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Fat Ollie's Book: A Novel of the 87th Precinct Hardcover – January 1, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The disreputable, bigoted, dirty-mouthed but oddly likable Ollie Weeks, a walk-on in Ed McBain's popular 87th Precinct series, gets a book of his own here: not just the mystery of who killed a popular mayoral candidate a few days before the election, but the one Ollie, improbably, is writing. Pity the schmuck who lifts Ollie's only copy of his manuscript from his car--not only is its author in desperate need of what he's sure will be his ticket to fame and fortune, but the befuddled miscreant somehow believes that the caper recounted in Ollie's book is a real one, and that he's in possession of a blueprint for the crime that will allow him to cash in on it. This is a fast, funny read from the master--like a valentine to his fans while they wait for his next big one. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Even when MWA Grand Master McBain (aka Evan Hunter) isn't in top form, he is very good and such is the case with this 87th Precinct novel, which really belongs to Det. Oliver Wendell Weeks of the 88th Precinct. Fat Ollie, of the gross appetite and the even grosser ignorance of political correctness, played a surprisingly heroic role in the last 87th Precinct novel, Money, Money, Money (2001). Now he claims star billing and repayment of a debt owed by Det. Steve Carella. Two major crimes occur at almost the same time: the shooting of Councilman (and possible mayoral candidate) Lester Henderson as he is getting ready for a rally and the theft of the just completed manuscript of Ollie's first novel, Report to the Commissioner. Ollie enlists Carella's help (Henderson lived in the 87th) and pursues both the murderer and the thief. McBain's broad humor is much in evidence as he pokes fun at detective novels and their readership through excerpts from Fat Ollie's ponderous book. On the other hand, Ollie's outrageous bigotry, like that of TV's Archie Bunker, never seems to hurt or offend anyone and palls over an entire novel. Still, McBain creates wonderfully strange characters, like the transvestite hooker who latches on to Ollie's book, and crimes that are somehow ingenious, stupid and utterly convincing.CWA's highest award, the Diamond Dagger.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (December 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743202701
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ed McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 - 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and Psychology. After a short stint teaching in a high school, McBain went to work for a literary agency in New York, working with authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and P.G. Wodehouse all the while working on his own writing on nights and weekends. He had his first breakthrough in 1954 with the novel The Blackboard Jungle, which was published under his newly legal name Evan Hunter and based on his time teaching in the Bronx.

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.

McBain was also known as a screenwriter. Most famously he adapted a short story from Daphne Du Maurier into the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). In addition to writing for the silver screen, he wrote for many television series, including Columbo and the NBC series 87th Precinct (1961-1962), based on his popular novels.

McBain was awarded the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986 by the Mystery Writers of America and was the first American to receive the Cartier Diamond Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He passed away in 2005 in his home in Connecticut after a battle with larynx cancer.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ed McBain likes the titles of his 87th Precinct series to bear more than one meaning, and "Fat Ollie's Book" is no exception. Fat Ollie Weeks, detective of the neighboring 88th Precinct, stands at the center of this novel, having caught the call on the murder of an aspiring politician. Fat Ollie, not an incompetent detective but quite willing to let others carry the load if circumstances warrant, shifts the burden of the investigation to Steve Carella and Bert Kling while he pursues a case far more important to himself - the theft of the sole existing copy of the manuscript of, well, Fat Ollie's book, a detective thriller written by him to cash in on the lucrative fiction market dominated by a bunch of women amateurs who wholly lack his real world expertise and insights. The book took him months to write, too, at least three or four months, all thirty-six pages of it, and he wants it back, no matter the effort required or whose toes must be stomped on.
Fat Ollie, it should be said, is a racist, but that is an inadequate description. He is also an ethnic, religious, and sexist bigot. He despises, in short, everyone not exactly like himself. Come to think of it, he also despises anybody who IS like himself. Oblivious to the insults he showers upon others and sensitive to slights from others, he nonetheless is not absolutely without a touch of oafish charm, just enough to intrigue a Puerto Rican uniformed female cop caught up in the murder case and just enough to keep the reader interested in such an otherwise unsympathetic protagonist.
As usual in the 87th Precinct novels, the plot twists around itself, sweeping up a collection of odd characters marching unknowingly to inevitable interaction and intermeshed fates.
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Format: Hardcover
In his fifty-second 87th Precinct novel, Ed McBain features the loathsome and obese sexist bigot, Fat Ollie, who has finally finished his own police procedural, "Report to the Commissioner." Oliver Weeks sees himself as a literary lion in the making. The protagonist of his rather brief novel is Ollie's female and slim alter ego, whom he names Olivia Wesley Watts. Unfortunately, Fat Ollie never got around to making a copy of his manuscript, which he composed on an old fashioned typewriter. When Ollie leaves the novel in a dispatch case in his car, a junkie steals the case and its precious contents.
"Fat Ollie's Book" has many of McBain's trademark touches. It is politically incorrect and filled with flippant dialogue. The author seamlessly threads three main plot lines throughout the book and they cleverly overlap at times. A prominent councilman who may be planning to run for mayor is shot while preparing for a rally. A pair of cops is hoping to interrupt a big drug sale. And, of course, Ollie is determined to find the perp who ripped off his precious book.
McBain's 87th precinct novels are always entertaining, and "Fat Ollie's Book" gets high marks for its large and colorful cast of characters, its fast moving story and its self-mockery. McBain quotes large sections of Ollie's book, and through Ollie, McBain makes fun of the conventions of the police procedural. McBain's fictional city of Isola is a homage to New York City, with its high-octane excitement, its political pressure and the desperation and chutzpah of its criminal element.
Ed McBain has won every award that is available to a mystery writer. "Fat Ollie's Book" makes it clear why McBain has remained successful for so many years, while lesser talents have fallen by the wayside. This novel, like so many others in this series, is witty, smart and irreverent, and I recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Every time I read an Ed McBain novel (and I've probably read half of the more than 50 he's written, each a gem), I wonder why it's not sitting atop a best-seller list (arbitrary as those lists may be). Mystery-lovers of the world, take notice! McBain (aka Evan Hunter) is a brilliant writer, the kind who dreams up ingenious plots and then populates them with an array of diverse characters, filled with spunk and armed with witty banter, who will make you laugh out loud and might - just might - even cause you to shed a tear or two.
In this latest winner, Detective Oliver Wendell "Fat Ollie" Weeks of the 88th Precinct has written his first novel - a police procedural. Unfortunately, just as he's taking his precious tome (all 36 - yes, 36 - pages of it) to be photocopied (somehow Fat Ollie hasn't seen fit to purchase a computer), he gets called to a murder investigation, and wouldn't you know it, someone filches the sure-to-be-a-best-seller (!) from the back of his squad car while he's off fighting crime.
Can Fat Ollie find time to recover the manuscript while solving the murder of a political up-and-comer? Heck, should he even be concentrating on the murder when the fruit of his labor has disappeared? Truth and fiction are tightly intertwined as Fat Ollie teams up with the boys from the nearby 87th Precinct (familiar to and well-loved by McBain fans everywhere) to figure it all out.
McBain's sense of humor is beyond priceless, if that's possible, and this story is a grand piece of entertainment. I enjoyed every page. Don't miss it.
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