posted by Judy Harris
visit my homepage at http://users.bestweb.net/~foosie/index.htm
or E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the introduction to a reissue of COP HATER, the
first of the 87th PRECINCT novels, originally published in
1956, Ed McBain wrote: The early McBains usually
took a month [to write]. Nowadays, perhaps
because the novels are longer, they take two
months. COP HATER took a much longer time because
there was a lot of research to do for the first book in the
series. Herbert Alexander was then
editor-in-chief of Pocket Books and told McBain that Erle
Stanley Garner was the mainstay, but was getting old and they
were looking for a mystery writer who would eventually replace
McBain continues: I had most enjoyed writing
the police stories--which were frankly influenced by the old
series on radio--and it seemed to me that
a good series character would be a cop, even though I knew
next to nothing about cops at the time. I knew, for
certain, though, that any other character
dealing with murder was unconvincing. If you come
home late at night and found your wife murdered in the
bed you shared, you didn't call a private eye, and you
didn't call a little old lady with knitting needles, and
if you called your lawyer it was to ask what you should
say when you called the police. In fiction, there
is always a quantum jump to be made when anyone but a
police detective in investigating a murder.
... But then, thinking it
through further, it seemed to me that a single cop did not a
series make, and it further seemed to me that something new
in the annals of police procedurals (I don't even know if
they were called that back then) would be a squadroom full
of cops, each with different traits, who--when put
together--would form a conglomerate hero. ...
So, then, a squadroom of police detectives as my
conglomerate hero. And, of course, New York City as
the setting. ... I found the New York
City Police Department somewhat reluctant to let the author
of THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE into its precincts or its
cars. ... Finally, after much perseverance, I
was allowed to visit and take notes, except when prisoners
were being interrogated. I rode with cops, I talked
with cops, I spent hours in the squadrooms and labs and at
line-ups (now defunct except for identification purposes),
and in court, and in holding cells--until I felt I knew what
being a cop was all about. And then ... I sat down to
write. And discovered that I was calling the NYPD
almost daily. As gracious as they were, I soon learned
that cops had real crimes to solve, lab technicians
were often too busy to discuss my problems at length,
forensics specialists had open corpses on the table at the
moment and could not be bothered with fictitious ones.
I learned, in short, that I was becoming a pain in the
neck. And I realized early on that if I had to count
on the NYPD to verify every detail of the procedure in the
books I was writing, I would have to spend more time on the
phone than I was spending at the typewriter.
So I asked myself why I had to use a real
city? What if the city I used was like New
York, but not quite New York. What if I
premised my geography only locally on the real city, stuck
with routine that was realistic for any police department in
America ("clinical verity") ... and then winged it from
there? ... Thus was the mythical city born. Out of
desperation, I guess. ... It's not simply a matter of
north being east and south being west or Isola representing
Manhattan and Calm's Point representing Brooklyn. ...
The city, then, became a character. So did the
weather. ... But there is one other character worth
mentioning: the author. I
know that in these books I frequently commit the
unpardonable sin of author intrusion. Somebody will
suddenly start talking or thinking or commenting and it
won't be any of the cops or crooks, it'll just be this
faceless, anonymous "someone" sticking his nose into the
proceedings like an unwanted guest. Sorry.
That's me. Or rather, it's Ed McBain.
In the 1994 introduction to the reissue of LADY KILLER,
McBain reveals that all the books in the early paperback
original days of the series were 180 pages long, "not a
page more, not a page less. If they'd have been as
long as [1994's] 87th Precinct novels, which run some
400 to 450 pages in manuscript, I'd have been"
typing away all summer. "Twenty pages a day was not
unusual ... back then. This output diminished over the
years to ten pages a day, and eventually to eight pages."
for a January 2000 NYTimes interview with Ed McBain.
||Carella investigates with partner Bush
the killing of 2 detectives from the 87th Precinct.
Appearances by Lt. Byrnes, Sam Grossman, Miscolo and Danny
the Gimp. Carella marries Teddy at the end.
Made into a 1958
b/w feature film with Robert Loggia
||1956||Carella is on his honeymoon, so Havilland and Willis investigate a series of muggings. Meantime, the pregnant sister of a murdered girl asks Kling to look into her death, even though he's only a uniformed cop pounding a beat. Through this investigation, Kling meets Claire Townsend, whom he starts to date. Eileen Burke is enlisted to go undercover to try to trap the mugger, and Monoghan and Monroe, a double act from Homicide, intimidate Kling to drop his investigations, but he solves the case and is promoted to detective. Made into a 1958 film. In 2016, included in the paperback CUT ME IN (Hard Case Crime), originally published under the name Hunt Collins as THE PROPOSITION, is a 1953 short story NOW DIE IN IT, in which this identical plot is played out with McBain's disgraced P.I. Matt Cordell in place of Kling.|
||1957||Patrolman Genero discovers the body of
an addict, dead from an overdose, although obviously
murdered because he's also been hanged. Fingerprints
on the syringe turn out to belong to the son of Lieutenant
Byrnes. Kling continues to date Claire, while he and
Carella investigate. They try to find the title
character, whose nickname is Gonzo, resulting in Carella's
being shot in the chest in Grover Park.
Made into a 1960
b/w film with Robert Lansing.
In the Afterword to the reissue of this title, McBain reveals his intention to kill off Carella in this third novel, but being talked out of it by his agent and editor, primarily because they perceived this character to be a hero and because it was Christmas Day. Further, McBain wrote "Confusion about names ... is something I have used frequently in book after book, a sort of recurring theme. ... In LADY KILLER, the essential clue hinges on a name. Ditto in KILLER'S CHOICE" and WIDOWS. Confusion over a place name occurs in THE LAST DANCE.
||The Con Man
||1957||Artie Brown tries to track down a con
man who generally works with an accomplice, while Carella
and Kling look for the murderer of two out-of-town girls
with tattoos on their hands, poisoned by arsenic and
dumped in the river. Teddy Carella accompanies Steve
to an interview of tattooist Charlie Chen, who tempts her
to get a black butterfly on her shoulder. Adapted as
episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||1957||Carella and Hawes investigate a theft
which resulted in the death of dirty detective Roger
Havilland, while Kling and Meyer look into the murder of a
young woman in a liquor store. As in SADIE WHEN SHE
DIED, the victim seems to have been different things to
different people. Cotton Hawes joins the 87th from
the 30th and makes a faux pas which almost costs
the life of the recently wounded Carella. According
to the introduction in the reissued book, Hawes was
created to be a hero when McBain's editor requested one
who, unlike Carella, was not married. Made into the
2007 Japanese film KAO
NO NAI ONNA: KURUSHIMA KEIJI NO HÔKOKUSHO YORI
Also a 1958
episode of Kraft Television Theatre and
episode of the TV series 87th Precinct.
||Hawes and Carella investigate the murder
by shotgun of a man who turns out to be a
blackmailer. In the introduction, McBain discloses
this is the second of a trilogy featuring Hawes, at the
behest of his editor. Perhaps for that reason, Hawes
is catnip to 3 women he casually meets and beds.
Adapted as the 7th
episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||1958||The wife of a man arrested by Carella, who subsequently has died in prison, comes into the squad room with a gun and a vial of nitro and holds Meyer, Kling, Hawes, Willis and Byrnes hostage, while she awaits Carella's return. Miscolo blunders in and is shot in the back. Eventually Brown and Teddy also show up at the station, while Carella is off investigating a suspicious suicide in a locked room. This is the first of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings: there is a physical wedge, which Carella finds to solve his locked room murder; and the metaphorical wedge the lady with the nitro drives into the squad room of the 87th. Made into the 2005 Japanese film ED MCBAIN: SATSUI and the 2nd episode of the TV series 87th Precinct.|
||1958||An anonymous note, composed from letters
cut from the NY TIMES, is handed in to the 87th Precinct
detectives, giving them 12 hours to try to identify a
potential killer and stop him. As mentioned in the
comment above on THE PUSHER, the essential clue involved
confusion over a name. Hawes once again is catnip to
at least 2 women, In the 1994
introduction to the reissued book, McBain reveals the book
was written in nine days, 20 pages a day, no rewrites,
calling it "a no-frills book ... driven by a single
plot. ... You jump right into it, you move right
along with it, you let it take you where it wants to
go. And because it was written fast, it seems to
move fast. The ticking twelve-hour clock in the
book seems to echo the urgency of the deadline"
McBain set for himself. Adapted as the 3rd
episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||1959||On the wedding day of Carella's sister,
the prospective groom contacts him, worried over a
threatening black widow spider done up as a wedding
gift. Carella asks off-duty fellow cops Kling and
Hawes to attend the wedding as bodyguards, while Meyer and
O'Brien seek out the possible threaten-er, who holds the
groom responsible for the death by sniper of an army
buddy. Hawes gets beat up by the threatener's
Amazonian girlfriend, and in the end Teddy gives birth to
twins. Adapted as the 12th
episode of the TV series 87th Precinct.
||1959||A child is kidnapped, but turns out to
be the son of the chauffeur of a ruthless shoe magnate,
and not the rich man's son. When the $500,000 ransom
is demanded even for the wrong child, the pressure is on
because to pay will jeopardize the stock coup the shoe
magnate has planned, which requires $750,000. Almost
all the 87th Precinct cops participate in the
investigation; including an initial appearance by the
boorish Andy Parker. Made into the 2007 Japanese
TO JIGOKU and the 1963 Japanese film HIGH
AND LOW as well as the 21st
of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||Give the Boys a Great Big
||1960||Genero finds a severed hand in a
complimentary airlines bag at a bus stop. Carella
and Hawes search for the identity of the victim, his body
and the killer. Adapted as the 17th
episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||1960||A series of nuisance threatening phone
calls occurs, which are reported to and coordinated by
Meyer. Meantime, Carella looks into the shotgun
death of a naked man found in the park. These and
much more are all the work of the Moriarty of the 87th,
the Deaf Man, in a complicated and dangerous plan to rob a
new bank and escape in a stolen ice cream truck.
Carella comes face to face with his nemesis and is
immediately shot and bludgeoned and winds up in a coma.
Adapted as the 13th
episode of the TV series 87th Precinct.
||See Them Die
||1960||This entire story takes place in the
Puerto Rican barrio of the 87th; a wanted criminal holes
up in a building and is besieged by the police force,
while a small teenage gang of 4 plot to murder an innocent
teen for an imagined slight. One of the 87th
regulars is shot and killed, and Carella masquerades as a
priest to lure the killer out of hiding and avoid more
PRECINCT was a TV series during the 1961-62 TV
season with Robert Lansing as Carella. 30 episodes
of 49 minutes each were produced by Hubbell Robinson
I had the opportunity in 2015 to watch 4 episodes, 3 based on McBain novels and one an original story.
Only the episode based on KILLER'S WEDGE was fairly faithful to the novel, being a single plot taking place mainly in the squad room.
In the one based on THE HECKLER, the plot was massaged to the extent that Kling (instead of Carella) got shot by the Deaf Man, and this supervillain (portrayed by the unblond Robert Vaughn) was nabbed at the conclusion by Meyer.
The plot of GIVE THE BOYS A GREAT BIG HAND was simplified and provided a happy ending for the philandering merchant seaman and his wife.
The original story, while a great showcase for a young Peter Falk, was an almost fantasy plot about an innocent man hypnotized into confessing to a robbery and double murder he had not committed.
Just in general, it seems the TV series did not succeed because it wasn't faithful to the books, in big ways and small; Meyer wasn't bald, Kling wasn't blond, Havilland wasn't dead, Carella wore a hat; there was no sign of Brown, Hawes or Willis. The direction was flat, suspenseless and without dramatic tension. The series did not live and breathe the way the books did.
||Lady, Lady, I Did It!
||1961||Carella and Kling investigate a shooting
at a book store. There are 4 victims; one is
Kling's social worker girlfriend Claire, who is
dead. Meyer investigates a woman who was one of
Claire's social services clients and gets beat up by the
woman's son and his hoodlum friends. This is another
plot where confusion about names is important to the
solving, which probably didn't translate into the 1991
Japanese film LONELY
||1962||A gas explosion rips through an
apartment, killing a Fuller Brush salesman. Inside,
the bodies of a man and woman are found, along with a
suicide note. But Sam Grossman of the police lab
tells Carella there are no fingerprints in the
apartment. Carella is attacked and beat up twice by
a man who holds him responsible for the jumping death of
his girlfriend, while Hawes solves the homicide of the
||The Empty Hours
||1962||Carella investigates the strangulation
murder of a woman who has recently opened a new checking
account and moved to a less desirable apartment. By
interrogating the payees of the canceled checks, he
uncovers a deception and solves the case. Adapted
as the 9th
episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
||Ten Plus One
||1963||Carella and Meyer look into a series of
sniper killings, and try to find the connection among a
bunch of disparate victims. Kling gets off on the
wrong foot with Cindy Forrest, daughter of one of the
victims, who casts a romantic eye at Carella.
Adapted as the 1971 French film SANS
MOBILE APPARENT with John-Louis Trintignant as
||1964||An 86-year old janitor is found dead
with an ax embedded in his skull in the cellar of the
building where he worked. Carella and Hawes
investigate and discover the trivial motive. [It is in this book that Evan Hunter
first intrudes into the 87th Precinct. Mention is
made by Hawes of Hunter's 1958 book STRANGERS
WHEN WE MEET and similarly, a fictitious film
called THE LOCUSTS, which bears a suspicious resemblance
BIRDS, which was scripted by Hunter for Hitchcock,
based on the Daphne DuMaurier story.]
||He Who Hesitates
||1965||The cops of the 87th are only background
figures in this story about a wood carver from a nearby
town who comes to Isola to sell his salad bowls and gets
into trouble with a girl and a refrigerator.
||1965||Kling is skating on thin ice, 4 years
after the death of his girlfriend, on his way to becoming
a bad cop. When Byrnes threatens to transfer him,
Carella asks to be partnered with him on an investigation
of a stabbing death of a fashion model. Kling's
aggressive interrogation of the model's agents makes
Carella send him to the office, and Kling gets in a fight
with Carella and stalks off. Carella goes to the
apartment of the murdered woman, picks up the Chatterbox
doll of the woman's daughter and, without a partner, goes
to arrest the murderer, but he's instead captured by the
man and his girlfriend, shackled to a radiator and
injected with heroin to make him disclose how he was able
to figure out the killer's identity. This is the
second of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple
meanings: doll as in a mannequin, meaning the murdered
woman, doll as in the Chatterbox doll which gives Carella
his clue, and doll, as in the false endearment the woman
calls Carella as she tries to coax him to reveal how he
tracked down the murderer.
I had forgotten that even in 1965, McBain's identity was still being hidden by his publishers:
||When I was a teenager, reading these
hardbacks from the Philadelphia library, there used to be
scrambled photos of the author on the back cover, to
disguise who it really was. Jigsaw type scrambling
of an actual photo of McBain, but mixed up in a way that
disguised his appearance. This is because his
publisher thought it would hurt sales of Evan Hunter
books, if it became known that he was also writing these
87th Precinct mysteries.
According to George N. Dove in THE BOYS FROM GROVER AVENUE (Bowling Green State University Popular Press 1985), Anthony Boucher spilled the beans in an introduction to a 1959 Simon and Schuster hardback in which the first three novels were collected, but I believe the jigsaw author photo continued at least until 1962. And later a fuzzy silhouette on the beach was used at least through 1965.
In fact, in an introduction to a 2000 short story collection RUNNING FROM LEGS AND OTHER STORIES (Five Star), McBain identifies two of the stories, THE INTERVIEW and THE SHARERS, as having been published in PLAYBOY in 1971 and 1972, respectively, attributed to Evan Hunter, because "no one but my agent, my wife, and my mother (maybe) knew who Ed McBain was back then." So it may be that McBain did not come out as Hunter until after 1972, but I can only verify the jigsaw photo was still being used in 1962.
By 1964, Hunter starts to intrude into the 87th Precinct books as part of the narration, dialogue or thoughts of characters in AX, LONG TIME NO SEE, LIGHTNING, EIGHT BLACK HORSES, TRICKS, LULLABY, WIDOWS, KISS, ROMANCE, NOCTURNE, BIG BAD CITY, THE LAST DANCE, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCH and HARK! From time to time in various of the novels, October 15th (McBain's birthday) is referred to as "birth date of great men" without any other explanation. There were intrusions similar to these in the Matthew Hope series as well.
||Eighty Million Eyes
||1966||Carella and Meyer look into the poisoning death of a TV comic who dies during a live national TV broadcast. Kling investigates a man menacing Cindy Forrest, from TEN PLUS ONE.|
ruling went into effect around this time, codifying the
Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,
requiring law enforcement officials to advise a suspect
interrogated in custody of his right to remain silent and
to obtain an attorney (notably absent in stories prior to
||The second appearance of the Deaf
Man. He makes crank calls to the 87th, threatening
the death of the park commissioner, which later
happens. Then he sends menacing letters to the 87th
from pasted up newsprint, threatening the death of the
assistant mayor, and that happens. Finally he
threatens the mayor and simultaneously sends out threats
to 100 rich people in the city. Meantime, Carella goes
undercover to catch some men who are setting the
homeless on fire; he winds up in the hospital twice, once
with burns, and once with a concussion. Kling is in
love with Cindy Forrest. Meantime, a flunky the Deaf
Man used to deliver one of his threats has had his phone
wiretapped, and the 87th Precinct cops discover he intends
to rob an elderly tailor. At the last minute, the
Deaf Man decides to randomly kill someone else with the
same initials as the mayor, and accidentally chooses the
same elderly tailor on the night Carella and Willis are
staked out there. Adapted and set in Boston into the
film with Burt Reynolds.
||Carella and Kling investigate the
shotgun murder of a married couple, while Meyer looks into
the stabbing death of a woman poet. Kling is
propositioned by the pretty mini-skirted
receptionist at the office of the dead man, and Cindy
discovers them arm in arm on their way to a lunchtime
interview. Carella gets knocked over the head again
when he revisits the first murder scene alone.
Genero is promoted to Detective 3rd grade for solving the
murders of the homeless people set on fire in FUZZ.
The wood carver from HE WHO HESITATES returns to the city,
gets drunk and winds up confessing to murder.
||After a double homicide in which
segments of a photograph are retrieved, the 87th Precinct
is approached by an insurance investigator and told the
pieces will combine into a photo of where $750,000 in loot
from a 6-year old bank robbery reside. Artie Brown
goes undercover to try to get the rest of the segments,
and two additional murders occur of people with
segments. In the end, after Brown gets beat up and
spends some time in the emergency room, the loot is
recovered and the murders solved. Adapted as a 1994
episode of COLUMBO retitled UNDERCOVER
||Hail, Hail, the Gang's All
atypical 87th Precinct novel in that it all takes place in
one 24-hour period, with one chapter for the day shift and
one for the evening. Carella and Hawes investigate a
murder; Kling delves into a store-front church bombing;
Meyer checks out a reputed haunted house where gems have
been stolen; Willis and Genero look into a naked hippie's
four-story death fall; Delgado takes an assault case in
the Puerto Rican barrio; and Kapek hunts a man and woman
mugging team. Meanwhile, Parker has been shot while
on stakeout at a grocery store that has been repeatedly
||Sadie When She Died
investigates the murder of the wife of a criminal lawyer;
a junkie has been in the apartment and fled with
silverware, leaving the woman with a knife in her
belly. Carella suspects the husband found her alive
and killed her with the knife. Cindy breaks up with
Kling and decides to marry a doctor, with whom she has
more in common. Kling starts to date a witness who
saw the junkie in the apartment building basement; he is
jumped by 3 men who beat him up and break his rib, warning
him away from this girl.
||Let's Hear It for the Deaf
||The third appearance of the Deaf Man,
who sends to Carella specifically photostats of J. Edgar
Hoover, George Washington, a Japanese Zero, Vilma Banky
and Martin Van Buren, in duplicate. Carella
meanwhile investigates a crucifixion death which may
involve bikers. Kling checks into a series of
burglaries in which there is no sign of forced entry and
the burglar always leaves a kitten. One of the
victims is fashion model Augusta Blair, whom Kling starts
to date. Carella is jumped on his way home from the
cinema with Teddy, coshed and his ID and gun stolen.
||Hail to the Chief
||1973||A gang war on 87th Precinct turf,
starting with the discovery of 6 naked bodies in a ditch,
one of them an infant, and terminating in a bloody battle
among 3 rival gangs. Kling asks Augusta to marry him
and she accepts.
||With Parker and Kling on vacation,
Carella and Hawes inherit a case of warehouse arson, which
soon escalates to arson of the victim's home. While
checking out the death of one of the warehouse security
guards, who apparently took $5,000 to drug the night
guards, they join forces with bigoted Fat Ollie Weeks over
another murder in Diamondback.
||Carella investigates the stabbing death
of a 17 year old girl and attack on her 15 year old
cousin, who saw the murderer, but first gives the police a
false description; the crime is eventually solved through
reading the diary of the murdered girl.
Adapted as a 1978 Chabrol film relocated to Montreal, LES
LIENS DE SANG with Donald Sutherland.
||So Long as You Both Shall
||Bert Kling's model bride Augusta is
kidnapped from their hotel suite following their wedding
reception. Fat Ollie Weeks horns into the
investigation and helps solve it in the nick of
time. Faithfully adapted into a 1992 COLUMBO episode
TIME TO DIE
||Long Time No See
||Three blind people are murdered, their
throats slit, for a motive that dates back to the Viet Nam
war. Carella investigates and get tempted by a
lovely army sergeant. Evan
Hunter intrudes more subtly, as Carella struggles to
interpret a dead soldier's nightmare and makes reference
to MARNIE and similar films.
in 1967, a meeting of the Federal Communications
Commission and the American Telephone and Telegraph
Company led to 911 being designated as the emergency
number. The number was chosen for its short,
easy-to-remember quality, along with the fact that it had
not already been reserved for area codes or other
uses. The emergency 911 console was patented in 1977
and made its first appearance in an 87th Precinct novel in
however, claims 1968 was the year 911 went national.
||Carella and Meyer investigate the
shooting death of a calypso singer, his manager, a young
prostitute and eventually solve a 7-year old kidnapping.
||Carella and Hawes investigate what
appear to be related murders of a woman stabbed once on
the street outside her apartment building, and a man
stabbed 19 times inside the building. The dead man
is the author of a nonfiction book about ghosts; his much
younger girlfriend, who is the spitting image of Teddy
Carella, claims to be a psychic. Eventually the
author's publisher is also stabbed to death. Carella
and his wife's look-alike head to Massachusetts to
investigate the haunted house mentioned in the book, where
Carella and she see 6 ghosts. A lowly patrolman
named Fujiwara nabs the killer when he tries to pawn some
of the jewels stolen from the author. Meyer is shot
in the thigh and knee while investigating a Christmas day
||By the 1960s, American
telephone numbers had migrated to the all-number
system. For the 35th 87th Precinct novel, HEAT, for
the first time, the number of the station changed from FR
7-8024 to 377-8024. Alan Sherman had an
amusing song, released in 1963, protesting this
ALL CALL UP AT&T AND PROTEST TO THE PRESIDENT MARCH.
||Carella and Kling investigate the apparent suicide of a chronically drunk graphic artist, whose wife finds the body in an overheated apartment upon her return from L.A. Meanwhile, Kling suspects his wife Augusta of cheating on him, and an ax murderer caught by Kling over a decade ago gets out of prison and decides to blow Kling's head off. This is the third of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings; the weather is always important in an 87th Precinct, is almost a separate character; this one takes place in a particularly hot summer; the M.E. is unable to pinpoint the time of death of the apparent suicide because the windows are closed and the air conditioning is off despite the 99 degree weather; heat is also slang for the police, and Kling is almost in a fever with the heat of his despair over his wife's betrayal.|
||Carella and Meyer inherit a homicide
case, the shooting of a dancer in a popular stage show,
because the same gun was used in their existing homicide
of a pusher. As they struggle to find a connection
between these victims, another murder with the same gun
takes place, this time of a jewelry salesman.
Meantime, Eileen Burke helps out as a decoy in a stakeout
at a laundromat; she and Bert Kling, who is rapidly losing
his grip after the betrayal by and divorce from his wife,
slowly reach out for each other. Teddy visits
Charlie Chen the tattooist again and gets a second
butterfly for Valentine's Day. This is the fourth of
the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings; again,
the weather is important, this takes place in icy
February; and ice is the slang word for diamonds, which
were sold by the dead jewelry salesman; in addition, ice
is the illegal profit made when house seats for a popular
show are sold to ticket agents for a large profit that is
not reported to the IRS or investors. Made into a
1993 TV movie ED
MCBAIN'S 87TH PRECINCT: ICE with Dale Midkiff.
|One of the corpses of a college
girl/runner in LIGHTNING is found hanging from a lamppost
in the 83rd Precinct, bringing Fat Ollie Weeks
into the investigation. Ollie takes the
opportunity to complain to Meyer and Carella about HILL
STREET BLUES, that it seems to rip off the "real"
cops of Isola, including a detective called Weeks and one
called Furillo, which seems too close to Carella.
In fact, creator Steven
Bochco has acknowledged the Ed McBain series
was an inspiration for HSB. This is the kind of
series, weaving the story of a squad of detectives and
their home lives, which McBain hoped the 1961-62 87TH
PRECINCT TV series would be, but was not, and he was not
a fan of either HSB or NYPD BLUE, so once again this was
McBain, the author, intruding into the dialogue of one
of his novels. In an August 20, 1991
interview in the British newspaper THE GUARDIAN,
McBain said he considered HSB "a blatant rip-off of the
87th Precinct. ... No, of course, they didn't consult
me. If you come in to steal my jewels, you don't
say, 'May I come in tonight through the window please?'"
||A series of young college women, who are
serious runners, are found with their necks broken,
hanging from light fixtures in deserted
neighborhoods. Carella and Genero find the first
body. Meantime, Eileen Burke is asked to act as
decoy again to catch a very peculiar serial rapist, who
repeatedly rapes the same women in an odd calendar
cycle. Burke and Kling have been lovers for 8
months, getting Kling past his post-divorce funk.
Teddy applies for secretarial work, but is first turned
down because she is deaf and mute, and then groped by a
potential employer. Meyer buys himself a toupee, but
eventually throws it away. This is the fifth of the
87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings; again,
lightning as a phenomenon of weather is featured during
Burke's struggle with a rapist, lightning is incorrectly
thought of as not striking twice, yet the rapist she tries
to trap makes a point of attacking the same women
repeatedly; and Lightning is the nickname of the killer
who stalks the college runners. Made into a 1995 TV
MCBAIN'S 87TH PRECINCT: LIGHTNING with Randy Quaid .
|And All Through the House
||This is a little 40-page hardback in a
slipcase written by McBain for his grandchildren.
Set on Christmas Eve, when the snow has prevented an
ambulance from reaching the squad room, an Hispanic woman
gives birth to a healthy baby boy while the 87th Precinct
cops and a few low level criminals stand by.
||In EIGHT BLACK HORSES, Xerox
machines appear for the first time in the 87th
Precinct clerical room, although they had been around
since 1959, according to Wikipedia. No longer do the
detectives have to use carbons to triplicate their D.D.
reports, but now can just stroll down the hall to Clerical
and make copies.
||Eight Black Horses
||The fourth appearance of the Deaf Man,
who once again sends Xeroxes specifically to Carella of
the titular horses, as well as police hats, badges, wanted
posters, walkie-talkies, handcuffs and other puzzling
items. Meantime, Carella and Brown
investigate the shooting death of a naked woman found in
the park. It culminates in the robbery of a major
department store that is foiled at the last minute, but
the Deaf Man still has a deadly surprise for the 87th
Precinct detectives. Kling continues his
relationship with Eileen Burke, who has lost her nerve
after being raped and slashed in the face on her last
undercover job; while Hawes is now in a relationship with
a Detective First Grade Annie Rawles, of the Rape Squad.
Evan Hunter intrudes again with
an idle thought by the Deaf Man that THE BIRDS was a
silly exercise in science fiction.
||Carella and Willis investigate a
possible suicide who has been poisoned by nicotine.
The last number called on the dead man's phone belongs
to a beautiful 25 year old ex-hooker. Willis falls
for her, moves in even though she is a suspect, and later
comes to regret his impulse. Two more of her men
friends are murdered, one by stabbing, another by
poison. There is quite a grueling flashback of what
happens to a woman in a Mexican prison caught with pot
that would certainly cause potential smugglers to have
||A rare 87th Precinct taking place in one 24-hour period, specifically Halloween. Hawes and Brown investigate the disappearance of a magician, whose dismembered body starts to show up all over town, the torso initially being discovered by Genero. Carella and Meyer stake out a liquor store they expect to be robbed by what appear to be 12 year old children in Halloween costumes. Genero shoots 4 teenagers who set off a fire in an abandoned building and threw a Molotov cocktail at him. Eileen Burke goes undercover to face her fears of being raped and cut again, and decides to quit the force. Two characters, who find the bottom torso of the dismembered dead man have an argument over STREETS OF GOLD, which is simultaneously a film they saw and an Evan Hunter book with the same title but a different story. This is the sixth of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings: tricks as in trick or treat for Halloween, tricks as in magic tricks, tricks as in prostitutes turning tricks, and tricks in the way McBain misleads readers, from the start when apparently wounded children with weapons stabbed into them turn out to be kids in Halloween costumes, to the final twist of the plot.|
||On New Year's Day in the middle of the night, someone stabs a 16-year old babysitter and smothers the infant she's minding. Meantime, Kling saves an Hispanic man who is being beaten with bats by 3 Jamaicans. Eileen Burke breaks off her relationship with Kling and starts to see a police shrink. Evan Hunter intrudes again in that THE BIRDS is being shown at a cinema in a MOMA-like Isola museum when Carella and Meyer conduct an interview there. Bigoted Fat Ollie Weeks spouts off to Carella about immigrants who change their names so nobody can tell they're foreigners, like "wops" who put an American name on books they write, which is McBain's sly wink at anyone who knew he was born Salvatore Albert Lombino. This is the seventh of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings: lullaby as in a song you sing to an infant; lullaby as in a song written by one of the characters to honor her father, lullaby as Jamaican street slang meaning to put to sleep an enemy forever.|
|| A Catholic priest is stabbed to death
in the garden outside his vestry in a crime-ridden Isola
neighborhood. Recently a black teen was attacked by
a mob of white teens and sought sanctuary in the same
church. Four blocks away Satan worshipers hold their
own bizarre rituals. Meantime, Willis' girlfriend
Marilyn Hollis is threatened by two hoods from Buenos
Aires who want her to return the $2 million she stole from
||Carella and Brown investigate the linked murders, first of a 22 year old woman, later of the middle aged married lawyer who was her lover, eventually the man's second wife and finally his first wife, all blondes. Meanwhile, Carella's father is killed during a robbery at his bakery in Riverhead. Eileen Burke, on the advice of her shrink, goes into training as a hostage negotiator and winds up dealing with the hostage situation involving the men who murdered Carella's father. Eileen breaks up with Kling Carella's sister gives birth to twins. Evan Hunter intrudes again when Eileen speculates on the film BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. This is the eighth of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings, but only barely, as Parker introduces the cops to a poker variation called Widows, in addition to the more obvious fact of Carella's father and the murdered lawyer leaving widows.|
||Carella and Meyer investigate the
attempted murder of a stock broker's wife, the suspect for
which later winds up shot and hanged in Diamondback.
Meantime, the murderer of Carella's father goes on
trial. Evan Hunter intrudes
again, mentioning an August 21, 1990 article in the
British newspaper THE GUARDIAN entitled OF WOPS AND
COPS, which was about Ed McBain, who felt aggrieved at
the newspaper's use of the word wops.
|Although Caller ID
has been around since 1968, according to Wikipedia,
it became more readily available in the late 1980s and
shows up for the first time in the 87th Precinct in the
||The fifth appearance of the Deaf Man,
who once again targets Carella with his nuisance calls,
notes and photocopies from a bad sci fi novel.
All kinds of criminal mischief are going on in the 87th
Precinct, including the apparent serial killing of
graffiti writers, and someone dumping elderly people with
Alzheimer's. Cotton Hawes sacrifices the enamel on
his teeth to go undercover in a men's shelter, where
blankets have gone missing which have turned up on the
abandoned elderly. Georgia Mowbry, of the hostage
squad, is shot in the eye and killed, sending Eileen Burke
back to the police shrink.
||Art imitates life when an actress in a soon to open minor play about an actress being stabbed is stabbed outside the theatre. This turns out to be a publicity stunt, but later the actress is murdered in her apartment, also with a knife. The action takes place one week after the race riot precipitated by the Deaf Man in the previous novel. Kling begins to date Sharyn Cooke, a police medical surgeon, who not only outranks him but also is black. Teddy gets a summons for a car accident caused by a black woman infuriated because Teddy doesn't speak. Evan Hunter intrudes again when the omniscient narrator of the novel reveals that the actor playing the detective in the play was also in the films FUZZ, WITHOUT APPARENT MOTIVE, BLOOD RELATIVES and HIGH AND LOW, all adaptations of 87th Precinct novels. This is the ninth of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings; there is the budding romance of Kling and the police surgeon, the title of the play is ROMANCE and also of the play within the play.|
||NOCTURNE marks the first appearance of automated
phone systems in the 87th Precinct novels. A
character tries to report noise pollution and becomes so
frustrated by the bureaucratic run-around and waits
involved that he solves it himself by shooting a cab
driver. Wiki says this system became common in the
US in the early 1980s.
||An elderly Russian former concert
pianist is shot to death; the gun was apparently stolen
from the glove compartment of a Caddy owned by a body
guard, possibly from a garage where it was left for 2 days
to have the engine replaced. While at the garage,
apparently chickens were inside the car, causing the
garage personnel (and later the forensic technician and
the owner of a fighting cock) to mention THE BIRDS, allowing another wink from
Evan Hunter. Three drunk
preppies head to Diamondback, hook up with a black dope
dealer and wind up killing a white prostitute, the dope
seller and the hooker's pimp.
||The Big Bad City
||Brown and Carella investigate the
strangling death of a young nurse who was also a nun,
while Kling and Meyer try to find a burglar who leaves
chocolate chip cookies in the apartments of his
victims. Meantime, the man who killed Carella's
father decides he better kill Carella as well, in case
Carella decides to wreak vengeance after the jury decided
he was not guilty. Teddy's misdemeanor
charge (from ROMANCE) is dismissed. Matthew Hope, from McBain's other
series of novels set in Florida, shows up briefly
when Carella calls to check on a death by alligator 4
years previously. Carella's sister is now dating the
prosecuting attorney who failed to get a conviction for
the murderer of Carella's father.
||The Last Dance
||Carella and Meyer investigate the
hanging death of a man who has been drugged with Rohypnol,
a drug apparently new to Carella but known to Meyer.
The dead man's daughter's alibi for the time of the
murder was seeing the film HIGH
AND LOW (wink, wink, a Japanese adaptation of an
87th Precinct novel). Danny the
Gimp is shot to death before Carella's eyes before he can
reveal the name of the murderer. Acting
on a tip, the detectives break in on the apartment of one
of Danny's killers, and Willis gets shot in the leg.
Ultimately three murders can be traced to the rights for
the revival of an obscure 1920s play. Fat Ollie
questions a piano teacher and asks her to teach him 5
||Police use of cell phones makes its first appearance in MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. According to Wikipedia, from 1983 to 2014, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from zero to over 7 billion, penetrating 100% of the global population.|
||Money, Money, Money
intrudes again when one of the crooks, who comes from
Fall River, MA, has a passing thought about Lizzie
Borden, a real person who may or may not have killed her
parents with an ax, which Hunter wrote about in the
This crook winds up being eaten by lions at the Grover
Park zoo, where Fat Ollie saves Carella by shooting a lion
about to attack him, the zoo having straddled the 87th and
88th precincts. Virtually undetectable counterfeit
$100 bills printed in Iran are used to purchase cocaine in
Mexico, which winds up in Isola. The Mexicans come
to town to replace the funny money and bodies start piling
up. Fat Ollie saves Carella a second time when he's
about to be plugged by one of the drug enforcers.
Carella's sister and mother tell him they intend to
remarry, which greatly upsets him. Terrorists set
off a bomb in a concert hall, killing several people on
stage and in the crowd. Fat Ollie
starts to write a detective novel.
||Fat Ollie's Book
||While on his way to a photocopy shop
with the only copy of his novel, REPORT
TO THE COMMISSIONER, 36 pages written in the form of
a DD report, Ollie Weeks is summoned to a crime scene
where a city councilman has been shot while setting up at
an auditorium to give a speech. When Ollie returns
to his car, the window has been broken and the dispatch
case with the manuscript inside has been stolen.
Ollie asks Carella to help in the murder investigation,
because the councilman lived in the 87th Precinct.
An Hispanic transvestite hooker has the manuscript,
which he believes is true and can lead him to a stash of
diamonds. Eileen Burke transfers to the
87th and works on a drug bust with Andy Parker.
Ollie starts to date Hispanic police officer Patricia
||The Frumious Bandersnatch
||A budding pop singer with a lyric based
on the Lewis Carroll JABBERWOCKY
poem is kidnapped from a promotional party on a
yacht. Carella and Hawes catch the case and are
eventually forced to deal with the FBI. Meantime,
Fat Ollie continues to date Patricia Gomez, softening his
infamous bigotry. Evan
Hunter intrudes again when two FBI agents discuss
hearing "some mystery writer" on C-Span giving a talk in
a book store in Seattle, who once got a letter
complaining there were too many people in his books.
|The internet, around since the '60s and
in use by academics since the 1980s, is now pervasive in
the "commercialization incorporated its services and
technologies into virtually every aspect of modern human
life" according to Wikipedia,
but did not show up in the 87th Precinct novels until
HARK! in 2004 when Carella brings a fat book of
Shakespeare verses home and his 13-year old son Mark shows
him an easier way to Google the quotes the Deaf Man has
been sending him. According to Wiki, Google
was originally developed by Larry Page and Sergey
Brin in 1997. The Deaf Man's accomplice, whom he
once again underestimates, checks his internet browsing
history to find out what his caper is really about.
||2004||The sixth and final appearance of the Deaf Man, recovered from his double chest wounds at the end of MISCHIEF, he tracks down his attacker, repaying the debt, and sends anagrams, palindromes and Shakespeare quotes to Carella at the 87th. Meantime, Cotton Hawes, who has been dating TV reporter Honey Blair, is shot in the foot by a sniper upon leaving her building. Eileen Burke and Willis start a relationship. Kling becomes suspicious of Sharyn Cooke and starts to tail her. Fat Ollie locates the transvestite who stole his book; he gets him to recite the text, which takes only a little more than an hour, into a tape recorder. Carella gives away his mother and sister at a joint wedding. Evan Hunter intrudes again when the 87th Precinct detectives, trying to decipher the Deaf Man's notes, again mention THE BIRDS, with the usual inside joke that it was not written by Hitchcock.|
||The final 87th Precinct novel, that's all he wrote, sadly. Like 21 previous titles, it is a single terse word. The detectives investigate a series of murders with the same Glock weapon: a blind violinist, a cosmetics sales rep, a university professor, an elderly priest and an elderly widow. Along the way, they manage two drug busts as well. Ollie meets Patricia's parents and plays SPANISH EYES on the piano for them; he goes on a diet. Carella finds out his 13 year old daughter April has smoked pot and reaches rapprochement with his new stepfather. Kling and Sharyn Cooke break up; Hawes starts to date a witness. This is the tenth and final of the 87th Precinct titles to have multiple meanings: Fiddler, as in a violin player, the first victim; fiddler, as someone who is wasting time on a case, as Captain Frick accuses the detectives in this high visibility case; fiddler also is slang for someone who interferes with a young person sexually; and fiddler as in interfering in someone's life and changing it for the worse.|
From Wikipedia: Isola is a section of a fictional city that is the setting for the 87th Precinct series of police procedural novels written by Ed McBain. The city is based on New York City, and similarly, has five sections, corresponding with the five boroughs of New York: Isola (Manhattan), Bethtown (Staten Island), Calm's Point (Brooklyn), Majesta (Queens), and Riverhead (Bronx). It has two major rivers, the Harb and the Dix, which inexplicably flow in a westerly direction despite the fact that Isola is on the East Coast.