A time to scatter stones A Matthew Scudder novella

Lawrence Block

Book - 2019

Well past retirement age and feeling his years--but still staying sober one day at a time--Matthew Scudder learns that alcoholics aren't the only ones who count the days since their last slip. Matt's longtime partner, Elaine, tells him of a group of former sex workers who do something similar, helping each other stay out of the life. But when one young woman describes an abusive client who's refusing to let her quit, Elaine encourages her to get help of a different sort. The sort ...only Scudder can deliver.

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Matthew Scudder novel
Detective and mystery fiction
Burton, MI : Subterranean Press 2019.
First edition
Physical Description
153 pages ; 23 cm
Main Author
Lawrence Block (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Block's unlicensed New York City investigator Matt Scudder debuted 40 years ago but has been absent for the last decade. He's settled into semiretirement with his lover, Elaine, a former escort. Elaine and a couple of her working-girl associates start a program similar to AA to share their experiences as former or active sex workers. It's more of a support group than a way to quit the life. One young lady let her regular clients know she was quitting; all wished her well except one, who concluded she was making the change to be with him exclusively, and seamlessly transitioned from client to stalker. Given the anonymous nature of their business relationship, she doesn't know who he is or any details about him. Elaine, thinking Matt can help, introduces them to one another. He dusts off his investigator's tools and learns the man's identity. Block has never been predictable, as this novella demonstrates. Much of the book is made up of easy conversation between Matt and Elaine over tea in which they recall old friends, living and dead. Block subtly combines the relationship story with the stalker plot and a second story line that comes to fruition in the last few pages. It's great to catch up with Matt, if only briefly. A superb book and a reminder to his longtime fans that this crime-fiction master hasn't lost his touch. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This well-crafted novella from MWA Grand Master Block finds recovering alcoholic and retired PI Matthew Scudder, last seen in 2011's A Drop of the Hard Stuff, and his wife, Elaine, enjoying the good life in Manhattan. Then Elaine, whom Matt met decades earlier, when he was a cop and she was a prostitute, introduces Matt to Ellen, who belongs to a 12-step program for prostitutes looking to give up the business. Ellen has disengaged from her clientele except for a man known only as Paul. Paul's obsessive and abusive behavior has driven her into hiding. Her hope is that Matt can persuade him to leave her in peace. Matt accepts the job, but how do you find one person in a city of millions when all you have is a first name? That Ellen has Paul's cell phone number is a start. The story follows an entertaining path to the satisfactory conclusion. If brevity keeps all the usual supporting characters from returning, some nice nostalgic mentions will reassure fans that they haven't been forgotten. It's good to see Matt back in action. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Jan.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Mathew Scudder tries to help a sex worker who wants out of the business but remains ensnared by an abusive client. By a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and Edgar Award-winning author.