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A Novel of the 87th Precinct

by Ed McBain

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2005
ISBN: 0-15-101216-4
Publisher: Otto Penzler/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The boys of the 87th Precinct hunt a serial killer who won’t play by the rules.

Most serials stab or strangle their victims; this one shoots them in the face with a 9mm Glock. Most serials target a group with obvious similarities—cabdrivers, hookers, drifters; the only thing these victims seem to have in common is their age, which ranges from 50 on up. Most disturbingly: Unlike most serials, who pause for weeks or months before they kill again, this one seems hell-bent on claiming a record for speed. So there’s every reason for Steve Carella, Meyer Meyer, Bert Kling, Cotton Hawes, Andy Parker, Richard Genero and Artie Brown to nail the perp as soon as they can. But each victim’s life seems so different, and each killing leaves so many witnesses to interview, and so many apparent leads peter out that even longtime fans of the mystery field’s premier procedural series (Hark!, 2004, etc.) may wonder when the threads will all come together, or how many of them will be left hanging—especially when several stalwarts of the 87th have problems that need watching in their personal lives, and when ineffably witless Detective Oliver Wendell Weeks of the neighboring 88th takes a proprietary interest in the case.

The result, despite a serious anticlimax, is a single-plot mystery that feels far more generous, and one of the most comprehensive portraits of McBain’s fictional kingdom of Isola ever.