Saturday, August 24, 2013

'TIL DEATH by Ed McBain

Ed McBain's 'Til Death (1959) is a landmark book in the history of Steve and Teddy Carella.

Carella and his pregnant wife Teddy prepare to attend Carella's sister's wedding. The groom calls. He has received an unusual death threat, a Black Widow spider in a gift box.

Carella enlists detectives from the 87th Precinct to help. Some attend the wedding. Others work the case, tediously going from place to place on the trail of the killer.

The groom can think of only one person who might hate him enough to try to kill him on his wedding day. He had a Korean war buddy who turned against him. His buddy thought the groom had caused the ambush death (in battle) of an another Army friend.

As it turns out, the story involves three crazy people. Someone kills one wedding guest. The murderer clubs Cotton Hawes, trusses him up, and plans to kill him after he has killed the groom.

And the whole story ends with a life-changing surprise.

So many people have written about the brilliance of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books. For me, they were standard reading at least as early as the early1960s.

I liked the clear straightforward writing, the way they told us about the detectives' family lives, and the way the story drove straight through.

Even though I am on my second time around for most of these books, I still don't tire of the 87th Precinct.

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