has to be the strangest title of any of the fifty-four novels in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series. For that matter, it has to be one of the strangest titles in all of crime fiction. It comes from a poem by Lewis Carroll and refers to a monster of some sort that is never clearly defined. The book was published in 2004, and McBain may have also been influenced by a psychedelic rock band from the 1960s of the same name.
In this case, "Bandersnatch" is the title of the debut record by an up-and-coming Hispanic diva named Tamar Valpariso. A man named Barney Loomis owns the company that is releasing the record, and he has very high hopes for it. To that end, he's made a very dark and sexy music video in which Valpariso sings the title song while being assaulted by an evil monster--the Bandersnatch. At the end of the video, Valpariso manages to triumph over the monster and everyone seems to have his or her own opinion about the message that the video actually conveys, but there's no doubt about the fact that it's an attention-getter.
To celebrate the launch of the record, Loomis has rented a luxury yacht and invited a lot of news people and other guests to a huge party cruising along the River Dix. The highlight of the party comes when Tamr Valpariso and a male dancer dressed as the Bandersnatch recreate the sensuous video. Things are going swimmingly until two masked men descend down the stairs to the dance floor. Armed with automatic weapons, they kidnap the young singer and carry her away in a waiting launch.
As fate would have it, the kidnapping occurs in waters that are the province of the 87th Precinct and the case falls to Steve Carella and Cotton Hawes. Inevitably, the party guests are in various stages of inebriation and tell conflicting stories. The kidnappers seem to be very professional and leave no fingerprints or other evidence that will be of immediate assistance.
Ultimately, there will be a ransom demand; the F.B.I. will come barging in and a huge circus will result. In the meantime, Fat Ollie Weeks of the neighboring 88th Precinct is pursuing a new romance and is still attempting to recover the only copy of his novel, which was stolen in the previous book in the series. All in all, its a very entertaining story with lots of action and humorous insights into the record business. It's sure to appeal to fans of the series and to a large audience of crime fiction fans.