Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder Series #7)

Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder Series #7)

by Lawrence Block

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380709939
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/30/2002
Series: Matthew Scudder Series , #7
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 335,617
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There are three prominent fraternal organizations for actors in New York, and years ago an actor named Maurice Jenkins-Lloyd had summed them up to anyone who'd listen. "The Players are gentlemen," he'd intoned, "pretending to be actors. The Lambs are actors, pretending to be gentlemen. And the Friars -- the Friars are, neither, pretending to be both."

I don't know which category Jenkins-Lloyd belonged in. When I knew him he was mostly drunk, pretending to be sober. He used to drink at Armstrong's, which used to be on Ninth Avenue between Fifty-seventh and Fifty-eighth. His drink was Dewar's and soda, and he could drink it all day and an night without showing it much. He never raised his voice, never turned ugly, never fen off his chair. Toward the end of an evening he might slur his words some, but that was about it. Player, Lamb, or Friar, he drank like a gentleman.

And died of it. I was still drinking myself when he died of a ruptured esophagus. It's not the first cause of death you think of for alcoholics, but it doesn't seem to happen to other people. I don't know exactly what causes it, whether it's the cumulative effect of pouring booze down a gullet for all those years or the strain of vomiting a couple of times every morning.

I hadn't thought of Maurice Jenkins-Lloyd in a long time. I thought of him now because I was going to an AA meeting on the second floor of what used to be the Lambs Club. The elegant white building on West Forty-fourth had some years ago become a luxury the Lambs could no longer afford, and they had sold the property and shared space with another clubsomewhere else in midtown. A church of some sort had bought the property, and it now housed an experimental theater along with facilities for other church activities. On Thursday nights, the Fresh Start group of Alcoholics Anonymous paid a nominal fee for the use of a meeting room.

The meeting ran from eight-thirty to nine-thirty I got there about ten minutes early and introduced myself to the program chairman. I helped myself to coffee and sat where he indicated. There were eight or ten six-foot tables arranged in an open rectangle, and my seat was at the far end from the door, next to the chairman's.

By eight-thirty there were about thirty-five people sitting around the tables and drinking coffee out of Styrofoam cups. The chairman opened the meeting and read the preamble, then called on someone to read a portion of the fifth chapter of the Big Book. There were a few announcements -- a dance that weekend on the Upper West Side, a group anniversary in Murray Hill, a new meeting added to the schedule at Alanon House. A group that met regularly at a Ninth Avenue synagogue was canceling its next two meetings because of the Jewish holidays.

Then the chairman said, "Our speaker tonight is Matt, from Keep It Simple.

I was nervous, of course. I'd been nervous from the minute I walked into the place. I'm always like that before I lead a meeting, but it passes. When he'd introduced me there was a round of polite applause, and when it died down I said, "Thanks. My name is Matt, and I'm an alcoholic." Then the nervousness was gone, and I sat, there and told my story.

I talked for about twenty minutes. I don't remember what I said. Essentially what you do is tell what it used to be like, what happened, and what it's like now, and that's what I did, but it comes out different every time you tell it.

Some people's stories are inspirational enough for cable television. They'll ten you how they were down and out in East St. Louis and now they're president of IBM with rising expectations. I don't have that kind of story to tell. I still live in the same place and do the same thing for a living. The difference is I used to drink and now I don't, and that's about as inspirational as I get.

When I finished there was another round of polite applause, and then they passed a basket and everyone put in a dollar or a quarter or nothing at all toward the rent and the coffee. There was a five-minute break, and then the meeting resumed. The format varies at different meetings; here they went around the room, and everybody had his turn to say something.

There were maybe ten people in the room I recognized and another half-dozen or so who looked familiar. One woman with a strong jawline and a lot of red hair took off from the fact that I'd been a cop.

"You coulda come to my house," she said. 'We had the cops there once a week. My husband and I would drink and fight, and some neighbor'd call the cops, and they'd come. The same cop showed up three times running, and the next thing you knew I was having an affair with him, and before you knew it him and I had a fight, and somebody called the cops. People were always calling the cops on me, even when I was with a cop to start with."

At nine-thirty we said the Lord's Prayer and closed the meeting. A few people came over to shake hands and thank me for leading the meeting. Most of the others hurried out of the building so they could light their cigarettes.

Outside, the night was crisp with early autumn. Summer had been brutal, and the cool nights now were a relief...

Out on the Cutting Edge. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Out on the Cutting Edge 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
TTAISI-Editor on LibraryThing 8 months ago
One of the best of Block's Matt Scudder series, it's also a terrific New York mystery, full of grit, energy, and suspense.
Darrol on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It is my absolutely least favorite mystery cliche: the detective sleeps with the perp. If this were not Scudder, it would be the end of reading this series.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ahhh... another spare, sparse and to the point "detective" novel starring Matt Scudder. A sober Matt this time... which didn't take away from the story at all, though it might have lessened some of the random violence that was in the earlier novels (i.e. he didn't get drunk and wander around looking for street fights).Was the mystery conveniently solved? Sure... was it believably solved? Yep. Was Scudder tested in his resolve? You bet.All in all it was an excellent installment in the series and I look forward to seeing what Matt gets up to in the next book.
Goodwillbooks on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A Matthew Scudder novel by Lawrence Block. It's very well-written in a spare style. Set in the streets of New York, it is very convincing in every element. The characters are fascinating (particularly Mickey Ballou), and the struggles by several of the characters with alcoholism and their reliance on Alcoholics Anonymous is very illuminating. In some ways and some scenes, the plot seems almost secondary, but all elements are woven together very tightly. A very satisfying mystery/crime novel. My first Matthew Scudder, but not my last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one annoyed me. The girl got exactly what she deserved, and so did Scudder. Hey, Scudder, here's an idea: instead of tithing to chuches you don't belong to or handing out cash to sidewalk trash, how about sending it to your kids, you bum?
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Matthew Scudder series is definitely a good read. Lawrence Block is able to capture the hard-boiled detective style alongside Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet. Block's detective Matthew Scudder, a former police officer and alcoholic, is an intruiging character that gets the job done.