The fiftieth novel in the 87th Precinct series, Ed McBain returns to Isola, where detectives Meyer Meyer and Steve Carella investigate a murder which leads them to the seedy strip clubs and bright lights of the theater district.
In this city, you can get anything done for a price. If you want someone's eyeglasses smashed, it’ll cost you a subway token. You want his fingernails pulled out? His legs broken? You want him more seriously injured? You want him hurt so he’s an invalid his whole life? You want him skinned, you want him burned, you want him—don’t even mention it in a whisper—killed? It can be done. Let me talk to someone. It can be done.
The hanging death of a nondescript old man in a shabby little apartment in a meager section of the 87th Precinct was nothing much in this city, especially to detectives Carella and Meyer. But everyone has a story, and this old man’s story stood to make some people a lot of money. His story takes Carella, Meyer, Brown, and Weeks on a search through Isola’s seedy strip clubs and to the bright lights of the theater district. There they discover an upcoming musical with ties to a mysterious drug and a killer who stays until the last dance.
The Last Dance is Ed McBain's fiftieth novel of the 87th Precinct and certainly one of his best. The series began in 1956 with Cop Hater and proves him to be the man who has been called “so good he should be arrested.”
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Penzler Pick, January 2000: When it comes to the novels of big-city cop life revolving around a single station house's daily dramas, Ed McBain wrote the book--50 of them, in fact. And whatever one thinks of the virtues of NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, or even Law and Order, there's the undeniable truth that McBain was there first, with his wonderfully reimagined New York. (Fans know that Isola is the stand-in for the borough of Manhattan, Riverhead for the Bronx, Majesta for Queens, Calm's Point for Brooklyn, and Bethtown for Staten Island.)
Here, as one hopes and expects, a body turns up within the opening pages. And also, as is often the case, Detective Steve Carella is there to spar with the medical examiner.
But there are other bodies and other police personnel in a story that takes the typical McBain route--no short cuts--that amounts to a crook's tour of the city he loves. With a cast of characters that ranges from socialites to hookers, The Last Dance takes in theater world chicanery, police brutality, and a pizza-joint massacre.
Ed McBain, also known as Evan Hunter, is the only American ever to have won the British Crimewriters Association's Diamond Dagger; he is a grand master of the Mystery Writers of America; his books have sold over a hundred million copies around the world; and he wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, the Matthew Hope series of mystery novels with fairy tale and nursery rhyme titles (Rumpelstiltskin, Goldilocks, etc.), as well as the classic The Blackboard Jungle.
Celebrating the publication of the 50th novel in a series that stays amazingly fresh and incredibly readable is no small thing. This much-loved and seminal writer is a national treasure. If you're a mystery reader, you've undoubtedly read Ed McBain. If you haven't read one for a while, try this one. It's so good it will immediately send you scurrying back for the ones you missed. --Otto PenzlerAbout the Author:
Ed McBain, a recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's coveted Grand Master Award, was also the first American to receive the Diamond Dagger, the British Crime Writers Association's highest award. His books have sold more than one hundred million copies, ranging from the more than fifty titles in the 87th Precinct series (including the Edgar Award–nominated Money, Money, Money) to the bestselling novels written under his own name, Evan Hunter—including The Blackboard Jungle (now in a fiftieth anniversary edition from Pocket Books) and Criminal Conversation. Fiddlers, his final 87th Precinct novel, was recently published in hardcover. Writing as both Ed McBain and Evan Hunter, he broke new ground with Candyland, a novel in two parts. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. He died in 2005.
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