Friday, March 4, 2016

NOCTURNE Is Another Excellent Entry in the 87th Precinct Series

This entry in the 87th Precinct series takes place during a week in which the main characters of the series are working the graveyard shift. Just as they come on duty at 11:45 p.m., detectives Steve Carella and Cotton Hawes catch the murder of an elderly woman who has been shot to death along with her cat. A bedroom window is open and it appears at first glance that the woman was shot by a burglar who surprised her when she returned home from the liquor store.

The detectives quickly discover that in her younger years the victim was a world-renowned concert pianist. But in her old age, she had become extremely arthritic, could no longer play, and was reduced to listening to recordings of her glory days. She was living in poverty, apparently scraping by with just enough to afford fresh fish for her beloved cat every day.

Meanwhile in another part of town three prep school football players are loose in the Big City, looking for action. They find it with a twenty-year-old prostitute and a crack dealer who cross their path in the wee hours of the morning. Nothing good can come of this, and nothing will. This case falls to detective Fat Ollie Weeks, who will investigate the crimes involved as only he can.

The investigations proceed through the next several days and nights. The parallel stories are intricately plotted with lots of twists and turns, and this winds up being one of the better books in the series. At one point, Carella and Hawes wind up investigating a clue that involves a Cadillac that contains a number of bird feathers and more than a little bird poop. This leads to a running joke about Alfred Hitchcock's famous film, "The Birds," in which none of the characters can remember who wrote the screenplay for the movie. The inside joke is, of course, that the screenwriter was Ed McBain, writing under his real name, Evan Hunter. All in all, a very good read.

No comments:

Post a Comment