this is the 192nd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Killer’s Wedge by Ed McBain, © 1959, my copy Signet Books 1974 mass market paperback, mystery novel, 87th Precinct
In this eighth in his series featuring the repertory cast of characters which comprise the fictional 87th Precinct, Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) gives the reader an extremely unusual situation.
Virginia Dodge, wife of convicted thief and shooter Frank Dodge, who has recently died in prison, walks into the 87th Precinct, up the stairs, pushes her way into the squad room, sits down at an empty desk, pulls out a .38 and tells the cops present to hand over their weapons or be shot. Oh, and she pulls out a bottle of clear liquid which, she informs them, is nitroglycerin. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but do they dare risk finding out?
She’s there, she tells them, to kill Steve Carella. She has her reasons, or thinks she does, and she’s determined. But Carella is out investigating a suicide, or probably a suicide, and no one knows when he’ll return. No problem, she says, “I’ll wait. We’ll all wait.”
So begins the book, and there are tense hours as the afternoon moves slowly along. But surely a room full of cops can figure out a way to outsmart this one obviously crazy woman, can’t they?
I’ve only read three 87th Precinct books, and, though I find the premise here pretty unbelievable, this was the best of them. I may try another one someday, maybe, but these just didn’t strike a chord with me.
Sorry you don’t like the 87th Precinct books: I’ve eagerly devoured most of them, and am planning at some point in the not-too-distant future to make a systematic effort to fill in the gaps. Each to their own, I guess.
I’m surprised you should class any of the series as “forgotten”! According to Amazon (not wholly reliable, but . . .), there have been 51 editions of Killer’s Wedge, including audio- and e-books, and at a guess it hasn’t been out of print since its first publication. You can buy a used copy of that first (1959) edition at Amazon for $989 . . . which is something I don’t right now plan to do. 🙂
John, this was a single author FFB day per Patti Abbott (see her blog Pattinaise for the other reviews) so most of us picked one of his books.
Ah! I didn’t realize. I just saw the banner “this is the 192nd in my series of forgotten or seldom read books” and was startled.
Thanks for the link. There are quite a few decidedly unforgotten books there, as you say, in among the McBain/Hunter obscurities. He also wrote a few SF novels but, to judge by the one I read, their obscurity is pretty well deserved.
I gobbled them up when I started reading mysteries in earnest and muchly enjoyed most of them, although the thicker books that came later on didn’t do as much for me.
I’m a big fan of the books but this is a very unusual one in its very deliberate contrasting of two such different traditions within the mystery genre. McBain wrote some really terrific books in this series and would certainly recommend such different books as COP HATER (from the 50s), HE WHO HESITATES (the 60s), SADIE WHEN SHE DIED, BLOOD RELATIVES (bopth from the 70s), POISON (from the 80s).
The 87th Precinct books vary in theme and style, Richard. I’m sure there will be some that appeal to you. In the meantime you could try one of the many other non-87th Precint books Hunter wrote under so many names.
I still remember the television adaptation of this one. I didn’t see that many of the 1961-62 series episodes but did see this one, starring Constance Ford.
Like Cap’n Bob, I binged on McBain in the 1970s reading dozens of his books. And, like the good Cap’n I was less enthralled by the much longer volumes in the series.
I expected a lot of “What? You didn’t love McBain?” and there has been mercifully little of that, so thank you. I have COP HATER, EIGHT BLACK HORSES and at least two more of his books here, that I got from PaperbackSwap. So all is not yet lost. Thanks for the ideas and suggestions, everyone!
COP HATER and EIGHT BLACK HORSES are excellent places to see McBain in very good form.
I was so unenthralled by the first 87th novel I read (or tried to read) so long ago I don’t remember what it was. I tried again last week for Patti’s FFB tribute to McBain, and, lo, I enjoyed them both–Last Best Hope and Widows. Finally I’m hooked.
I’ve had one nagging question, however, wondering what the “wedge” hairdos are that all of McB’s women characters seem to have. Seeing your title reminded me of this conundrum, and I just now used Google to clue me in. Ah, so that‘s a wedge!
…and once again books lead us to new knowledge!