Monday, December 15, 2008

Shotgun – Ed McBain

©1969 Signet, New York

I’ve found a new “go to” collection whenever I’ve run out of good reading material—or when I’m waiting on the next “must read” to hit the streets. I found them down at the 87th Precinct.

Shotgun is another masterful procedural that makes you know that somebody in the seventies and eighties was reading McBain. How else could we explain the resemblance that shows like Hill Street Blues had to the boys in blue at the 87th? At any rate, true to form, Shotgun opens on the scene of a bloody murder—not just a murder but a double murder, and Carella and Kling swing into action.

I think what makes these books work so well is that it doesn’t focus so much on the cops as it does on the crime. True, the cops are the ones that solve the crime, but it is the solving of the crime that is the star of the show. In this case, Andrew and Rosie Leyden have been murdered in their uptown apartment. Not just any murder, but murdered with a shotgun. Not just any murder with a shotgun, but two blasts each to the face. As an afterthought, the murderer tried to make the husband look like a murderer turned suicidist. The job is a sloppy one, though that will not fool even the greenest of beat cops.

Shotgun is a fast read that will while away a few moments when you don’t want to think, but don’t mind a puzzle. Prop up your feet and grab a paperback reissue of an 87th Precinct novel and you’ll enjoy a good story. Shotgun would be a good choice. Four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, December 15, 2008


Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA said...

McBain is a good writer. I read a lot of cop stuff (duh!). The difficulty most have is that they tell too much about police procedure, making, as you say, the way in which police work the story, instead of using the police procedure as a vehicle to move the story along - me, I like stories - had enough of solving crimes:)

Benjie said...

Thanks for stopping by Lt. Foster. I'd rather "watch" the story unfold than have it explained to me. The details get too much play--probably why I don't enjoy Clancy so much.

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