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The Empty Hours

(87th Precinct #15)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Three chillers from the files of the 87th Precinct: A young, wealthy woman is found strangled to death in a slum apartment leaving behind only her name, some cancelled checks, and an unknown killer in The Empty Hours. . . . A big, ugly "J" is painted on the synagogue wall by a killer who had brutally stabbed the rabbi on Passover. . . . A bright red pool of blood spread in ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2005 by Orion (first published 1962)
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3.78  · 
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 ·  741 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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James Thane
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The fifteenth entry in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series consists of three novellas featuring the precinct's detectives. In the first, a wealthy young woman is found murdered in a room in a run-down boarding house. Why in the world was she living there, when she had loads of money and a very upscale home at her disposal? There's precious little evidence to go on, and Detective Steve Carella is reduced to going through her cancelled checks, grasping at straws in an effort to find her killer.

In the
Aug 08, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
The Empty Hours consists of three 87th Precinct novelettes:

007 - "The Empty Hours"
095 - "J"
171 - "Storm"

The book is 255 pages.
Noah Goats
First of all, the cover of the edition I read describes this thing as an “87th precinct novel”. It isn’t a novel. It’s a collection of stories. I like stories but if I begin reading something with the idea that it’s a novel I don’t like discovering that it isn’t when I get to page 90. I get it that novels sell better than short story collections, but please don’t mislead me about what I’m reading.

Second of all, this collection isn’t very good. The titular story is remarkably predictable and comp
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three novellas involving the cast of the 87th. Didn't know how I'd feel about short stories instead of the usual length, but I was very pleasantly surprised. All three stories were concise and intriguing and character driven. McBain doesn't get nearly enough credit for his character development and commentary. A story involving the murder of a rabbi was surprisingly touching.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Empty Hours by Ed McBain is really a collection of three short stories. Each story is self contained, features one or more of the detectives of the 87th precinct, and all are entertaining and well paced.

Of the three, I found the second story to be the most compelling. It’s the second day of Passover and a rabbi has been murdered just outside his synagogue. The letter “J” is scrawled on the wall, suggesting that this was a hate crime perpetrated by an anti-semite. Despite it being Det. Steve
Unlike all the previous books in this series, this one is collection of three short novellas. The first is a standard murder investigation with a twist at the end. The middle one is a story about the murder of a Jewish rabbi in what looks like an anti semetic hate crime. The final story is what happens when Cotton Hawes goes away for a weekend skiing with his lady friend.

Pretty good and an easy read as each story is only about 80 pages.
An interesting set of three novellas set in or around the detectives of the 87th precinct. As the books in this series go, this was a solid addition to the overall story arc.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, which is considered the 15th in the 87th precinct series, actually consists of three novellas, each of which has a personality all its own. In the first novella, "The Empty Hours" a rich young woman is found dead in a slum. The second concerns the murder of a Rabbi and shows the Antisemitism which was so much a part of our culture at that time (and which, of course, still exists today.) The third entry, my favorite, takes place at a rundown ski resort where detective Hawes and his fem ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
87th Precinct books are short. So why not make them into short stories and put them in a book? That will work, right? Not really.

The books are so lean, making them into short stories feels like all bone. And who wants to read about Cotton Hawes skiing and getting laid anyway?

The stories are short, kinda dull, and didn't much work for me. Alas. The Jewish one is probably the best of the lot, if I had to pick one.

My 87th Precinct completist quest continues...
Tom Stamper
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The three shorter 87th Precinct stories featuring a ski resort, a synagogue, and a dead rich girl. They each contain and interesting idea that works as the entire story skipping the subplots of the previous 87th novels. Carella wants to know why a rich girl is living in ramshackle boarding house. Meyer wants to know who killed the rabbi. Cotton Hawes is on a skiing vacation with his girlfriend when a ski instructor is murdered.
Colin Mitchell
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
Short stories and novellas are not usually my "cup of tea" but these three stories fall in the chronological sequence of the 87th Precinct novels and I needed a quick fix after my last read. All the usual painstaking work of following the clues and sometimes just getting lucky. One slight departure is the final story "Storm", in which Catton Hawes takes a weekend break and is caught up in a murder case.

Easy reading. Recommended.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mcbain
just finished this one. thursday, afternoon. four pee em if it matters. three shorter pieces in this one. the description says that, but i didn't know when i looked at amazon. saw the price, 2.99 i think, and that was the draw, other than it is from mcbain. i really enjoy the stories. the last one takes place on the ski slopes north of town. one has the jewish element. lot of things jewish in that one, makes for an interesting read, things some don't know. i didn't. have another mcbain ready on ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thriller
This book has two cases - one is the murder of a rabbi and the other is the murder of a young ski instructor. I have no doubt that plenty of city cops have trouble dealing with rural cops (in some cases, justified).
Oliver Clarke
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A break from the norm, in that this features 3 novellas rather than a single novel, but none the worse for it. My favourite of the 3 stories was the last one, which has Hawes on a skiing holiday, butting heads with the local cops as he tries to solve a murder.
Jason Reed

Read the next book out of order, and FWIW, I could have done without this one. The first two stories were easily predictable, the third pretty lame. Only three 🌟s for this one.
Nancy A. Rodgers
A great read anytime any where...

This series is always good, this particular book is a great mix of characters and situations that's entertaining. I especially liked the last one set in a ski lodge the comedy of events in one particular setting is memorable. He is one of my favorite authors I'm saddened that he is no longer alive to continue on with his writing.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This series is based on Dragnet, just like all the Star Trek novels are based on those tv series.
Jason Chaousy
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This one is 3 stories in one. Good books.
Keith Astbury
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Three short-ish stories. The third was set at a ski-resort and was a very different beast for McBain.
S. Wilson
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Empty Hours is a collection of three short 87th Precinct stories by Ed McBain: The Empty Hours, "J", and Storm. A welcome departure from the typical 87th Precinct structure, these three shorter pieces each focus on a specific crime, and more importantly, how that specific crime affects the precinct boy working on the case.

In The Empty Hours, Steve Carella investigates an apparent suicide with Meyer Meyer's assistance as he desperately looks for evidence of homicide, leading them to more myst
Nemo Erehwon
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Empty Hours by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter)

Before CSI, before the Law & Order, there were the 87th Precinct mysteries. The starred Cotton Hawes, Meyer Meyer, Steve Carella and some others, and focused on the legwork of detecting and police procedures.

Thus there are plenty of scenes of cops gabbing, thinking, and spending a lot of time checking stories. There is no corruption, no planted evidence, no bad policing due to racial overtones, just the facts, the chits for gas, the use of crappy car
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, series, police
This book of McBain's 87th precinct series had three separate short novels. The first, "The Empty Hours", has Detectives Carella and Meyer investigating the death of a beautiful young heiress found dead in a slum apartment. The second, "J", again features Carella and Meyers, this time investigating the murder of a rabbi behind the synagogue on Passover. The third, "Storm", has Detective Hawes investigating on his own the death of a ski instructor stabbed with a ski pole; he's supposed to be havi ...more
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
So it seems like McBain had some interesting story ideas that wouldn't quite flesh out to full novels so he gave us these three interesting novellas as a nice surprise.
The three stories are well written and their length creates a real focus on the crime involved. Two of them really add to the development of two of the detectives we have come to know throughout the series.
I really noticed some of the prose he uses to describe settings and scenery in these stories. I really enjoy the way he talks
Grady McCallie
This entry in McBain's 87th precinct series is, somewhat unusually, three short stories rather than a single plot. In the first, the victim of a confusing crime is not what she appears to be; in the second, a young rabbi is horribly murdered on Passover, and signs point to a hate crime; in the third, Detective Cotton Hawes' romantic ski weekend upstate is (partly) interrupted by a murder on a ski lift. In language and attitudes the stories are dated, but the dialogue is, as usual for McBain, cra ...more
Daniel Sevitt
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 87th-precinct
Three short stories, each different. I had no idea when I began this project of reading the 87th Precinct books in order, just how Jewish they were going to be. The middle story in this collection is about the murder of a Conservative Rabbi on the first night of Pesach. It's about what it means to be a Jew, antisemitism and the tension between traditional orthodoxy and conservatism. All that in a 60 page whodunnit. Remarkable.
This book is a change from other books in the series. Instead of being one story with the detectives investigating several crimes, it’s 3 novella length stories in one book. Those 3 novellas are each just as rich as every full-length book in this series.

And that’s all that needs to be said about any Ed McBain book.
Glenn Garvie
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
McBain experiments again with his series development, this time as three unrelated novelettes, similar is length to the Rex Stout triplicate collections. Unfortunately, the 87th stories flourish in a longer form; these short pieces are over too quick and strangely dull. As an aside, the third installment here contains so little dialogue, it hardly seems like McBain at all.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Somewhat typical fun story in my idea of looking for cultural change over a 40 year period by reading the 87th precinct stories in order. This was a little different in that it is 3 short stories in one book.
David Highton
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thanks again to Kent Library for unearthing this non-Kindle book - three separate stories all very good - read in one sitting
David Reynolds
I liked the 3 short stories in this book. McBain again shows how we like all of his cops..
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"Ed McBain" is one of the pen names of American author and screenwriter Salvatore Albert Lombino (1926 – 2005), who legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956.

He also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, Dean Hu

Other books in the series

87th Precinct (1 - 10 of 55 books)
  • Cop Hater (87th Precinct, #1)
  • The Mugger (87th Precinct, #2)
  • The Pusher (87th Precinct, #3)
  • The Con Man (87th Precinct, #4)
  • Killer's Choice (87th Precinct, #5)
  • Killer's Payoff (87th Precinct, #6)
  • Killer's Wedge (87th Precinct, #7)
  • Lady Killer (87th Precinct, #8)
  • 'Til Death (87th Precinct, #9)
  • King's Ransom (87th Precinct, #10)