He was hurt bad, but scarcely made a sound. Well, he's from the North. They're a closemouthed lot."

He meant the North of Ireland.

"But you were here a second time? When was that?"

"A couple of years ago. We made a night of it, and you drove me up to see the animals, and have a look at the place in daylight. And you sent me home with a dozen eggs."

"Now I remember. And I'll bet you never had a better egg."

"They were good eggs."

"Big yolks the color of a Spanish orange. It's a great economy, keeping chickens and getting your own eggs. My best calculation is that those eggs cost me twenty dollars."

"Twenty dollars a dozen?"

"More like twenty dollars an egg. Though when herself cooks me a dish of them, I'd swear it was worth that and more."

Herself was Mrs. O'Gara, and she and her husband were the farm's official owners. In the same fashion, there was somebody else's name on the Cadillac's title and registration, and on the deed and license for Grogan's Open House, the saloon he owned on the corner of Fiftieth and Tenth. He had some real estate holdings around town, and some business interests, but you wouldn't find his name on any official documents. He owned, he'd told me, the clothes on his back, and if put to it he couldn't even prove those were legally his. What you don't own, he'd said, they can't easily take away from you.

Andy parked alongside the farmhouse. He got out of the car and lit a cigarette, lagging behind to smoke it while Mick and I climbed a few steps to the back porch. There was a light on in the kitchen, and Mr. O'Gara was waiting for us at the round oak table. Mick had phoned earlier to warn O'Gara that we were coming. "You said not to wait up," he said now, "but I wanted to make sure you had everything you'd need. I made a fresh pot of coffee."

"Good man."

"All's well here. Last week's rain did us no harm. The apples should be good this year, and the pears even better."

"The summer's heat was no harm, then."

"None as wasn't mended," O'Gara said. "Thanks be to God. She's sleeping, and I'll turn in now myself, if that's all right. But you've only to shout for me if you need anything."

"We're fine," Mick assured him. "We'll be out back, and we'll try not to disturb you."

"Sure, we're sound sleepers," O'Gara said. "Ye'd wake the dead before ye'd wake us."

O'Gara took his cup of coffee upstairs with him. Mick filled a thermos with coffee, capped it, then found a bottle of Jameson in the cupboard and topped up the silver flask he'd been nipping from all night. He returned it to his hip pocket, got two six-packs of O'Keefe's Extra Old Stock ale from the refrigerator, gave them to Andy, and grabbed up the thermos jar and a coffee mug. We got back into the Cadillac and headed farther up the drive, past the fenced chicken yard, past the hogpen, past the barns, and into the old orchard. Andy parked the car, and Mick told us to wait while he walked back to what looked like an old-fashioned outhouse straight out of Li'l Abner, but was evidently a toolshed. He came back carrying a shovel.

He picked a spot and took the first turn, sinking the shovel into the earth, adding his weight to bury the blade to the hilt. Last week's rain had done no harm. He bent, lifted, tossed a shovelful of earth aside.

I uncapped the thermos and poured myself some coffee. Andy lit a cigarette and cracked a can of ale. Mick went on digging. We took turns, Mick and Andy and 1, opening a deep oblong hole in the earth alongside the pear and apple orchard. There were a few cherry trees as well, Mick said, but they were sour cherries, good only for pies, and it was easier to let the birds have them than to go to the trouble of picking them, taking into account that the birds would get most of them whatever you did.

Everybody Dies. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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One of the surest, most distinctive voices in American fiction.
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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.

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find Lawrence Block¿s novels featuring Matt Scudder refreshing. They are easy to read and great escapism. In the earlier books Scudder was an unlicensed private detective who bent a lot of rules and was a drunk. Now he is sober and licensed but the rules are bent like never before. Many of the characters we have already met and Block is most skilful at bringing them back with just as important a role as before. This is the type of book you can read in a couple of days, you won¿t want to sleep and despite the action these books are relaxing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite simply, one hundred years from now, they're going to rank Lawrence Block with Dashielle Hammett and Raymond Chandler as one of the greatest hard-boiled mystery writers of all time. I can't think of one of his books that I didn't enjoy. 'Everybody Dies' is a hardboiled novel the way it should be...it's dark, it's clever, it's engaging, and the mystery itself is spellbinding. One of the things that Block can do is create real life people; these aren't stereotypes and when they die, we mourn them. Matt Scudder is no less alive than was Sherlock Holmes or Phillip Marlow. Any one of Block's books is a great read.
jk70 More than 1 year ago
I just started reading the Matthew Scudder books by Lawrence Block about 2 or 3 months ago, I have read 5 of his books and am on the 6th book now..............my opinion is hands down Mr. Block is one of the greatest writers I encountered over the years. I am 73 years young and highly recommend his works to others. Does Mr. Block recieve e-mails, and if so how would I locate his e-mail address. regards,jk70
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first Lawrence Block book i read. As soon as i finished i went out to buy all the other books in the Matthew Scudder series. This one ranks as my favorite, along with Even the Wicked. This one goes more into the character of Mick Ballou and his past. It's definitely a must read! Block captures the hard-boiled detective genre that so few writers today can do.