Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review of Cop Hater by Ed McBain (Penguin, 1956)

Detective Mike Reardon is shot in the back of the head while walking to work at the 87th Precinct in New York. Cops abhor a cop killer and all the focus is trained on tracking down a murderer with .45 automatic. Then a second cop is slain. Detectives Steve Carella and Hank Bush are determined to stop the cop hater, as is a local newspaper reporter who has his own ideas as to who is perpetrating the crimes. What seems certain is more cops are going to die unless they catch a lucky break.

Cop Hater was the first book in the 87th Precinct series that stretched to 55 entries. This book introduces Steve Carella, who is the lead character of the series, though different detectives take the lead in each entry. Carella and his partner, Hank Bush, are trying to track down the killer of a fellow detective. Then the first cop’s partner is shot. It seems like someone is taking revenge. McBain tells the story in a no-nonsense narrative, following the detectives as they try to determine who the killer is. The tale is quite sparse and short in comparison to contemporary novels, but is no worse for it in many respects. The twist in the tale is nicely done. However, some of the detective work seems a little haphazard, the plot device used to set up the denouement is a bit clunky, and the wrap up is brief. Nonetheless, it’s entertaining read. Overall, a tightly plotted and told police procedural.


Dana King said...

Disclaimer: I've been in the tank for McBain for years.

What amazes me about McBain is how he continued to improve as the series went along. Fifty-five books and they never got stale, the cops' stories never seemed to be recycled, and the writing continued to improve. He was a true master.

Rob Kitchin said...

Good to know. I have a box full of the series, so I'll no doubt be reading more.

Gerard Saylor said...

I wonder what happens to Hank Bush? I don't recall him from any of the the 87th novels I have read.

Rob Kitchin said...

Difficult to answer the question without spoilers! And even writing that is probably one.