cover image The Glady the Cross-Eyed Bear

The Glady the Cross-Eyed Bear

Ed McBain. Grand Central Publishing, $30 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51989-2

Hero/narrator Matthew Hope, recovered from gunshots and a coma (There Was a Little Girl, 1994) and, true to his earlier resolve, practicing only civil law in (fictional) Calusa, Fla., represents the plaintiff in a suit involving the eponymous teddy bear, named after a mis-heard line in a hymn (""Gladly the cross I'd bear""). Young toy designer Lainie Commins is suing her ex-boss, toy manufacturer Brett Toland, for copyright and patent infringement, contending that his cross-eyed bear is a direct steal from hers. When Brett is found shot to death on his yacht, Lainie is arrested and charged with murder. She persuades Hope to represent her even as, we later learn, she commits the first legal sin, lying to her lawyer. From mansions to shacks and yacht club to sleazy venues for lingerie ""models,"" McBain gives us a tour of Gulf Coast Florida that's seldom grand. Unable to reach his usual investigators (the main subplot has PI Warren Chambers urging his colleague Toots Kiley to kick her crack cocaine habit cold turkey), Hope hires 60-something Guthrie Lamb, an old-style PI with major male chauvinist traits. McBain, as he has for more than 40 years, keeps his readers riveted through this entire, satisfying tale. (Sept.)