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Summary

Nine long years have passed since the killer last struck - nine years since eight helpless young women were brutally slaughtered by an icepick-wielding maniac. The trail grew cold and the book was unofficially closed on a serial killer who stopped killing. But now "The Icepick Prowler" has confessed - but only to seven of the killings. Not only does he deny the eighth, he has an airtight alibi. Barbara Ettinger's family had almost come to accept that the young woman was the victim of a random killing. Now they must grapple with the shocking revelation that not only was her death disguised to look like the serial killer's work, but her murderer may have been someone she knew and trusted. Matthew Scudder has been hired to finally bring her slayer to justice, setting the relentless detective on the trail of a death almost a decade old, searching for a vicious murderer who's either long gone, long dead... or patiently waiting to kill again.

©1981 Lawrence Block. All rights reserved. (P)2011 AudioGo

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"Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter."

Nine years after a murder spree in which several women were stabbed and partially mutilated, the Ice Pick Prowler was caught, and confessed to all but one of the murders. The distraught father of the odd one out was revered to Scudder, ex cop, hard drinker and not an official Private Investigator, to look into her death 'as a favour' for money. With little to go on besides instinct and present memories - 'a dead dog, a dead marriage, a dead woman on the kitchen floor', Matt drinks his way through his enquiries, 'picking up the past and disturbing the present'.
The story is, as usual, told in the first person giving the reader some insight into Matt's thinking. Narrator William Roberts makes a fine Matthew Scudder, becoming the investigator determined, laid back with his troubled persona. A good performance.
There were a couple of minor editing points, like the continued inclusion of the instructions, 'This is the end of Risk 4. Disc 5" but nothing sufficiently intrusive to interrupt enjoyment.

Lawrence Block is an excellent writer of noir, with fully developing character of more than just the main protagonist and sparse description which can call up the scene in minimal words. I downloaded this, book 4 in the Matt Scudder series as a complimentary copy from the Audible Plus programme. Thank you, Audible. The stories can be read in any order.

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  • Mark
  • 11-04-17

Letdown

Compared to the first three Scudder books this one is a letdown. Plus the narrator is a step back from Alan Sklar who did the first three.

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  • Justin D.
  • 13-02-16

Scudder's alcoholism is becoming an issue

If you could sum up A Stab in the Dark in three words, what would they be?

Scudder is unraveling.

Would you listen to another book narrated by William Roberts?

While not an awful narrator, I actually preferred the previous narrator in the series. This one had a taste for the cliche when picking his voices. Even Scudder's inner voice had a little New York cab driver in it.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This one made me feel the depressive pull of falling in the bottle. It did a very good job of capturing the state of denial alcoholics find themselves in. Scudder keeps finding new ways to explain his drunken actions.

Any additional comments?

If you want to know when the writing takes a notch up, this would be it. Scudder has become a fully complex character. You may even grow to dislike him at points during this one. That is not a bad thing. A truly heroic character needs flaws front, center, and hidden.

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  • BDHumbert
  • 14-04-15

Unfolding

One thing that I think Lawrence Block does very well is that his plot seems to "unfold". His stories don't very often surprise with things that you are shocked with - rather they evolve with a logic that makes sense when you reflect back on them. Scudder never seems lost or in over his head - rather he is analytical and dogged. Also prefer the length of these to the 15 hour plus convoluted epics

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  • antonio
  • 18-08-12

A good reading !

This is one of the early Matt Scudder's stories. You can tell that Lawrence Block is still working on Matt's character , but the story runs smooth with a terrific description of the New York "ambiance" . Definitively a good reading !

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  • horsestuff
  • 19-05-22

All about the people

The plot was incidental to relationships and alcoholism. Not what I would call thriller/suspense

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  • happyjo
  • 21-03-22

A stab in the dark

Oh how I love an old fashioned murder mystery ! this mystery had the hard core ex cop detective and all kinds of suspects to be interviewed.

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  • good-girl
  • 31-10-21

The F word

I didn’t want to listen to hours of the F word. I wouldn’t put down a book because of a curse word occasionally, but, to use the F word over and over adds nothing to the story. Profanity is the last resort of the uneducated.

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  • DF
  • 04-08-21

Great Story

Very interesting "Who Dunnit" and a worthwhile read. I've posted other reviews about earlier 'Matt Scudder' books by Lawrence Block and you can jump back to review my take on a 1940s style detective set in the 1970s. Scudder is definitely an interesting character.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, this narration was taken from a CD set, and I even heard end of disc 4 as part of the narration, and my chief complaint is that the chapters on the CD OR IN the book do not align with the chapters in audible, so if you lose your place, you have to go back and search for your spot. I got this for free, so I shouldn't complain, but had I purchased this I'd be returning it.

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  • Claire
  • 22-06-21

narration

i prefer Skylars narration. i couldn't get used to the new accent . otherwise great

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  • Dan Porter
  • 14-06-21

How Scudder made the change in his life

Having listened to the stories about the drinker Scudder and some of the stories after he implemented his life style upgrade, I was curious about what lead to the start of the change. This satisfied my curiosity plus had a very interesting investigation. My preference has been the stories of the non-drinking Scudder