Friday, May 4, 2012

Cop Hater: Ed McBain

I put off reading this book for years and I don't know why. And now I have put off finishing my review. It is hard to separate my reaction to this book from the preconceptions I had going in, especially knowing that it is such a long running series and has been loved and loyally followed by many.

From the author bio on Amazon:
Perhaps his most popular work, the 87th Precinct series (released mainly under the name Ed McBain) is one of the longest running crime series ever published, debuting in 1956 with Cop Hater and featuring over fifty novels. The series is set in a fictional locale called Isola and features a wide cast of detectives including the prevalent Detective Steve Carella.
I did not know what to expect going into this book. I anticipated liking the series, enough to have already purchased 11 additional titles. But I was not sure if it was my kind of series. I like police procedurals in general, but would I like it enough to continue the series?

The first chapter pulled me into the book immediately. A good sign. Although parts of the book were heavy on descriptive sequences, I did find the story compelling and I liked the portrayal of the policemen. They were not perfect, but generally they seemed believable.

The paperback edition I read has a very good introduction by the author in which he discusses the genesis of the series. From that introduction:
But then, thinking it through further, it seemed to me that a single cop did not a series make, and it further seemed to me that something new in the annals of police procedurals (I don't even know if they were called that back then) would be a squad room full of cops, each with different traits, who when put together would form a conglomerate hero.
I think my affinity for police procedural over other types of mysteries is based on the same premise that McBain discusses in his introduction to the book.
In fiction, there is always a quantum jump to be made when anyone but a police detective is investigating a murder.
That does not mean I don't like and enjoy other types of mysteries, I just have to spend more time suspending disbelief when I move into other types.

The end result is... Yes, I did like the book, a lot. I assume the series improves as it goes along. I have the next two in the series, The Mugger and The Pusher, and I will be reading those soon.

This counts as one of my books for the following challenges:
Mt. TBR Challenge
Read Your Own Books Challenge
New Author Challenge
1st in a Series Challenge
Vintage Mystery Challenge
Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge

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