Email this review


 McBain's 45th novel of the 87th Precinct--and you can see that practice has made this latest not perfect but perfectly easy to enjoy, with--per the formula--several parallel plots, fueled not by their modest inventiveness but by the author's confident prose: McBain knows these cops and their city of Isola like Satan knows sin, and it shows. Even the chief villain is familiar: the Deaf Man, resurrected from Eight Black Horses (1985), etc., and up to his old trick of laying tantalizing clues to a big crime--here, excerpts from a scholarly work on crowd behavior mailed to arch-nemesis cop Steve Carella as the Deaf Man plans unspecified mayhem connected to an upcoming free outdoor rap concert. (In addition to tracing the Deaf Man's elaborate planning--including tinkering with the concert's sound system and stealing a garbage truck--McBain follows one rap group's prep for the concert, which flowers into a touching romance between a singer and a composer's widow.) Also on the precinct's plate is a series of murders of graffiti artists--with one of the victims being not the expected inner-city rebel but the respected attorney in whose closet the cops find a stash of spray-paint cans. And then there's the rash of ``dumpings'' around Isola of Alzheimer's sufferers, with all identifying tags ripped from their clothing. Several subplots--a hostage crisis; a clash of pro-lifers and pro-choicers that sees Carella's deaf-mute wife drenched in blood--add further gritty big-city texture, and McBain closes out the three major cases in clever, though not inspired, fashion: most gripping is the aftermath of the Deaf Man's big caper, a noir-style fadeout in a hot-sheets motel. Not up to the series' best but still steadily engrossing cop- fare from an old hand.

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-10221-2
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993


MysteryCUT ME IN by Ed McBain
by Ed McBain
MysterySO NUDE, SO DEAD by Ed McBain
by Ed McBain
FictionLEARNING TO KILL by Ed McBain
by Ed McBain