When a sniper begins gunning down cops from the 87th Precinct in cold blood, it’s up to Detective Steve Carella to sort out who and why―before he finds himself on the wrong end of the killer’s .45.
“McBain has the ability to make every character believable―which few writers these days can do.” ― Associated Press
“McBain forces us to think twice about every character we meet...even those we thought we already knew.” ―New York Times Book Review
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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 50th 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.
Visit www.edmcbain.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From the river bounding the city on the north, you saw only the magnificent skyline. You stared up at it in something like awe, and sometimes you caught your breath because the view was one of majestic splendor. The clear silhouettes of the buildings slashed at the sky, devouring the blue; flat planes and long planes, rough rectangles and needle sharp spires, minarets and peaks, pattern upon pattern laid in geometric unity against the wash of blue and white which was the sky.
And at night, coming down the River Highway, you were caught in a dazzling galaxy of brilliant suns, a web of lights strung out from the river and then south to capture the city in a brilliant display of electrical wizardry. The highway lights glistened close and glistened farther as they skirted the city and reflected in the dark waters of the river. The windows of the buildings climbed in brilliant rectangular luminosity, climbed to the stars and joined the wash of red and green and yellow and orange neon which tinted the sky. The traffic lights blinked their gaudy eyes and along The Stem, the incandescent display tangled in a riot of color and eye-aching splash.
The city lay like a sparkling nest of rare gems, shimmering in layer upon layer of pulsating intensity.
The buildings were a stage set.
They faced the river, and they glowed with man-made brilliance, and you stared up at them in awe, and you caught your breath.
Behind the buildings, behind the lights, were the streets.
There was garbage in the streets.
The alarm sounded at eleven P.M.
He reached out for it, groping in the darkness, finding the lever and pressing it against the back of the clock. The buzzing stopped. The room was very silent. Beside him, he could hear May's even breathing. The windows were wide open, but the room was hot and damp, and he thought again about the air conditioning unit he'd wanted to buy since the summer began. Reluctantly, he sat up and rubbed hamlike fists into his eyes.
He was a big man, his head topped with straight blond hair that was unruly now. His eyes were normally grey, but they were virtually colorless in the darkness of the room, puffed with sleep. He stood up and stretched. He slept only in pajama pants, and when he raised his arms over his head, the pants slipped down over the flatness of his hard belly. He let out a grunt, pulled up the pants, and then glanced at May again.
The sheet was wadded at the foot of the bed, a soggy lifeless mass. May lay curled into a sprawling C, her gown twisted up over her thigh. He went to the bed and put his hand on her thigh for an instant. She murmured and rolled over. He grinned in the darkness and then went into the bathroom to shave.
He had timed every step of the operation, and so he knew just how long it took to shave, just how long it took to dress, just how long it took to gulp a quick cup of coffee. He took off his wristwatch before he began shaving, leaving it on the washbasin where he could glance at it occasionally. At eleven-ten, he began dressing. He put on an Aloha shirt his brother had sent him from Hawaii. He put on a pair of tan gabardine slacks, and a light poplin windbreaker. He put a handkerchief in his left hip pocket, and then scooped his wallet and change off the dresser.
He opened the top drawer of the dresser and took the .38 from where it lay next to May's jewelry box. His thumb passed over the hard leather of the holster, and then he shoved the holster and gun into his right hip pocket, beneath the poplin jacket. He lit a cigarette, went into the kitchen to put up the coffee water, and then went to check on the kids.
Mickey was asleep, his thumb in his mouth as usual. He passed his hand over the boy's head. Christ, he was sweating like a pig. He'd have to talk to May about the air conditioning again. It wasn't fair to the kids, cooped up like this in a sweat box. He walked to Cathy's bed and went through the same ritual. She wasn't as perspired as her brother. Well, she was a girl, girls didn't sweat as much. He heard the kettle in the kitchen whistling loudly. He glanced at his watch, and then grinned.
He went into the kitchen, spooned two teaspoonfuls of instant coffee into a large cup, and then poured the boiling water over the powder. He drank the coffee black, without sugar. He felt himself coming awake at last, and he vowed for the hundredth time that he wouldn't try to catch any sleep before this tour, it was plain stupid. He should sleep when he got home, hell, what did he average this way? A couple of hours? And then it was time to go in. No, it was foolish. He'd have to talk to May about it. He gulped the coffee down, and then went into his bedroom again.
He liked to look at her asleep. He always felt a little sneaky and a little horny when he took advantage of her that way. Sleep was a kind of private thing, and it wasn't right to pry when somebody was completely unaware. But, God, she was beautiful when she was asleep, so what the hell, it wasn't fair. He watched her for several moments, the dark hair spread out over the pillow, the rich sweep of her hip and thigh, the femaleness of the raised gown and the exposed white flesh. He went to the side of the bed, and brushed the hair back from her temple. He kissed her very gently, but she stirred and said, "Mike?"
"Go back to sleep, honey."
"Are you leaving?" she murmured hoarsely.
"Be careful, Mike."
"I will." He grinned. "And you be good."
"Uhm," she said, and then she rolled over into the pillow. He sneaked a last look at her from the doorway, and then went through the living room and out of the house. He glanced at his watch. It was eleven-thirty. Right on schedule, and damn if it wasn't a lot cooler in the street.
At eleven forty-one, when Mike Reardon was three blocks away from his place of business, two bullets entered the back of his skull and ripped away half his face when they left his body. He felt only impact and sudden unbearable pain, and then vaguely heard the shots, and then everything inside him went dark, and he crumpled to the pavement.
He was dead before he struck the ground.
He had been a citizen of the city, and now his blood poured from his broken face and spread around him in a sticky red smear.
Another citizen found him at eleven fifty-six, and went to call the police. There was very little difference between the citizen who rushed down the street to a phone booth, and the citizen named Mike Reardon who lay crumpled and lifeless against the concrete.
Mike Reardon was a cop.
Copyright © 1956 by Ed McBain
Copyright renewed © 1984 by Evan Hunter
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Descrizione libro PENGUIN BOOKS LTD, 1970. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 140019685