The Frumious Bandersnatch Hardcover – Dec 23 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Amazingly, MWA Grand Master McBain remains as fresh and sharp-edged as ever in his 53rd 87th Precinct novel (after 2003's Fat Ollie's Book), which takes on the culture of celebrity. Bison Records' self-styled impresario Barney Loomis runs into a snag in his effort to catapult his newest performer, Tamar Valparaiso, to stardom. As Tamar is lip-synching the provocative video of her first album aboard a rented yacht, two men in Saddam Hussein and Yasir Arafat masks snatch her before a stunned audience. With his usual expert pacing, McBain alternates the action among a number of characters, including the kidnappers and Tamar; series stalwart Steve Carella, who must endure political maneuvering within a Joint Task Force of police bigwigs and FBI agents; and misogynist Ollie Weeks and his new amour, Det. Patricia Gomez. McBain injects enough humor to leaven the underlying tragedy-the fate of a vulnerable, talented young woman. Although it's soon obvious who's behind Tamar's kidnapping, we don't read McBain for surprising denouements but for his true-to-life dialogue, skill at defining characters and effortless transitions. The Lewis Carroll theme provides an extra level of enjoyment.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Tamar Valparaiso, would-be hip-hop diva, is poised on the precipice of stardom. Her new video is set for release, and her recording company has rented a yacht for a chic launch party. Tamar is performing a live version of her rape-fantasy video when two armed intruders snatch her and escape on a small speedboat. Steve Carella and Cotton Hawes of the 87th Precinct catch the call. There are dozens of eyewitnesses, but the kidnappers leave no trace. Even though kidnappings are usually the FBI's purview, Tamar's promoter coerces the feds into keeping Carella and Hawes on the case. Meanwhile, the kidnapping is replayed thousands of times on cable, and the talking heads debate the propriety of Tamar's video, in which a potential rape victim repels her attacker in a fantasy sequence. In 48 hours, Tamar has morphed from wanna-be to megastar in the wake of a potential tragedy. As Carella and Hawes track down the kidnappers, McBain--the godfather of the police procedural--skewers cable news, the music industry, FBI bureaucrats, the current presidential administration, and the Patriot Act. It's difficult to praise a single 87th Precinct novel as demonstrably better than the preceding 52, so let's just say the current case is always the best, but only until the next one. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
I hope this is the first of a whole new "Lewis Carroll" series for the 87th Precinct. It isn't McBain's best book by any accounting--for me, the best run was the long list of vintage novels from the late 70s through late 80s, from Calypso through Heat, Ice, etc, when he could do no wrong. But this is the best of the recent crop of titles. Hooray for a great grand master!
Diving in, you might think "The Frumious Bandersnatch" is one of the 87th's more comic outings, given its goofy name and the focus on the cult of celebrity surrounding this particular case. It's not especially intriguing as mysteries go. The singer is plucked off a yacht by a pair of masked intruders just as she finishes a lip-synched dance routine for a music industry crowd and a local TV news camera team. It takes 50 pages for the crime to occur, then another 100 pages for the kidnappers to call with their demands, while McBain lavishes his attention on the music industry and our culture of complaint. 87th Precinct detective Steve Carella finds himself used as an errand boy by a joint FBI/police task force, while the rest of the precinct is left on ice.
McBain does use one interesting character I haven't seen before, a former police academy buddy of Carella's named Corcoran who runs the police side of the task force and has gotten too big for his britches in his new post, ordering his old friend around and insisting on being called "lieutenant." This bit of intraservice rivalry is well played out, especially when the 87th jumps into action late in the book to try and break the case ahead of the task force.
But there's not much else to be said for "Bandersnatch.Read more ›
Partway through the performance of the song that should launch Tara to super-stardom, the party is rudely interrupted by a couple of masked men carrying guns. They boldly stride in and kidnap the budding songstress from under the noses of over 100 onlookers.
The part of the river that the kidnapping took place happens to fall under the jurisdiction of the 87th Precinct and the detective who happens to catch the call is Steve Carella. Long time readers of this series would probably agree that Carella is the best and brightest of the 87th Precinct detectives, certainly he's the central character in most of the books and he takes the lead again here.
The case is only in the 87th Precinct's hands for a short time before the FBI become involved and takes over. Carella however is enlisted to help on the task force at the request of Barney Loomis. As can be imagined neither the FBI nor Carella are thrilled at the prospect of working together and it isn't terribly long before Carella walks out on the team turning the investigation into a head to head race between the FBI and the 87th Precinct to catch the kidnappers and find the girl.
It's only when Carella leaves the FBI task force and begins investigating using the tried and true methods that have made the series so popular and long-lived, that the pace picks up. That's not to say the first half of the book was terribly slow, but it does seem to spend a good deal of time in setting up the adversarial atmosphere between the kidnappers and the law enforcement agencies.Read more ›
Ed McBain is still one of the best at this genre.
Most recent customer reviews
Musical entrepreneur Barney Loomis discovers Tamar, a gorgeous looking Mexican-Russian girl with the voice of an angel and a body that would stop men in their tracks. Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by Beverley Strong
The latest 87th precinct novel finds Steve Carella and company trying to locate the kidnapped pop singer, Tamar Valparaiso. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2004 by Larry
Look out Cher, Madonna, J Lo & Brittney! Tamar Valparaiso is young and beautiful and poised to be Pop's Next Diva. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by TundraBee
I've been on a bit of a television-viewing jag recently, watching marathon showings of police ensemble series such as NYPD Blue, Homicide and Hill Street Blues. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2004 by Amazon Customer
I have been an avid reader of Ed McBain for many years, but his last two books are terrible reads; weak characterizations, inconsistent and wandering plots, long rambling pages of... Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2004
"The Frumious Bandersnatch" is the 53rd novel in the exceptional 87th Precinct series by Ed McBain. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004 by Ricky N.
In THE FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH, Ed McBain weaves biting satire and police procedural into pure gold. His prime target is the 21st century record business and some of the evils... Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by charles falk
It's hard to believe that the 87th Precinct series has been around for over forty years, and covers fifty-three novels. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2004 by Tracy D. Cook