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Candyland: A Novel In Two Parts [Hardcover]

Ed McBain , Evan Hunter
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 3 2001
Evan Hunter is known for his powerful novels and screenplays. Ed McBain is known for portraying the soul of the cop. They have distinct narrative voices, but both are bestselling storytellers who have received worldwide acclaim. Now, in "Candyland," they join for the first time to write a single story -- a powerful novel of obsession. Benjamin Thorpe is married, a father, a successful Los Angeles architect -- and a man obsessed. Alone in New York City on business, he spends the empty hours of the night in a compulsive search for female companionship. His dizzying descent leads to an early morning confrontation in a midtown bordello and a searing self-revelation. Part I of "Candyland" is a fever-pitched search for identity, seen through Benjamin's obsessed eyes and told in classic Evan Hunter style. Part II opens in Ed McBain territory. Three detectives are discussing a homicide. The victim is a young prostitute whose path crossed Benjamin Thorpe's the night before. Emma Boyle of the Special Victims Unit is assigned to the case. As the foggy events of the previous night come into sharper focus, Thorpe becomes an ever more possible suspect. The detailed police investigation and excruciating suspense are classic Ed McBain. Shocking, bold, and compulsively readable, "Candyland" is a groundbreaking literary event.

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From Amazon

Two of the best mystery writers in America team up in this interesting Law and Order-type experiment. In the first half of the book, a sexually voracious architect prowls the dark corners of New York looking for some action before he heads back to his frigid L.A. wife. In the second half, a prostitute's grisly rape-murder engages the attention of the guys (and girl) in blue. What's the connection between the murdered woman and the obsession-ridden architect? A string of coincidences that make the reader expect a surprise ending, of course. But it doesn't happen, which makes one wonder why the two authors (who happen to be the same person) bothered with the gimmick. Still, both Ed McBain (author of the 87th Precinct novels) and Evan Hunter (his more literary and much sexier incarnation) are old pros, so the pacing, character development, and thorough knowledge of police procedure and human nature that mark this tidy little mystery make it a pleasant enough diversion. A new McBain or Hunter is always cause for celebration, and Candyland, which is a lot grittier than most police procedurals, will titillate their many fans until either (or both) comes through with a new thriller. The distinct narrative voices of the multitalented writer are on view here; although the writing styles aren't different enough to make it more than a parlor trick, the result is still twice as good as most of the season's new offerings. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Hunter (The Blackboard Jungle; etc.) and McBain (the 87th Precinct novels) are the same man, of course, although all the evidence in this superb crime novel, other than a brief confession tucked within the jacket copy, says otherwise. The photo on the back of the jacket, for instance, depicts two men standing together--Hunter in a dark suit and McBain in more casual jeans, sunglasses and cap. Most notably, the writing styles employed in the novel's first part, "The Rain May Never Fall Till After Sundown..." by Hunter, and in the (equally long) second part, McBain's "By Eight, the Morning Fog Must Disappear..." are as alike as sauerkraut and cookies. The first is a cuttingly incisive character study of L.A. architect Ben Thorpe, married and in his late 40s. He spends his final night of a Manhattan business trip drinking and frantically chasing women--a pickup in a bar, an old girlfriend for phone sex and finally two prostitutes in a brothel, where Thorpe insults a third whore and is beaten by the bouncer, only to be rescued by a kindly streetwalker who takes him to her home. The pages flow with the speed and intense detail of a fever dream as Hunter captures the insatiable drive and lavish self-excusing of the sex addict. The section closes with Ben standing in late-night Manhattan rain, then leaps ahead to the next day and McBain's world of Special Victims detective Emma Boyle and her fellow cops, assigned to the murder of a prostitute--the one whom Thorpe insulted. Fashioned in tougher, more clipped, yet just as insightful prose as what came before, this material digs deep into the damaged private lives of the cops even as they hunt the killer--who may be Thorpe--as doggedly as Thorpe pursues women. Each part of the novel works beautifully alone but also in tandem, adding up to a multifaceted, psychologically astute portrait of crime and punishment that has "Edgar nominee" written all over it. Agent, Jane Gelfman.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Stories, One Murder April 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Candyland" is not so much a novel as a concept piece, the idea of two authors, both the same man, writing separate novellas that intersect at a specific event. Evan Hunter wrote "The Blackboard Jungle," the screenplay for Hitchcock's "The Birds," and a slew of serious novels. Ed McBain, Hunter's best-known pseudonym, is the author of the 87th Precinct crime novels. "Candyland" is a McBain crime novel, too, about the murder of a hooker. But it is also a Hunter portrait, of a man suspected of killing her.
Ed McBain novels are especially interesting when they stray from the 87th Precinct. "Downtown," a dark comedy of a man lost in the big bad city a la "After Hours" but with a body count and better jokes, was up there with Elmore Leonard's finest. "The Sentries" was a bizarre Cold War paranoia tale with a remarkably downbeat and unpleasant tone for airport fiction. "Candyland" is a brilliant and clever detour from the fictional environs of the 87th Precinct's Isola to the reality of New York City, and one of his best crime stories yet.
The tone is the same as in the 87th Precinct novels, dark and funny and acutely sensitive to how police officers operate. In the second half of the novel, the criminal investigation part written by "McBain," two detectives have a problem questioning a witness. The guy turns to the woman after they are done:
" 'We ought to arrange some signals we can use. If we are going to be working together any amount of time. Like if I touch my nose, for example, it'll mean you're Good Cop, I'm Bad Cop. Or if I call you Em instead of Emma...'
" 'I told you I don't like being called Em.'
" 'That's just what I'm saying. If I call you Em in front of somebody we're questioning, that'll mean Don't go there. Same as if you call me James.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book from the master April 13 2001
Format:Hardcover
In part one we meet Benjamin Thorpe, a successful LA architect in New York for a short business trip. Benjamin Thorpe is also obsessed with sex. The night before he's due to return to LA he goes on the prowl. However things don't work out well and he finds himself beaten, robbed, and thrown into the gutter. But someone comes along to help him and Benjamin Thorpe finds out something about himself. Something that he's suppressed ever since he was seven years old.
In part two we meet NY Detective Emma Boyle. Emma is a rape squad detective who's been assigned a rape/murder case of a young prostitute. A prostitute who had dealings with Benjamin Thorpe the same night of the murder.
Even though this book is written by the same man, Evan Hunter, he uses both of his writing personas. Part 1 is written in "Evan Hunter" mode, which is more introspective and literary, and Part 2 is written in "Ed McBain" mode which is more nuts-and-bolts police procedural. However in both parts the characterization is vivid, the dialog crisp, and writing well done. Mr. Hunter seems to be exploring sexual obsession lately as can be seen in his books "Criminal Conversations" and "Privileged Conversations" and now this one. I'd like to see him move away from this area since I think he's explored it enough but that doesn't make this book any less good. It's not an 87th Precinct and shouldn't be approached in that light but it is a very good read. I'd recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars some readers missed the point on this one March 31 2001
Format:Hardcover
'Candyland' is *not* intended as a Law & Order type episode, where a crime is committed and solved in the first half and then tried in court in the second half. 'Candyland' is written by a single author who brings his two literary personas together to explore the different elements of the same story. The first half, by literary author Evan Hunter (his real name), is a character study of a sex addict, named Ben Thorpe, and his struggle to feed that addiction. This is not a 'male sex fantasy' or the writing of a 'dirty old man' as some readers have charged: this is more of a study of a dangerous pathology that damages so many, many women and children. Sex addiction is just like drug or alcohol addiction: it increases in intensity, it leads to destruction, it is often steeped in great personal pain (a sex addict was often molested in childhood). Ben's night careens through encounters with various women, all of whom are damaged themselves, and ends in violence and self-revelation. The question is, does that self-revelation come in time to save him from himself, to save other women from him?
This question drives the second half. Part 2 shifts into detective/mystery genre, which Hunter writes under his pen name (more famous than his real name) Ed McBain. McBain picks up on the theme of addiction and the damage and violence it can wreak: a prostitute is found raped and murdered, and Ben Thorpe is one of the suspects. Whether or not Ben is actually guilty, McBain makes it very, very clear that the prostitute's brutal death is a direct result of the kind of untreated sex addiction explored in Ben's story, and that men like Ben need help -- fast -- before their obsession destroys them and the unfortunate people caught in their wake.
Hunter is a worldly, intelligent, and very skilful writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pairing of two mystery masters is no gimmick March 25 2001
Format:Hardcover
Evan Hunter, author of Blackboard Jungle and the screenplay for The Birds, and Ed McBain, master of the police procedural through 50 novels in his 87th Precinct series, are together again for the first time. One in the same person, McBain is the alter ego of Hunter. Candyland: A Novel in Two Parts is the first collaborative effort of these two distinct literary voices.
Hunter, in the first part of the novel, traces the ravenous sexual cravings of Benjamin Thorpe, a prestigious Los Angeles architect, in New York for one night. Thorpe is both narrator and actor in his search for sexual conquest. Unable to find a partner for phone sex, he shifts to the hotel bar to see who might be "working" there. Thorpe's essential architectural question is: "Does it work? Does it work both functionally and esthetically?" On the prowl for sex, his "essential question" is fundamentally the same, "Does she work?" From the bar, he moves to the XS Salon where "complete satisfaction" is guaranteed. When he makes advances to the baby doll nightie clad Heidi, he finds himself suddenly in the gutter, beaten and bleeding. McBain picks up with part two the morning after. Three NYPD detectives are discussing the strangulation and rape of Cathy Frese, a prostitute who works at the XS Salon and goes by the name of Heidi. Because the killing crosses boundaries, Emma Boyle of Special Victims is working with a cop from Homicide and one from Vice, both men. Roiling at the suggestion that the crime should be treated as "a-run-of-the-mill rape" Emma becomes a lone wolf in the investigation.
Through Emma's persistence, intuition, and insight, one small clue leads to another, and to another, culminating in a shocking conclusion. All of McBain's police procedural skills are in evidence as is Hunter's adeptness at getting deep into the psychology of his characters.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the McBain/Hunter Contrast
As a long-time fan of the 87th precinct novels by McBain, I was interested in seeing what the contrast would be like between McBain and Hunter. Read more
Published on June 23 2003 by jh2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Candyland
I must say how much I enjoyed this book. The first half (the Evan Hunter section) moves like a runaway train! Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by "harky972"
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad /nothing special
Well having read the first part, I expected to find some
excitement in the second part , such as Thorpe's struggle
to prove he was not the murderer, Thorpe's getting... Read more
Published on March 12 2002 by buzgibi
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring disappointment
I have read with enjoyment dozens of his books, so I was shocked to find this one boring and disgusting. Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I'm a great fan of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope novels, but I really didn't enjoy this at all. I kept reading, hoping something exciting would happen but it didn't. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by Dolphin
1.0 out of 5 stars Candyland
Although not really a fan of Ed McBain I have read a few of his 87 Precinct books. I thought since this wasn't a 87th book I'd give it a try. What a boring book. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2001 by "paharmon370"
1.0 out of 5 stars Second half ruins novel. Good concept, bad execution.
I've never read McBain before, but I have read three Hunter novels. So the first half of this book, the part by Hunter, is just what I expected and quite interesting... Read more
Published on May 14 2001 by Bill Garrison
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Too much description of shocking sexual actions. Not enough effort to make the characters interesting, memorable, or likable. This was a disappointing work from the author. Read more
Published on April 17 2001 by Rebecca McMichael
1.0 out of 5 stars ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
I tried very hard to read this turkey.......basically it amounts to pages and pages of soft core porn and Thorpe's fat ego...... Read more
Published on March 31 2001 by Dusty
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