Candyland: A Novel In Two Parts Hardcover – Jan 3 2001
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on June 23 2003 by jh2003
I must say how much I enjoyed this book. The first half (the Evan Hunter section) moves like a runaway train! Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002
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
I have read with enjoyment dozens of his books, so I was shocked to find this one boring and disgusting. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2002
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 morePublished on Aug. 31 2001 by Dolphin
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 morePublished on Aug. 2 2001
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 morePublished on May 14 2001 by Bill Garrison
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 morePublished on April 17 2001 by Rebecca McMichael