Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sadie When She Died – Ed McBain

© 1972, New American Library, New York (1st Signet printing August 1973)

I picked up yet another episode involving the 87th Precinct boys not long ago. These little paperbacks are always good when you’re trying to escape after a hard day on the job, or if you’ve had to read a bunch of deep-thinking material. Why? Because their well-written escape literature. Ed McBain was probably one of the premier police proceeduralists (sure, it’s a word—and if it’s not, it ought to be) in the business.

Gerald Fletcher has found his wife dead in the bedroom when he returns home from a business trip. And he’s happy. The defense lawyer has no qualms about telling detective Steve Carella his real feelings about the deceased. And Carella can’t let go of the nagging feeling that Fletcher did it, even when they have a confession from the junkie-turned-burglar who happened to surprise the dead Mrs. Fletcher in the apartment which was his first job.

Carella’s investigation turns up some tawdry secrets about Sarah (or Sadie as she’s known in the seedy bars of the city), and her little black book leads him to the actual killer. Fellow members on the 87th squad help out with the investigation, and Bert Kling (crest-fallen from being dumped by the love of his life), has not only a new romance on his hands, but an excellent side mystery that almost gets him killed (and does land him in a hospital bed).

The fact that this mystery takes place in the city at Christmastime is another plus for me. And it could be for you, too. Pick up a copy at your local used bookstore. I think you’ll like it. (5 reading glasses)

Benjamin Potter, July 28, 2010

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