Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Detectives of the 87th Precinct

The late Ed McBain is best remembered for his novels of the 87th Precinct, which ultimately stretched to fifty-four books. Additionally, McBain wrote an 87th Precinct short story called "And All Through the House: Christmas Eve At the 87th Precinct," which was first published in Playboy in December, 1984. Ten years later, Warner books reprinted the story in a small hardback edition with illustrations. Several sources list it as the 46th book in the series based on its publication in book form, although strictly speaking, based on its initial publication, it would be the 38th, followingLightning. (Is this pedantic enough? Could I possibly be more compulsive about these things?)

It's a cute little story that one can read in about twenty minutes, even when distracted by the antics of his or her kitten. It opens with Steve Carella sitting alone in an otherwise empty squad room a little before midnight on Christmas Eve. Gradually, the other main detectives drift in, each of them with suspects in tow, and various clever things happen in the aftermath.

This really isn't a "crime" story in the conventional sense; there's no mystery involved and only a tiny amount of violence. It isn't really a novel, either, and one wonders why Goodreads and the Ed McBain website would list it among the books of the 87th Precinct. Only a dedicated 87th Precinct completist would want to take the time to search it out, read and review it, but what can I say? I guess I must be that guy...

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