Ed McBain is the only American winner of the coveted Diamond Dagger Award, and he is also a past recipient of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. So, when a reader picks up the latest installment of McBain's 87th Precinct series, the bar is set pretty high. But with The Big Bad City
, McBain meets expectations.
In the opening pages, Steve Carella and Artie Brown return to the department with 9 basketball players (the 10th player was murdered) only to discover a knife fight erupting in a holding cell. It's a steamy August night, and Carella and Detective Parker end up having to shoot one of the fighters to cool things down. Then Meyer and Kling enter the scene; they're hot in pursuit of the Cookie Boy, a thief who leaves chocolate-chip cookies at every crime sight. Before the interminable day is done, Carella and Brown are called out to Grover Park to investigate a homicide. A nun has been strangled to death, but she's no ordinary Sister. She's got signs of a breast augmentation operation that hint at a sordid past. Finally, readers are privy to a conversation between Juju and Sonny. Sonny killed a cop's dad, and Juju is convinced that the police will bend the rules to see that Sonny winds up dead. Juju insists that the only way out of the death trap is to kill the cop first. The officer's name is Steve Carella. And all of this happens in the first 15 pages.
McBain is one of the artists of the police procedural. Though his city is fictional, it breathes with the darkness and gritty reality of many American cities. He enters the minds and hearts of his characters to uncover the daily insecurities that accompany the work of policemen. Readers new to the 87th Precinct will want to venture back to such tales as 1956's Cop Hater, 1964's Ax, and 1965's Doll, among the 47 installments in this series. Those who've been along for the ride will be happy they did not give up their seat. --Patrick O'Kelley
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From Publishers Weekly
McBain has been writing his 87th Precinct stories since 1956, but Isola's cops and crooks remain as fresh as rain. In the 49th book in the series, detectives Steve Carella and Artie Brown are searching for the killer of a nun. An autopsy reveals that the strangled woman had breast implants and an unconventional background, moving between her pious, charitable order and a freewheeling secular life. Other oddities are plaguing the 87th, too. The hood who recently murdered Carella's father is walking around loose because an inept prosecutor blew the case. Now the thug is stalking Carella, and Carella's sister wants to marry the prosecutor. Meanwhile, detectives Meyer Meyer and Bert King are tracking the Cookie Boy, a burglar who leaves a little box of home-baked chocolate chip cookies at his victims' homes. His crimes escalate to felony murder when he interrupts a tryst and things go very bad, very quickly. As always, McBain invests the many story lines with off-the-wall humor (nun jokes abound), a startlingly real cast of suspects and witnesses and a terrifically entertaining mix of cop dialogue, gritty city atmosphere and action. McBain is so good, he ought to be arrested.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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