cover image Lullaby


Ed McBain. William Morrow & Company, $17.95 (350pp) ISBN 978-0-87795-994-6

Of all McBain's 60 or so bestsellers, the chillers about the 87th Precinct have been the most popular. This is the 40th, bringing detectives Carella and Meyer to a swank apartment on New Year's Eve. Returning from a party, a couple find their adopted baby and her teenaged sitter murdered. There are so many ramifications, including the later death of the biological mother, that the case seems hopelessly muddled. But Carella and Meyer, outraged by the crime, stick to the wearying routine and finally bring the guilty to book. While readers are absorbed in this horrendous story, they simultaneously fear for Bert Kling, as he investigates competing drug traffickersJamaican, Chinese, blackwho are killing each other and bent on killing him. The lamentably convincing portraits of today's metropolis also create empathy for endangered detective Eileen Burke, tempted to resign despite her commitment to police work and her lover, Kling, as a matter of self-preservation. MWA Grand Master McBain's staccato dialogue and authentic characters, as always, make the new series entry a page turner. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Jan.)