Friday, May 30, 2008

Ten Plus One by Ed McBain (87th Precinct)

The classic 87th Precinct novels are my favorites because of books like Ten Plus One, the fifteenth in the series. From the beginning, it contains some of McBain's best writing. And I'm talking about descriptive, sometimes philosophical prose — something rare in crime novels, anyway. But when an author begins a novel (about a sniper picking off citizens) with a tongue-in-cheek section on how it's illegal to die in the springtime (autumn is much more appropriate), you've got something special.

And Ten Plus One continues to impress! Each victim gets a full rundown of the events, thoughts, and feelings leading up to their final moments, making each a real person before becoming a corpse.

(Chapter 10, detailing the tragedy of Frankie Pierce, a victim of a different sort, is worth singling out as an example of bad police work, and also as a cautionary tale. Parents should read it to their kids as a reason why you should never get on the wrong side of the law because it labels you forever.)

The plot, the motive, the backstory detailing the connections of the victims to each other, and the solution are all very original — and even groundbreaking by implication, especially where past events are concerned, making Ten Plus One an absolute necessity for Ed McBain fans.

1 comment:

KentAllard said...

It's been years since I read them, but I used to love the 87th Precinct novels. I always liked the black humor in them, like the one where someone is killing graffiti "artists" and they can't find a cop who wants to arrest him. Good stuff.

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