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by Ed McBain

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-5034-6
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The latest challenge for the boys of the 87th Precinct is the kidnapping of a rising rock star.

Of course, Tamar Valparaiso, 20, doesn’t think of herself as a rocker; what she does is more Contemporary Hit Radio–Pop. And what she’s done in her debut single and video is to get assaulted by a masked Bandersnatch out of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” As she’s reenacting the video, complete with luscious lip-synching, for an audience of 112 movers and shakers handpicked by Bison Records mogul Barney Loomis aboard the launch River Princess, three intruders wearing their own masks—Yasir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and George W. Bush—burst onto the scene, make off with tomorrow’s diva, and toss the mess onto the laps of Steve Carella and Cotton Hawes. Even after an FBI Joint Task Force headed by Carella’s former friend, Lt. Corky Corcoran, muscles into the case, Loomis insists Carella stay on it, and he’s on hand for the ransom drop, which goes off without a hitch, but without results either. Witless Det. Oliver Wendell Weeks of the 88th (Fat Ollie’s Book, 2001) is on hand to contribute nothing but idiot-sage remarks about how “ze clock, she is ticking,” helps make the adventure, for all its violence, so relaxed, even playful, that it’s more carnival than mystery.

Does anybody need a reason to start reading this venerable series now? If you do, try this: It’s the freshest 48-year-old in town.