I had been online looking for something to read and I found that the last 87th Precinct novel (Fiddlers) was available for bloggers/reviewers to request. The book was actually published 9 years ago so I was surprised to see it offered for review, however, as a long-standing fan of Ed McBain and the boys of the 87th Precinct I had to submit a request.
Sadly it was not to be – my request for a review copy was declined. As it was one of the few books in the series I had still to read I was a tad disappointed. Still it whetted the appetite for a return to the fictional world of Isola. Turn to my Kindle and there I find a plethora of 87th Precinct stories all waiting to be read.
Over the course of a 5 year period in my late teens/early twenties I think I managed to pick up about 90% of Ed McBain’s books. Almost all the books I owned were second hand copies as I could never quite bring myself to pay £5 or £6 for a book I would read in one night. This remains true today, I am rebuilding my McBain collection on my Kindle but will only buy the books when they go into the sale (fortunately this seems to be quite a regular occurrence).
With over a dozen titles downloaded to my Kindle it was just a matter of selecting one I fancied. The Heckler won the day. One reason it beat off the other challengers was because I could not remember how the story panned out, but more importantly it was because it featured The Deaf Man – arch nemesis to Steve Carella and the other 87th Precinct cops.
The Deaf Man was a master criminal and a recurring character in McBain’s books – there are over 50 novels of the 87th Precinct and I seemed to recall the Deaf Man popping up quite often. However, a quick check of Wikipedia suggests he only actually features in 6 books (with name-checks in others). Clearly I built up the memory more than the reality!
No matter, The Heckler brought me everything I wanted. The squad-room dynamic was there, characters I had long forgotten were welcomed back into my imagination and the actual story was good fun with lots of Sherlock Holmes references thrown in for good measure.
My reading pile grows ever larger but there will always be time to step back and squeeze in one of Ed McBain’s books. The Heckler is 54 years old and it shows its age in places, however, at heart it remains a good story told by one of the masters of his craft.