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Ed McBain
bookicon
The Pusher
paperback
180 pages
The Pusher by Ed McBain (who also wrote as Evan Hunter) is the third book in the 87th Precinct series. The series is told in third per­son and has a large cast and diverse set of char­ac­ters. In the after­word, the author sums up the premise of the series say­ing it is about the “con­glom­er­ate hero in a myth­i­cal city.”

******

“There are, to be truth­ful, a lot of trou­bles with murder–but there’s one in par­tic­u­lar.
It gets to be a habit.”

“The Pusher” like the oth­ers in this series, is set in the fic­tional city of Isola. A high rank­ing cop learns an ugly truth about his son and finds him­self com­pro­mis­ing his job and his prin­ci­ples to pro­tect him.

Detec­tive Lieu­tenant Peter Byrnes gets a phone call from an anony­mous stranger who tells him that his son is a junkie. Like most hard­work­ing cops, Byrnes hasn’t been around his fam­ily much. His wife Har­riet has always under­stood the demands of his job and knows that she is a cop’s wife.

So this awful news about his only son, Larry, throws him for a loop. The scene where Byrnes con­fronts his son about his heroin addic­tion was emo­tion­ally tense and elec­tri­fy­ing because Byrnes goes from a con­cerned father to a cop who inter­ro­gates his son. That scene between father and son was fully charged to say the least.

To com­pli­cate mat­ters even more, a pusher by the name of Ani­bal Her­nan­dez is found dead from an appar­ent suicide/overdose with a syringe that might have Larry’s fin­ger­prints on it sug­gest­ing that he was the last per­son to see Ani­bal alive. Byrnes is com­mit­ted to find­ing this “stranger” who seems to know more about his fam­ily than he does and threat­ens to expose his son.

Detec­tive Steve Carella and another offi­cer are inves­ti­gat­ing the Her­nan­dez death and find that things just don’t add up. To Carella, Hernandez’s death doesn’t look like a sui­cide so he digs deeper, search­ing for a pusher with the street name of “Gonzo” and gets three bul­lets to the chest from a .32 cal­i­bre gun for his efforts. His wife Teddy, who is mute and can’t speak, stands vigil by his side.

I’m hooked. This series and McBain’s writ­ing is time­less as another reader has stated. I can’t do this book jus­tice in how good it was to read. The writ­ing is sim­ply flaw­less but still it is not a per­fect read. What fas­ci­nates me about this series is the writ­ing and the characters.

Despite the fact that cops come and go in this series, they each make their own mark. But the cen­tral recur­ring char­ac­ter in the 87th and who we have been mainly fol­low­ing is Steve Carella. I love this guy. The fact that he mar­ried a woman who can’t hear or speak says a lot about his character.

Steve and his wife, Teddy make a really nice cou­ple and the author goes a lit­tle bit into how they first met. Their scenes together, the few times we get to see them together, are mem­o­rable. Here is a brief snip­pet of Teddy’s thoughts about how they first met:

He had entered the office, and he was tall, and he walked erect, and he wore his clothes as if he were a high-priced men’s fash­ion model rather than a cop. He had showed her his shield and intro­duced him­self, and she had scrib­bled on a sheet of paper, explain­ing that she could nei­ther hear nor speak, explain­ing that the recep­tion­ist was out, that she was hired as a typ­ist, but that her employer would see him in a moment, as soon as she went to tell him the police were there. His face had reg­is­tered mild sur­prise. When she rose from her desk and went to the boss’s office, she could feel his eyes on her all the way.

McBain seems to not end his books in any big way. The cases get solved by good detec­tive work, sweat­ing sus­pects in the inter­ro­ga­tion room and then haul­ing the bad guy away in cuffs. No big bang or shoot outs here. In the end, this was a well writ­ten story about the seed­ier side of the street. We see that junkies come from all dif­fer­ent social and eco­nom­i­cal back­grounds. The end­ing was a bit ide­al­is­tic but this is fic­tion after all.

I also enjoyed read­ing the after­word where the author admits that Carella was orig­i­nally meant to die in this entry but that his edi­tors at Pocket wouldn’t let him kill “the hero.” Oh, noooo. Thank good­ness his edi­tors guided him down the right path in keep­ing Carella alive because he is truly a great guy and hero.
8/10
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Ed McBain
bookicon
Kings Ransom
paperback
176 pages
I know of no one else who can pack so much action into such a short period of time. This is book ten and I am trying to read them in order. The story in nearly all the books take place in a day or two. The books are short and make for a quick read. They are very enjoyable. A boy is kidnapped, but it is the wrong boy. They were supposed to get the son of Douglas King, a very wealth man, but they got the son of his chauffeur instead. King has all his money tied up in buying controling interest in a shoe company and if he pays the ransom he loses the shoe company. The men from the 87th are trying to find who took the boy but if King does not pay they think the boy will be killed. Every thing moves at a very fast pace, will King do what is right and pay up? Will Carella and company find the boy? Makes for a good read.
8/10
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Ed McBain
bookicon
Money Money Money
paperback
352 pages
Cass Ridley flew in Iraq in the first Gulf War. Now she is out of the military and flying drugs out of Mexico for a quick $200,000. She ends up naked in the lion exhibit at the zoo as breakfast for the lions on December 22nd. Half of the lion exhibit is in the 87th precinct and half of it is in the 88th precinct and since one of the lions drug one of Cass's legs into the 88th precinct side of the compound, Steve Carella and Fat Ollie end up with responsibility for the murder. Along the way a burglar, counterfiet money, Secret Service men, murdred book sellers, Iranian terrorist, drug sellers and blonde prostitutes that end up being hit persons have to be accounted for before Carella and Fat Ollie can enjoy their holidays.

Carella is still struggling with his fathers recent murder and Fat Ollie is still misanthropic. Fat Ollie also saves Carella's life twice and is learning to play the piano, well he is "kind of" learning to play the piano. And then he and Carella have to go to a publishing house to investigate the death of one of the sales representatives that worked there and Fat Ollie pitches a book he is wanting to write and........

Ed McBain juggles a lot of story elements expertly and never drops one of the balls he is juggling. In the end, the conclusion stretches credibility some but is still in keeping with the 87th series that Money, Money, Money is the 51st entry in. Ed McBain is not only able to write 51 books about these guys without sounding bored and tired of the chore of writing about them, he is able to write one in Money, Money, Money that is funny, human, and exciting.
8/10
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Running Apache