Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hark! – Ed McBain

Hark! (87th Precinct Series #54)©2004 Simon & Schuster, New York

As police procedurals go, you cannot beat a good 87th Precinct novel. It’s just fun to follow the everyday goings-on as the police decipher each bit of evidence that comes their way. And nobody seems to tell the tale better than the late Ed McBain could. The stories are generally well-written and easy to read.

Hark! follows the guys at the eight-seven as they unravel the murder of Gloria Stanford (an Americanized anagram of her German “Antsdorf”). The use of the anagram to change her name gave her murderer, who turns out to be Adam Fen (another anagram for the recurring nemesis of Carella, Kling and the boys—the Deaf Man), the ingenious idea of how to confuse and be-muddle the detectives of the 87th squad.

Though the murder gets the ball rolling, the major crime is a big pay-off for the Deaf Man who weaves a Shakespearean web by sending quotes from the Bard to at the same time tell the police about the crime he intends to commit and confuse them as well.

While this is a good diversion for a few hours’ reading, Hark! does have its draw-backs. Thrown into the mix of the on-going daily calls that we see in the 87th are the developing/dying relationships between various cops on the squad. And then Carella is distracted by the upcoming double wedding of his widowed mother to an Italian furniture mogul from Milan and his sister to the assistant DA who let their father’s murderer get away with the crime.

Even these distractions don’t hurt the telling of the story—at least not too much anyway. Again, those who like police procedurals in the line of Hill Street Blues and Blue Bloods will have a nice time with this 87th Precinct story. Four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, September 15, 2012

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