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87th Precinct

This category contains 11 posts

The McBainiad, Book 11: ‘Give the Boys a Great Big Hand’ (1960)

‘If you are a cop, you know that death is seldom pretty, that it is in fact the ugliest and most frightening event that can overtake a human being.’ Book titles are a continuum. At one end are those descriptive, unobtrusive ones which just plainly describe what you can find inside the covers. Here you’ll … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 10: ‘King’s Ransom’ (1959)

Confession time: King’s Ransom is the first of the 87th Precinct books that (since I started re-reading them) I put to one side without finishing. This may be because the book goes against the author’s usual technique, which was to start with a corpse. King’s Ransom doesn’t have McBain’s snappiest opening; several scenes at the beginning don’t feature the … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 9: ‘Til Death’ (1959)

When I studied classical Greek and Roman literature at university, one aspect we considered was the deep relationship these stories had with the society which created them. Greek tragedy had its origins in religious ritual (the word comes from tragoidia, ‘goat song’, after the animals sacrificed during the ceremony), a time when a city-state came together. … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 8: ‘Killer’s Wedge’ (1959)

Well, it’s been one hell of a week round these parts. I got a new job – I’ll be retraining as teacher in September, thanks for asking – and Mrs WAYRF and I have also been busy on the house, trying to make it look respectable before it goes on the market. Fair to say … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 7: ‘Lady Killer’ (1958)

Lady Killer sees Ed McBain playing with some of his genre’s conventions, resulting in a crime novel that in some respects is as mannered as an Agatha Christie country-house murder. But there’s more humour and humanity in a McBain, and Lady Killer remains as readable as it was when first published nearly 50 years ago. I yomped … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 6: ‘Killer’s Payoff’ (1958)

In a series as long as Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct, it’s inevitable that some of the books will vary in quality – and whilst Killer’s Payoff is certainly no dog, it’s not as strong as some of the other earlier entries. I whipped through it in a matter of hours, which in itself is no bad thing … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 5: ‘Killer’s Choice’ (1957)

In Killer’s Choice, Ed McBain’s ambition to write a series about ‘a conglomerate hero in a mythical city’ is again brought to life by the ebb and flow of the squad room. A detective is killed in the line of duty (a move also seen in the first book, Cop Hater), whilst new recruit Cotton … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 4: ‘The Con Man’ (1957)

‘Everybody has a right to earn a living.‘ McBain was certainly doing that at the beginning of his epic 87th Precinct series, one that documents almost 50 years of American history. I’m still somewhat staggered to recall that he wrote and published the first three novels in the space of a year – although by … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 3: ‘The Pusher’ (1956)

‘Winter came in like an anarchist with a bomb. Wild-eyed, shrieking, puffing hard, it caught the city in cold, froze the marrow and froze the heart.‘ When a drug user is found dead in a freezing basement a week before Christmas, detectives Carella and Kling soon find themselves looking for a murderer amongst the precinct’s … Continue reading

The McBainiad, Book 2: ‘The Mugger’ (1956)

Book Two in the McBainiad – my quest to read all of the 87th Precinct novels in the order they were published. At this rate, I’ll finish the 54 volume series somewhere around my 52nd birthday. McBain was quicker writing them than I am in reading them; The Mugger is the second of three books … Continue reading