I got this copy of Poison from the Greater St. Louis Book Fair for $1.00. I know I’ve read it before because my Aunt Dale owned a copy of it; I remember the hot blonde on the cover. For all I know, I own that copy, too, since Aunt Dale is the aunt who passed away a year and a half ago and bequeathed me many of her books. This one, though, still has the price sticker on it and was on the floor in my stacks instead of in boxes or on my completed reading shelves. Well, there, you have my history with the copy I read most recently.
This book represents a mid-career Ed McBain 87th precinct novel, where the 1960s era is early and the 2000-esque books are late. As I’ve mentioned, McBain wrote a long series of books which hold up very well. The back cover offers a quote comparing McBain to Georges Simenon. Peh. He’s a modern Erle Stanley Gardner, and beyond; the books hold up beyond the time in which the author wrote them.
This installment deals with a murder by nicotine poisoning that Carella and Willis catch. Willis starts falling for the lover of the victim. She’s hot, blonde (hence the cover), and emancipated in that 1980s, I sleep with a lot of men way. When her other lovers start dying, the detectives of the 87th Precinct–well, except for Willis–start suspecting she’s the killer.
McBain was a master. I lament the knowledge that there won’t be any more of the 87th Precinct novels, but I know I can reread the ones I’ve read previously again as I acquire them or as the mood strikes me.