Wednesday, August 16, 2023

87th Precinct #07 - Killer's Wedge

Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels are the perfect remedy for a summer reading slump. The earlier installments of the series stand alone quite nicely, and these urban police procedurals are always short and exciting. I randomly chose 1959’s Killer’s Wedge, the seventh installment, for this excursion.

A crazy bitch walks into the 87th Precinct looking for Detective Steve Carrella. The fellows tell her that Carrella is away, but she can wait on the bench in the hall for him. The lady wants to wait in the detective bullpen, which is a no-go for the guys. When they ask her to leave, she pulls a gun on them, and we have a hostage situation. Man, this is an awesome opening scene.

We quickly learn that the lady wants to kill Carrella. She can explain her reasons when you read the book. She has a container of liquid that may or may not be nitroglycerin, so disarming her is not as easy as it seems. McBain’s takes a different tactic with this aspect of his story, which otherwise would have been filled with nervous tension. Instead, the detectives are mostly annoyed and worried that this nutty chick is going to accidentally kill them all.

There is also a decent B-Story involving a locked room mystery that may or may not have been a suicide. Carrella is investigating this on the streets while his squad mates are being held hostage by the murderous lady awaiting Carrella‘s return to the 87th. This is another plot made entirely possible by the lack of cell phones.

The events culminate in a fantastic action sequence to end the thin paperback. This may have been the shortest of the 87th Precinct novels. A version of it appeared in February 1959’s Manhunt Magazine, and the book lives on to this day as a reprint, e-book, and audiobook. It’s probably not the best 87th Precinct series selection, but it’s not a bad place to enter if you are looking for a short taste of this wonderful McBain universe. Recommended. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

1 comment:

  1. This was the first 87th Precinct I ever read. If I had heard the synopsis I probably would have skipped it as a long drawn out hostage scenario seems like it would probably drag but like you said, it's actually kind of fun. I also liked the Holmes-ish side mystery