Thursday, March 7, 2013

This is the book in which Ed McBain adds Cotton Hawes to the cast of detectives who populate the 87th Precinct. As Hawes comes on board, a young woman named Annie Boone is shot and killed while working as a clerk in a liquor store. The store is then totally trashed and the owner seems more concerned about the damage to his stock than the death of his employee.

Annie, a divorced mother of a young daughter, seems to be something of a chameleon. Virtually everyone that the detectives interview has a radically different impression of the woman, and without knowing exactly who she was, it's going to be awfully difficult to catch her killer. Then, as the investigation progresses, Roger Havilland, one of the detectives, is also murdered. This increases the pressure to find the killer or killers and Steve Carella, Meyer Meyer, Bert Kling and Hawes, the new addition to the team must follow a very slim trail of evidence in their effort to find a solution to the crimes.

This is a quick, fun read, one of the better of the earlier books in the series. It's fun to watch the interaction with Hawes, the new guy, especially as he makes a nearly catastrophic mistake early on in the investigation. Any fan of the 87th Precinct will want to find this one.

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