A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder Series #10)

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The wife of Kheran Khoury, heroin wholesaler, is killed after he haggles over the price of her ransom. With the help of two computer geniuses, a streetwise punk, drug lords and his friend, ex-cop Scudder, they track the killers through the back streets of Brooklyn.

A new Matt Scudder novel from the author of the Edgar Award-winning A Dance at the Slaughterhouse. Despite the payment of a hefty ransom, the kidnapped wife of a Brooklyn heroin wholesaler is viciously ...

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A Walk Among the Tombstones (Matthew Scudder Series #10)

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The wife of Kheran Khoury, heroin wholesaler, is killed after he haggles over the price of her ransom. With the help of two computer geniuses, a streetwise punk, drug lords and his friend, ex-cop Scudder, they track the killers through the back streets of Brooklyn.

A new Matt Scudder novel from the author of the Edgar Award-winning A Dance at the Slaughterhouse. Despite the payment of a hefty ransom, the kidnapped wife of a Brooklyn heroin wholesaler is viciously murdered. Scudder goes after the killers, because in his mind even drug dealers deserve justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite their dark titles (the words Slaughterhouse and Boneyard figured in the previous two), Block's splendid, award-winning Matt Scudder novels are by no means unrelievedly bleak. His latest-as well as offering the customary skillful plotting, adroit pacing and sure sense of New York character-features a wry humor all its own, along with a particularly ingratiating and convincing pair of computer hackers. The premise is grim, certainly: a pair of men who prey murderously on women progress to kidnapping the womenfolk of drug dealers and demanding huge ransoms. Former alcoholic PI Scudder-now going to more AA meetings than ever-reluctantly agrees to help one dealer, a Lebanese, after his wife is killed by the kidnappers. Slowly and methodically he discerns a pattern in the mayhem. With the help of his erstwhile police colleagues, his black Times Square sidekick TJ and his call-girl sweetheart, Elaine, Scudder tightens the net on the culprits. When they seize the daughter of a Russian dealer, he is ready for the showdown. Block isn't big on action, though when it comes it is swift, vivid and horribly convincing; his Scudder books are built on character, atmosphere, crackling dialogue and a great deal of brooding-the taste for them is addictive. An equal of Elmore Monard and Robert Parker, Block deserves similar acclaim. Author tour. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Earlier this year, the mystery community paid tribute to Block's extraordinary Matt Scudder series by awarding 1991's A Dance at the Slaughterhouse—not quite the series' finest—an Edgar for Best Mystery. Scudder's new outing, his tenth, lives up to the honor as the brooding, alcoholic p.i. takes on a pair of sadistic thrill-killers. Block opens with some stylistic flash, intercutting third- person narration of the abduction-murder of a Brooklyn drug- dealer's wife with Scudder's account of his own mundane doings the day of the crime. The p.i.'s voice takes over entirely, explaining how the dealer's brother, a fellow AA member, asked him to look into the killing—a particularly vicious crime, with the victim, despite a ransom payment, returned in butchered pieces. Slowly—the action takes a while to boil—Scudder sniffs up leads with much help from his pals—not gangster Mick Ballou, who dominated the p.i.'s last three cases but who's now visiting Ireland, but other series veterans, including lover/call-girl Elaine and T.J., a spunky young hustler. And a pair of newcomers, the Kongs, teenage outlaw hackers whose midnight ramble through the phone company's computers provides a welcome light note as well as valuable clues. The case breaks when another drug-dealer's daughter is snatched, leading to a skin-prickling showdown with the killers at a Brooklyn cemetery, and to a grim and vicious blood-revenge. The story concludes, though, with Scudder fumbling toward a new alliance with Elaine, and with an alcoholic's suicide—affecting examples of the frailty, courage, and moral uncertainty that are Block's real subjects. The Edgar Award merely confirmed whatBlock's fans already know—that Matt Scudder is the most appealing and richly human p.i. working today. And this exciting, moving, immensely satisfying case proves it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781937698904
  • Publisher: Lawrence Block, an imprint of Telemachus Press, LL
  • Publication date: 3/23/2012
  • Series: Matthew Scudder Series , #10
  • Pages: 398
  • Sales rank: 883,934
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.89 (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

On the last Thursday in March, somewhere between ten-thirty and eleven in the morning, Francine Khoury told her husband she was going out for a while, she had marketing to do.

"Take my car," he suggested. "I'm not going anywhere."

"It's too big," she said. "Time I took it, I felt like I was steering a boat."

"Whatever you say," he said.

The cars, his Buick Park Avenue and her Toyota Camry, shared the garage behind their house, a mock-Tudor structure of halftimbered stucco on Colonial Road between Seventy-eighth and Seventy-ninth Streets, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. She started up the Camry, backed out of the garage, triggered the remote unit to close the garage door, then backed all the way out to the street. At the first red light she popped a classical cassette into the tape deck. Beethoven, one of the late quartets, She listened to jazz at home, it was Kenan's favorite music, but classical chamber music was what she played when she drove.

She was an attractive woman, five-six, 115 pounds, built large on top, narrow at the waist, trim in the hips. Dark hair, lustrous and curly, combed back off her face. Dark eyes, and aquiline nose, a generous, full-lipped mouth.

The mouth is always closed in photographs. She had, I understand, prominent upper incisors and a substantial overbite, and anxiety over this feature kept her from smiling much. In her wedding pictures she is beaming and radiant, but her teeth remain invisible.

Her complexion was olive, and her skin tanned deeply and readily. She already had a start on the summer's tan; she and Kenan had spent the last week of February on the beach at Negril, in Jamaica. She'd have beendarker, but Kenan made her use sunscreen and limited her hours of exposure. "It's not good for you," he told her. "Too dark's not attractive. Lying in the sun's what turns a plum into a prune." What was so good about plums, she wanted to know. They're ripe and juicy, he told her.

When she had driven half a block from her driveway, about the time she reached the corner of Seventy-eighth and Colonial, the driver of a blue panel truck started his engine. He gave her another half-block lead, then pulled out from the curb and followed after her.

She turned right at Bay Ridge Avenue, then left again at Fourth Avenue, heading north. She slowed when she reached the D'Agostino's at the corner of Sixty-third Street, and eased the Camry into a parking space half a block past it.

The blue panel truck passed the Camry, circled the block, and parked at a fire hydrant right in front of the supermarket.

When Francine Khoury left her house, I was still having breakfast. I'd been up late the previous night. Elaine and I had had dinner at one of the Indian joints on East Sixth Street, then caught a revival of Mother Courage at the Public Theater on Lafayette. Our seats weren't great and it was hard to hear some of the actors. We would have left at intermission, but one of the actors was the boyfriend of one of Elaine's neighbors, and we wanted to go backstage after the final curtain and assure him that he was wonderful. We wound up joining him for a drink at a bar around the corner that was absolutely packed for no reason I could fathom.

"That was great," I told her when we got out of there. "For three hours I couldn't hear him onstage, and for the past hour I couldn't hear him across the table. I wonder if he's got a voice."

"The play didn't last three hours," she said. "More like two and a half."

"It seemed like three hours."

"It seemed like five," she said. "Let's go home."

We went to her place. She made coffee for me and a cup of tea for herself and we watched CNN for half an hour and talked through the commercials. Then we went to bed, and after an hour or so I got up and dressed in the dark. I was on my way out of the bedroom when she asked me where I was going.

"Sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"That's all right. Can't you sleep?"

"Evidently not. I feel wired. I don't know why."

"Read in the living room. Or put the TV on, it won't bother me."

"No," I said. "I'm too restless. The walk across town might do me good."

Elaine's apartment is on Fifty-first between First and Second. My hotel, the Northwestern, is on Fifty-seventh between Eighth and Ninth. It was cold enough out that at first I thought I might take a cab, but by the time I'd walked a block I wasn't feeling it.

Waiting for a light to change, I happened to catch a glimpse of the moon between a couple of tall buildings. It was just about full, and that didn't come as a surprise. The night had a full-moon feel to it, stirring tides in the blood. I felt like doing something and couldn't think what.

If Mick Ballou had been in town I might have gone over to his saloon looking for him. But he was out of the country, and a saloon of any sort was no place for me, as restless as I was feeling. I went home and picked up a book, and somewhere around four I turned the light off and went to sleep.

By ten o'clock I was around the corner at the Flame. I had a light breakfast and read a newspaper, giving most of my attention to the local crime stories and the sports pages. Globally we were between crises, so I wasn't paying much attention to the bigger picture. The shit really has to hit the fan before I take an interest in national and international issues. Otherwise they seem too remote and my mind refuses to come to grips with them...

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Table of Contents

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2003


    My first Lawrence Block book, and it proved to be a good one. Graphic at times; but nonetheless, the story keeps the reader interested, and the story moves along quickly. Details are not spared, and it certainly warrants a closer look at the Matthew Scudder series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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