Monday, October 26, 2009

Cop Hater – Ed McBain

© 1956, New American Library, New York (1st Signet printing October 1973)

I knew that I’d found a copy of Ed McBain’s first 87th Precinct novel at this year’s book fair. Somehow it was misplaced for a couple of months, but I found it, and it is a superb introduction to the boys of the 87th Precinct.

In this early installment by the master of police procedural writing detective Steve Carella and company find themselves investigating the senseless murder of their colleague Mike Reardon. The early murder of this cop is followed quickly by the death of his partner David Foster, and culminating in the murder of Carella’s own partner Hank Bush. Who is the cop hater that’s killing off the 87th? Is it members of the gang known as The Grovers? Is it an old con, just released from prison after having been put away by one or more of the dead cops? Is it a recently released headcase? Or just a lunatic who has it out for cops?

This gem, besides introducing us to Carella and Lt. Byrnes, also provides some of the back story for Carella’s relationship with his wife, Teddy—a character who provides some relief from the mundane daily grind of police detection for both Carella and the reader. Again I highly recommend this installment from the 87th. Five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, October 26, 2009

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