cover image Nocturne


Ed McBain. Grand Central Publishing, $30 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51805-5

87th Precinct stalwarts Carella and Hawes, appearing in the 48th entry in this still vibrant series, catch the case of Svetlana Dyalovich Helder, an elderly Russian woman shot to death at her modest apartment. In her youth an acclaimed pianist who played the great concert halls of America and Europe, Svetlana, at the time of her death, lived on welfare, drank too much and listened to old 78 rpm recordings of her glory days. The murder motive looks like burglary until Carella and Hawes learn that Svetlana had withdrawn $125,000 from her bank hours earlier. A neighbor reports having seen a tall blond man at Svetlana's door shortly before the murder. After the shooting, a blond man delivered a package to the hotel where Svetlana's granddaughter, Priscilla, stayed. Meantime, over in the 88th, ""Fat Ollie"" Weeks investigates the deaths of a pimp and a drug dealer. That leads to a sexually mutilated hooker, also killed the night before, and a bookie who remembers a tall, blond bettor looking for a gun. As the cases converge, McBain serves up his usual mix of urban insights, terrible jokes, sex, violence and dialogue that crackles from every page. Followers of this 40-year-old series will be satisfied, as always, and new fans will be captured by this latest example of McBain's enduring virtuosity. (May)