Reviews for Hope to Die : A Matthew Scudder Novel


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 2001
Bryne and Susan Hollander are living the good life. He's a lawyer, and she's a writer; their $3 million Manhattan brownstone is within walking distance of Lincoln Center, where on this particular night, they attend a charity concert. When the concert ends, they walk home. That's when the good life ends: after interrupting a burglary in progress, Bryne and Susan are murdered. Within days, the police find the burglars, both dead, an apparent murder-suicide. Case officially closed. Unofficially, Matt Scudder takes an interest when the Hollanders' daughter hires him to explore the possibility of a third person's involvement. The clues are subtle--mostly circumstantial--but Scudder follows instincts honed over nearly 40 years of police and investigative work. Block, who writes best-sellers and racks up awards in equal measure, adheres to most of crime fiction's formulas, but he still manages to bring a rare depth and power to the genre. Scudder first appeared as a drunken ex-cop wallowing in self-pity, but he has evolved into a sober, often somber, self-aware observer of modern life. Readers of the series know that the hero's journey has been arduous and often painful. The crimes in the Scudder novels are vehicles to take us to the darkest corners of human experience. With Matt as our guide, we emerge from these visits to the dark side a little more fearful but always richer for the experience. ((Reviewed September 1, 2001))Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2001 September #1
Lg. Prt.: 0-06-621400-9cassette 0-694-52604-5Arriving home at their Upper West Side brownstone from the opening concert in the Mostly Mozart series, attorney Byrne Hollander and his writer wife Susan encounter a pair of burglars who leave them dead. It's the most commonplace sort of murder imaginable, and everybody's more than ready to call it closed when forensic evidence implicates a pair of skells found dead in a rundown Brooklyn apartment-everybody, that is, but once-again-unlicensed private eye Matthew Scudder. Maybe Scudder's brooding too much because his ex-wife just died, but there's something about the case that whispers setup to him. His assistant TJ-whose Columbia classmate Lia Parkman, Susan's niece, wonders whether the Hollanders' daughter and wealthy heiress Kristin mightn't have had them killed-eggs him on, and soon he's turned up not only some telltale loose ends in the tightly wound skein of evidence against the late Carl Ivanko and Jason Bierman, but a paying client: Kristin Hollander, who's reached pretty much the same conclusion as her cousin, though not of course down to identifying the same perp. Continuing to ask questions even as the killer realizes he's under suspicion, Scudder unearths a plot as diabolical as it is far-fetched, and a lot less resonant than the nefarious schemes of Even the Wicked (1997) and Everybody Dies (1998).Second-drawer Scudder is still Scudder, but despite the high body count, this battle of wits lacks the somber view of mortality that makes his best work so powerful-right down to the final chapter, which strongly hints at a rematch.Author tour Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Library Journal Reviews 2001 July #1
First brought to our attention 25 years ago, Matthew Scudder is back at work, investigating the particularly unpleasant murder of a wealthy West Side couple. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Reviews 2001 September #1
This is the 15th Matthew Scudder novel in 25 years, and readers of Block's noir series know what to expect. It's all here: a perfect evocation of the sights, sounds, and smells of New York City; trips to AA meetings in church basements; Mick Ballou's bar; and the recurring characters such as Ballou, the streetwise TJ, and Elaine, the civilizing influence. In this latest outing, Matt and Elaine attend a "Mostly Mozart" benefit concert at Lincoln Center. At the same concert are a couple who are later murdered in their Upper West Side apartment. Then, the "murderers" are themselves killed in Brooklyn. Without anyone really asking him to, and for want of something better to do, Scudder starts to pick at this case until the whole story unravels before him to a startling conclusion. Every so often, the real murderer narrates a chapter, which adds a cat-and-mouse element. But those looking for fast action will not find it here the pace is leisurely, and characters and set pieces are almost as important as plot. Recommended, especially for public libraries, where readers will ask for it. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/01.] Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 August #4
Unlicensed PI Matthew Scudder returns after a three-year absence to investigate the murder of a wealthy couple savagely slain in their Manhattan townhouse. Matt's now 62, and his age shows in this relatively sedate outing. There's less violence than in many cases past, and the urban melancholy that pervaded his earlier tales has dissipated, replaced by a mature reckoning with the unending cycle of life and death. The mystery elements are strong. To the cops, the case is open-and-shut: the perps have been found dead, murder/suicide, in Brooklyn, with loot from the townhouse in their possession. Matt enters the scene when his assistant, TJ, introduces him to the cousin of the dead couple's daughter; the cousin suspects the daughter of having engineered the killings for the inheritance. At loose ends, Matt digs in, quickly rejecting the daughter as a suspect but uncovering evidence pointing to a mastermind behind the murders. Block sounds numerous obligatory notes from Scudder tales past the AA meetings, the tithing of Matt's income, cameo appearances by Matt's love interest, Elaine, and his friend, Irish mobster Mick Ballou and he adds texture with some familial drama involving Matt's sons and ex-wife. His prose is as smooth as aged whiskey, as always, and the story flows across its pages. It lacks the visceral edge and heightened emotion of many previous Scudders, however, and the ending seems patly aimed at a sequel. This is a solid mystery, a fine Block, but less than exceptional. (Nov.) Forecast: All Blocks sell and Scudder's return will do particularly well, especially with the attendant major ad/promo, including a 17-city author tour. Simultaneous Harper Audio and Harper large print edition. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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