cover image Learning to Kill

Learning to Kill

Ed McBain, . . Harcourt/Penzler, $25 (478pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101222-0

The 25 crime stories the late MWA Grand Master (1926–2005) wrote between 1952 and 1957 and selected for this thematically arranged collection display in embryo the style and techniques that he would later hone into perhaps the finest police procedural series of all time: the 87th Precinct. Born Salvatore Lombino, McBain (Fiddlers ) changed his name legally to Evan Hunter, one of three names these early stories were published under in magazines like Manhunt and Argosy . McBain's entertaining general introduction points to the wide range of his subject matter: "Here were the kids in trouble and the women in jeopardy, here were the private eyes and the gangs. Here were the loose cannons and the innocent bystanders. And here, too, were the cops and robbers." Equally illuminating are his introductions to individual tales like "See Him Die," which, greatly expanded, became the 13th book in the 87th Precinct series. This is an essential volume for McBain fans, an inspiration for aspiring authors and a treasure for both. (July)