cover image The Big Bad City

The Big Bad City

Ed McBain. Simon & Schuster, $25 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-684-85512-7

McBain has been writing his 87th Precinct stories since 1956, but Isola's cops and crooks remain as fresh as rain. In the 49th book in the series, detectives Steve Carella and Artie Brown are searching for the killer of a nun. An autopsy reveals that the strangled woman had breast implants and an unconventional background, moving between her pious, charitable order and a freewheeling secular life. Other oddities are plaguing the 87th, too. The hood who recently murdered Carella's father is walking around loose because an inept prosecutor blew the case. Now the thug is stalking Carella, and Carella's sister wants to marry the prosecutor. Meanwhile, detectives Meyer Meyer and Bert King are tracking the Cookie Boy, a burglar who leaves a little box of home-baked chocolate chip cookies at his victims' homes. His crimes escalate to felony murder when he interrupts a tryst and things go very bad, very quickly. As always, McBain invests the many story lines with off-the-wall humor (nun jokes abound), a startlingly real cast of suspects and witnesses and a terrifically entertaining mix of cop dialogue, gritty city atmosphere and action. McBain is so good, he ought to be arrested. (Jan.)