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In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder Series #3)

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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.

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In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder Series #3)

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Kansas City Star
One of the most accomplished writers of mystery and suspense fiction in America.
Library Journal
Block's detective, Matthew Scudder, the former New York City police officer, now tries to discover who killed a call girl and pinned the murder on a policeman who is cooperating with an investigation into corruption. The story is very tight and well written and filled with a cross section of New York City denizens. The person who hired Scudder is blatantly crooked, and Scudder himself was involved with both money and women while on the force. However, as with the other entries in this series, the compelling focus is the detective's battle with alcoholism. As presented in A Stab in the Dark, Scudder's drinking increases; he functions well enough to solve the case, but suffers more and more from the effects of the booze. Reader Alan Sklar does an excellent job; recommended for all audio collections. Stephen L. Hupp, Urbana Univ., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380763627
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: Matthew Scudder Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 151,684
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.68 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

October is about as good as the city gets. The last of the summer heat is gone and the real bite of cold weather hasn't arrived yet. There had been rain in September, quite a bit of it, but that was past now. The air was a little less polluted than usual, and its temperature made it seem even cleaner than it was.

I stopped at a phone booth on Third Avenue in the Fifties. On the corner an old woman scattered bread crumbs for the pigeons and cooed to them as she fed them. I believe there's a city ordinance against feeding pigeons. We used to cite it in the department when explaining to rookies that there were laws you enforced and laws you forgot about.

I went into the booth. It had been mistaken at least once for a public lavatory, which is par for the course. At least the phone worked. Most of them do these days. Five or six years ago most of the phones in outdoor booths didn't work. So not everything in our world is getting worse. Some things are actually getting better.

I called Portia Carr's number. Her answering machine always picked up on the second ring, so when the phone rang a third time, I figured I'd dialed a wrong number. I'd begun to take it for granted that she would never be home when I called.

Then she answered the phone. "Yes?"

"Miss Carr?"

"Yes, this is she speaking." The voice was not pitched quite so low as on the tape of the answering machine, and the Mayfair accent was less noticeable.

"My name is Scudder," I said. "I'd like to come over and see you. I'm in the neighborhood and -- "

"Terribly sorry," she cut in. "'Fraid I'm not seeing people anymore. Thank you."

"I wanted to --"

"Do call someone else." And she broke the connection.

I found another dime and was set to drop it in the slot and call her again when I changed my mind and put the dime back in my pocket. I walked two blocks downtown and one block east to Second Avenue and Fifty-fourth Street, where I scouted up a lunch counter with a pay phone that was in view of the entrance of her building. I dropped my dime in that phone and dialed her number.

As soon as she came on the line I said, "My name is Scudder, and I want to talk to you about Jerry Broadfield."

There was a pause. Then she said, "Who is this?"

"I told you. My name is Matthew Scudder."

"You called a few moments ago."

"Right. You hung up on me."

"I thought -- "

"I know what you thought. I want to talk to you."

"I'm terribly sorry, don't you know, but I'm not giving interviews."

"I'm not from the press."

"Then what is your interest, Mr. Scudder?"

"You'll find out when you see me. I think you'd better see me, Miss Carr."

"I think not, actually."

"I'm not sure you have any choice. I'm in your neighborhood. I'll be at your place in five minutes."

"No, please." A pause. "I've just tumbled out of bed, don't you see? You'll have to give me an hour. Can you give me an hour?"

"If I have to."

"One hour, then, and you'll come round. You have the address, I suppose?"

I told her I did. I rang off and sat at the counter with a cup of coffee and a roll. I faced the window so that I could keep an eye on her building, and I got my first look at her just as the coffee was getting cool enough to drink. She must have been dressed when we spoke because it only took her seven minutes and change to hit the street.

It wasn't much of an accomplishment to recognize her. The description pinned her all by itself the fiery mane of dark red hair, the height. And she tied it all together with the regal presence of a lioness.

I stood up and moved toward the door, ready to follow her as soon as I knew where she was going. But she kept walking straight toward the coffee shop, and when she came through the door, I turned away from her and went back to my cup of coffee.

She headed straight for the phone booth.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. Enough telephones are tapped so that everyone who is either criminally or politically active knows to regard all phones as tapped and to act accordingly. Important or sensitive calls are not to be made from one's own phone. And this was the nearest public telephone to her building. That's why I had chosen it myself, and it was why she was using it now.

I moved a little closer to the booth, just to satisfy myself that it wouldn't do me any good. I couldn't see the number she was dialing, and I couldn't hear a thing. Once I'd established this, I paid for my roll and coffee and left.

I crossed the street and walked over to her building.

I was taking a chance. If she finished her call and hopped into a cab I would lose her, and I didn't want to lose her now. Not after all the time it had taken me to find her. I wanted to know who she was calling now, and if she went someplace I wanted to know where and why.

But I didn't think she was going to grab a taxi. She hadn't even been carrying a purse, and if she wanted to go somewhere, she would probably want to come back for her bag first and throw some clothes in a suitcase. And she had set...

In the Midst of Death. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2002

    A Matt Scudder Mystery

    This is one of Block¿s early episodes in the career of Matt Scudder. If you haven¿t read any of these Scudder novels he is a PI in New York and he strongly resembles the earlier PI¿s, like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and others. In this novel he is hired by a cop who is being accused by a prostitute claiming he blackmailed her to avoid her deportation. Broadfield may be innocent of this charge but there is no doubt in Scudder¿s mind that he has been on the take big time. This story is fast-paced and well worth reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

    Great Mystery

    Matt Scudder is the best detective ever

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    Posted September 10, 2011

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