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The Last Dance Paperback – June 24, 2016
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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 Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The 50th novel of the 87th Precinct is one of the best, a melancholy, acerbic paean to lifeAand deathAin the fictional big city of Isola. The story begins with death: detectives Meyer Meyer and Steve Carella are questioning Cynthia Keating, whose father lies lifeless in a nearby bed. Cynthia claims she hasn't touched Andrew Hale since she discovered his body, but the cops suspect she's lying: for one thing, the corpse's feet are blue from postmortem lividity, a sign of death by hanging. The detectives' doubts turn darker when, after Cynthia admits she found her father hanged and, in shock, laid him down, the M.E. rules that Hale was murdered. Carella asks stoolie Danny Gimp to listen to the drums on the street for any hints of the killer. Danny calls back for a meet but is gunned down before Carella's eyes by two shooters, who escape. Much shoe leather hits the pavement before the cops find a possible motive: Hale left Cynthia the rights to a play now in preproduction as a major musical. If it's a hit, she and three other heirs stand to gain a fortuneAand Hale, the cops further learn, had refused to okay the production while alive. The dicks thus take their investigation into the bustling worlds of theater and high society, which McBain observes tartly. Further deaths ensue, further suspects arise, including a Jamaican hit man who sheds the blood of one of McBain's heroes. The closing of the case comes a tad easily to the cops and to the narrative, but overall this is McBain in classic form, displaying the writing wisdom gained over more than 40 years of 87th Precinct novels (the first appeared in 1956) to deliver a cop story that's as strong and soulful as the urban heart of America he celebrates so well. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Like the mysteries that Bosch tackles working for the LAPD, the murder that confronts the detectives of the 87th precinct in this novel seems impossible to solve, but the storytelling style is completely different. Whereas Harry Bosch prefers to work his cases like a lone wolf hunting its prey, the 87th precinct cops seem to revel in sharing their case with their colleagues. In this novel the threads of the mystery come together through the investigative efforts of a number of different detectives, not all of them from the 87th precinct. It's much more of a collaborative effort than the typical Harry Bosch mystery.
The story moves forward mainly through the dialogue of the characters. It's almost like reading a play, and it works very well because McBain has a very good ear for how people of different backgrounds talk. Their verbal exchanges are always very entertaining.
The mystery is a good one, with multiple suspects, and the background is informative. I liked being able to learn a little about how a Broadway play comes together. I didn't seem to have any trouble with dipping into this long-running series at such a late point.
It seemed to me that the dialogue was awful. Ping pong ping pong with short q & a, and many echoes and repetitions. The plot seemed to be fairly vague too (3 plot lines on 3 murders), and the characters weren't developed very well either (it seemed to me).
In general I do like McBain's books (I have about 25 of them). But this one is easily the worst one so far. Not recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
all good. This one seemed a little slow. Still good just not one of the better ones.