Killer’s Choice is one of the more average offerings in Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series.
Someone murders a young woman liquor store clerk. Then later, in a separate incident, someone kills a cop by pushing him through a plate glass window. The shards of glass sever his aorta. He bleeds to death.
This story introduces Cotton Hawes. A rookie cop when it comes to investigating homicides, Hawes makes an almost-fatal mistake. Then he redeems himself.
One strong insight in the book is the idea that when detectives investigate a planned murder, they have to decide which victim was killed. We are many people. We are one thing to one person and another thing to another.
If a detective figures out which of those people is killed, he is closer to finding the murderer.
As with the other books in these reprintings, this book has a Foreword in which McBain tells what led him to write it as he did.
At this stage of the series, his publishers had a large say in what was going to come next. They had hopes of creating a blockbuster (for that time) series equivalent to what Erle Stanley Gardner had done.
I found this to be the weakest of the first five books. But I wasn’t disappointed. I have the advantage of having read a lot of the great 87th Precinct books yet to come.
As always, McBain writes in his documentary style. The book is a quick read, and enjoyable.