Even after reading McBain for 20 years, I’m always amazed that I come across books that I don’t seem to have read. Granted, he wrote them over the course of 50 years, sometimes more than one a year. If I tried to read all of them and all of the Evan Hunter books and Smoke books and whatnot, it would take a whole year. Of course, given how many there are, I might have forgotten this one and only think this is the first time I read it.
This is a Deaf Man book, so the cops of the 87th Precinct dial up the dumb. They find the Deaf Man’s clues inscrutable until such time as it’s too late for them to stop the plan. I knew from the first clue what he was talking about, and I don’t live in Isola. But the cops who normally act rationally get a whiff of the Deaf Man, and they live down to his characterization.
Also, this book has a lot of unrelated subplots. The best of his books have a main crime and a subplot with some character soap opera within them. This book includes the Deaf Man’s plot, a murder mystery, an abandoned elderly case, Eileen Burke’s dealing with her transition to the hostage negotiating team, and Kling dealing with the breakup with Burke and meeting Sharyn Cooke. That’s a pile of stuff packed into one limited space, padding the book out to 350 pages and sort of scattering attention.
Don’t get me wrong; the writing is still excellent, but the potency is diminished.
I will probably read this book again; either I’ll pick it up at a book fair for a buck and forget about reading it now, or I will actually collect all of them and read them all in chronological order for fun.