Ed McBain's

87th Precinct

87th Precinct TV Cast

posted by Judy Harris

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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 him. 

McBain continues:  I had most enjoyed writing the police stories--which were frankly influenced by the old DRAGNET 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."

Click here for a January 2000 NYTimes interview with Ed McBain.

Cop Hater
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 
The Mugger
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.
The Pusher
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 the 1st episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
Killer's Choice
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 the 23rd episode of the TV series 87th Precinct.
Killer's Payoff
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.
Killer's Wedge
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.
Lady Killer
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.
'Till Death
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.
King's Ransom
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 film TENGOKU TO JIGOKU  and the 1963 Japanese film HIGH AND LOW as well as the 21st episode of the 87th Precinct TV series.
Give the Boys a Great Big Hand
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.
The Heckler
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 bloodshed.

87th Precinct DVD
87TH 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 Productions. 

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 HEART/KÔFUKU
Like Love
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 gassed couple.
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 Carella. 
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 to THE 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.

McBain Jigsaw Author Pix

I had forgotten that even in 1965, McBain's identity was still being hidden by his publishers:
Doll Back Cover
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.

The Miranda-Escobedo 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 FUZZ).
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 1972 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 Here
An 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 held up.
Sadie When She Died
Carella 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 Man
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.
Blood Relatives
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 Live
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 entitled NO 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.

According to SYNONYM, 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 CALYPSO.  Wikipedia, 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 burglary. 

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 change:  LET'S 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 investigationOllie 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 movie ED 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 second thoughts.
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 LombinoThis 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 her pimp.
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 novel MISCHIEF.
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.

early 1980s
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 songs.

Police use of cell phones makes its first appearance in MONEY, MONEY, MONEYAccording 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
Evan Hunter 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 novel LIZZIE.  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 Gomez.
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 Search  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.

I started reading 87th Precinct novels in 1960 when I was 13 and was allowed to check out books from the adult section of the Philadelphia library.  The first book I read was GIVE THE BOYS A GREAT BIG HAND.  At that time, the detectives were all in their 30s (except Kling, who was 24), and somehow, mysteriously, I got older and they did not.

By 1999, when I was 52, Carella was just turning 40.  In 1959, Carella’s twins were born, and by 2005, they were only 13, instead of 46 and Carella still was not 41.  I understand why McBain did this; if the cops had aged in real time, they would be using wheelchairs and walkers, but somehow I still can’t fathom how I got old and they never did.

When Ed McBain died on July 6, 2005, his obit was relegated to the inside pages of newspapers because of the terrorist bombings in the London underground.  But I grieved for him and for me, because I knew that there would be no more 87th Precinct novels.  54 was not enough for me.  49 years was not enough; I was greedy for more.

These novels were interwoven with my life.  In 1972, I moved to New York, template for Isola, and I spotted all the disguised references:  Cow Pasture in Isola was Sheep Meadow in Central Park.  Top of the Hill in Isola was Top of the Rock at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  Stemmler Avenue, the Stem, was Broadway in Manhattan, the Great White Way.  And the weather, the God damned weather that was hot enough to drive you crazy or cold enough to freeze your ass off was recognizably New York weather.

I felt a part of the lives of these detectives; I knew all their slang:  flash the tin, FMU (first man up), shield instead of badge, large instead of thousand.  I appreciated all the expressions in Yiddish or Spanish.  These detectives were closer and realer to me than many people in my placid life.  I felt McBain was writing directly to me, all those little inside jokes about his other existence as Evan Hunter, they were put there for insiders like me.  I loved all the graphics embedded in the text:  the D.D. reports with their typos, the newspaper clippings, the Xeroxes sent by the Deaf Man.

And how the world changed over the course of those 54 novels.  The starting salary for a patrolman at the time of COP HATER was $3,725.  By the time of the New Millennium 87th Precinct novels, Eileen Burke, Detective/Third was making nearly 56 large ($55,936).  Typewriters never were replaced by computers, but carbon paper was replaced by photocopying.  Air conditioning eventually was introduced but somehow always seemed
not to be working in the cop cars or the squad room.

I want to believe these detectives are still out there somewhere, rotating their shifts, drinking Miscolo's horrible coffee, complaining about Fat Ollie, supporting each other, telling terrible jokes, solving crimes, protecting the city.

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.

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