Monday, February 11, 2013


One of the great blessings of reading Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels in the order McBain wrote them, is that you get to watch these people’s lives unfold. 

The Mugger is the second book in the series. A friend asks police patrolman Bert Kling to visit with his troubled sister-in-law. Kling does that. When someone kills that young woman, the police think Clifford the mugger committed the crime. This time, Clifford went to far. Cling thinks otherwise. He feels obligated try to solve the murder.

Kling gets in trouble. Patrolmen don’t encroach on detectives’ territories.  Also, Kling meets and falls in love with a more ordinary-looking friend of the beautiful murdered woman.

All these main characters are in their twenties and thirties now. By the end of series, more than fifty books later, they will be older, and their lives will have changed.

That was exactly as McBain planned it. He wanted to write an ensemble series, a series which reflects what actually happens in cop houses like the 87th precinct. McBain claims to be one of the first to have done that. (I don’t know if that’s true, but in any case, I love the books.)

Again, the early books are shorter, very conversation-driven. I like Ed McBain. I may not live long enough to read all the 87th precinct books again, but I sure plan to try.

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