Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The Con Man: Ed McBain
This was the fourth book that I have read by Ed McBain; they have all been in the 87th Precinct series. I plan to read all of them in order. That may be ambitious because I have quite a few left and all of them are not as short and sweet as these first four.
This novel concentrates on one kind of criminal: the con man. There are two cases, and the book explores the different levels that a con can be played at. In one case, the end result is murder, and the game is much more serious.
A unique element of the 87th Precinct series is that they include documents from the investigations, which contributes to the feeling that you are getting the real picture of an investigation. The policemen are very believable characters, with flaws and varying personalities.
I also like the ethnic mix of characters, which makes sense in the setting of these books, where Isola stands in for New York. Steve Carella, in the spotlight in this book, is Italian. Arthur Brown is black. There is a Chinese tattoo artist who also figures prominently.
This book kept me entertained and engaged throughout. In my reviews of previous books in this series, I had noted some lovely descriptive passages. That type of writing seemed to be absent in this book. Not a detriment, necessarily; this one focused more on the policemen's experiences. Steve Carella was seriously wounded in the previous book and is still suffering pain and working through it. Bert Kling, the newest detective on the squad, is trying to find some way to take a trip with his fiance.
The only negative aspect for me was that I did not care for Steve Carella's wife being so involved in this story, to the point of getting herself in danger. The storyline was plausible and it did fit her character, so I don't know why it bothered me.
See other reviews at Tipping My Fedora, The Violent World of Parker (also reviews Killer's Choice), and Joe Barone's Blog.
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, 2011 (orig. pub. 1957)
Length: 204 pages
Format: Trade paperback
Series: 87th Precinct, #4
Setting: Isola, fictional city loosely based on New York City
Genre: Police procedural
Source: I purchased my copy.