cover image McBain's Ladies

McBain's Ladies

Ed McBain. Mysterious Press, $30 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-284-6

This book is not one of McBain's superior police procedurals but a jumble of excerpts from his bestsellers about the 87th Precinct. Lifted out of context, these chapters describe both the policewomen of the precinct and the wives and lovers of the men on the force. Starting when Detective Carella meets and woos the beautiful deaf-mute Teddy (Cop Hater, 1956), other extracts dwell upon the Carellas as the ideal spouses, parents and lovers. Later, the focus is on handsome but amorously luckless Detective Kling. Before he can marry brainy and lovely Claire Townsend, she's shot dead by a mass murderer. Then quarrelsome Cindy Forest breaks their engagement and the officer's heart again. During the following years, Kling finally weds, expecting eternal bliss with the gorgeous model Augusta Blair; she, however, winds up in bed with a writer of TV commercials. In the collection's only partially rewarding entries, the precinct's Officer Eileen Burke earns a promotion as a decoy on the rape squad (The Mugger, 1968, through Lightning, 1984). Burke's career is a good example of the realism and fearful tensions that McBain invariably creates; in addition, one could suppose courageous Officer Burke is his bow to feminism. Given the attraction between her and Kling, however, she might be his last chance at living happily ever after. (May)