Friday, February 15, 2013


Ed McBain’s The Pusher is the third novel in the 87th precinct series.

A young Puerto Rican addict commits suicide. The 87th’s investigation ends up involving Lt. Peter Byrnes’ family. Three more people are brutally killed. Someone attacks one of the 87th’s own. And, as always, the love lives and family problems of the cops take front and center.

This time, it is Christmas. The story ends on Christmas.

This book made me more aware of what it is I like about Ed McBain. He tells powerful stories in a matter-of-fact style. McBain writes like a newspaper reporter. But his stories are starkly real.

I became addicted to McBain because his books were more than plot. They were people. The people grew and changed. Some of them turned bad. Some of them suffered terribly. And some of them died.

I brought this e-book from Google books. The book had an afterword in which McBain talks about how he submitted the manuscript and both his editor and his agent called. They insisted that he change the ending.

In that regard, this book is a pivot in the series. The books would have taken a totally different direction, had McBain decided to end this episode in the original way. I doubt they would have gone on as long.

What happens to the cops in this book makes them seem more real. Cops have families who break the law. And ethical cops finally act ethically, even as they look out for one another.  

I had forgotten how compelling I find these books to be.

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