Friday, June 19, 2009
Yesterday I was reading Ed McBain's novella Merely Hate when I put this note on Erica Orloff's blog--
"My favorite police procedural author, bar none, is Ed McBain. You always get what you pay for with Ed McBain. Some of his books are better than others, but over all these years, there's only one book I didn't think gave me my money's worth.
"They say Ed McBain wrote up to the last day of his life. He was a great writer because of his combination of inspiration and discipline."
This novella is exactly the kind of McBain book I admire so much.
In the book Carella and the rest of the crew solve a hate crime using police procedure. There are no clues involved. Just police work. They talk to people and talk to them again. They look at the physical evidence, the bullets and all the rest. There are no tricks to solving the crime. Just hard work.
That's the way it is with every Ed McBain 87th precinct novel I've read.
For me, this one was poignant. I read it knowing that McBain died in 2005, the copyright date on this collection of novellas.
That being the case, I was taken with this novella's ending. After having solved the hate crime, Carella and Meyer get in their cars to drive home. McBain writes--
"They got into their separate cars and drove toward the open gate in the cyclone fence, one car behind the other. Carella honked 'Shave-and-a-hair-cut,' and Meyer honked back, 'Two-bits!' As Carella made his turn, he waved so long. Meyer tooted the horn again.
"Both men were smiling."
Ed McBain's whole career left me smiling.