Thursday, April 14, 2016

An Awful Lot of Money Is Causing Headaches for the Detectives of the 87th Precinct

In one of those odd twists of fate, this book was first published on September 6, 2001, and one of the threads in the book involves a terrorist plot against a target in Isola, which is the author's thinly veiled stand-in for New York City. Five days later, McBain was out touring in support of the book and in the wake of the terrorists' attacks of that day, he was forced to abandon the tour, rent a car and drive back home to NYC.

The book opens with a former combat pilot who flew missions in the Gulf War named Cassandra Jean Ridley. Cassandra is now making a series of secret flights back and forth across the Mexican border, serving as a courier between drug buyers and sellers. It's a very lucrative endeavor, and after completing her last mission, Cassandra moves east to the Big City, with a profit of $210,000.

The book really gets rolling when a burglar breaks into Cassandra's apartment and steals a couple of her newly-purchased fur coats along with $8500 that she was keeping in a shoe box. Cassandra calls the cops and reports the theft of the coats, but she then discovers that the burglar has accidentally left what amounts to a calling card behind. She tracks the guy down herself and recovers her coats and most of her money at gunpoint, but not before the burglar has spent one of her hundred dollar bills in a bar. In fairly short order, the Secret Service also shows up at the burglar's door, suggesting that the hundred dollar bill he spent might have been counterfeit.

Not long after, bodies are dropping left and right and detectives Steve Carella and Meyer Meyer are attempting to sort things out. Then to further complicate matters, someone wanders naked into the zoo and gets eaten by a pack of lions. One of the lions is inconsiderate enough to drag one of the victim's legs across the imaginary line that divides the 87th Precinct from the 88th, and that, in turn, much to Carella's consternation, allows detective Fat Ollie Weeks from the 88th to horn in on the investigation. 

McBain has created an especially good cast of characters for this novel and some of the action takes place in a publishing firm. Fat Ollie, who is now taking piano lessons, decides that in addition to being a world-class pianist, he could also be a best-selling author. McBain has a great deal of fun with the idea, and indeed, the next book in the series is Fat Ollie's Book. And, in the middle of it all, there's the above-mentioned attack that terrorists are planning against the city.

All in all, it's another very good addition to the series and a book that will appeal, not only to fans of the series, but also to lots of readers who have not yet discovered the 87th Precinct.

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