cover image Vespers


Ed McBain. William Morrow & Company, $18.95 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-87795-987-8

The latest in the 87th Precinct series, this bizarre and gripping novel shows why MWA Grand Master McBain is acclaimed for his stories about police at work in a big city. Detectives Carella and Hawes are investigating the murder of Fr. Birney at St. Catherine's, a church near the headquarters of satanists, which makes them obvious suspects. But Carella and Hawes, hearing different stories from all the people concerned, recognize the enormous task of separating the truth from lies. There are hints that the pastor was being blackmailed; that the black boy he saved from a beating by a gang of white teens, as well as his attackers, are guarding guilty secrets; that a parishioner who quarreled with Birney could be the killer. As usual, the author's uncannily accurate eye and ear make the many characters identifible as real people. Not as usual, however, the solution to this case and related crimes reverberates with the shocks of totally unexpected disclosures. Major ad/promo; Mystery Guild and Literary Guild selections. (Jan.)