Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Ed McBain knows how to keep a story going.

In Killer’s Wedge a deranged woman takes the 87th precinct squad hostage. She invades the squad room and holds several (including the Lieutenant) at bay. Then she waits for Steve Carella to return so she can kill him.

Carella is off solving a locked room mystery. A wealthy man committed suicide in a locked windowless room.

Carella is looking forward to the coming evening. He and Teddy plan to go to dinner. They are celebrating her news. She is going to have their first child.

Meanwhile the hostage taker shoots one cop and pistol-whips another.

Every attempt by the squad to notify someone what is happening seems to fail.

The woman holds suspects brought into the squad room hostage too. She finally ends up holding Teddy hostage when Teddy comes to the squad room to meet Steve so they can go to dinner.

There is so much irony in life. Terrible things involving Steve Carella happen without his knowing they are happening. Fate and a deranged woman are about to rise up against him. And that happens on one of his most happy days.

So, how does it all work out? By the time Steve returns, things appear back to normal. At first glance, nothing seems to be wrong in the squad.

From there, I think I’ll leave the rest for the reader to find out.

Again, I so love to read Ed McBain. For one thing, his early books are short. This one is 175 quick reading pages. I always liked those kinds of books. I was sad when paperback books became so expensive that publishers thought they had to produce longer, weightier tomes.

So after reading a very long book (The Cuckoo’s Calling), I dropped back to an early Ed McBain. He continues to be my favorite author.



So the door had been locked.

So it’s suicide.

Or maybe it isn’t.

What do we do now? Send a wire off to John Dickson Carr?


Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I liked this one a lot too - a clever mixtures of style and I thought the locked room solution was pretty good at that. One could argue, I suppose, that it might have made for a stronger book if the grievance against Carella had a smidgen more substance but this is not a book going for moral ambiguity!

Joe Barone said...

Sergio, I read one of the forwards McBain wrote to the first few early e-books. He wrote those just before he died. He said he saw what he was doing as a forerunner to things like Law and Order, CSI, etc. After I read that, it occurred to me that one reason I probably like Ed McBain so much is that the good ones are like watching a fast-paced TV show. I found this one to be especially that way.