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Most suicides don't realize the headaches they cause.... Two a.m. in the bitter cold of winter: the young Hispanic man's body was found in a tenement basement. The rope around his neck suggested a clear case of suicide -- until the autopsy revealed he'd overdosed on heroin. He was a pusher, and now a thousand questions pressed down on the detectives of the 87th Precinct: Who set up the phony hanging? Whose fingerprints were on the syringe found at the scene? Who was making threatening phone calls, attempting to implicate Lieutenant Byrnes' teenage son? Somebody was pushing the 87th Precinct hard, and Detective Steve Carella and Lieutenant Pete Byrnes have to push back harder -- before a frightening and deadly chain tightens its grip.

256 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 1956

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About the author

Ed McBain

625 books583 followers
"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 Hudson, Evan Hunter, and Richard Marsten.

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5 stars
1,004 (29%)
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1,394 (40%)
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71 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 179 reviews
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
September 11, 2012
On a bitterly cold night a police patrolman finds a young Hispanic drug dealer dead in a basement apartment. There's a rope around the boy's neck, tied to the bars over the window. There's also a used syringe on the table next to the body. It's such a miserable effort to disguise a murder as a suicide that Steve Carella and the other detectives of the 87th Precinct can't even figure out why someone made the effort, especially when it becomes clear that the victim actually died of an overdose.

Any number of people might have wanted the pusher dead, including the new dealer who takes over his territory. But then other people begin dying and an anonymous caller informs Carella's boss, Lt. Pete Burns, that the fingerprints on the syringe discovered next to the body belong to no one other than the Lieutenant's own son.

This is a pretty good, if very dated, book in Ed McBain's long-running 87th Precinct series. It's a good mystery and its fun to watch Carella and the other detectives work through the investigation. This is also a very interesting book in the series because of something that McBain reveals in the afterward. Fans of the series will be sure to want to read it.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,803 reviews2,344 followers
July 16, 2013
When the body of a junkie is found in a tenement basement, the 87th is on a hunt to find out who sold him the stuff that killed him. The whole mess hits just a little too close to home for one of the detectives.

Once again, I LOVE the way McBain describes weather:

Winter came in like an anarchist with a bomb.

Wild, shrieking, puffing hard, it caught the city in cold, froze the marrow and froze the heart.

The wind roared under eaves and tore around corners, lifting hats and lifting skirts, caressing warm thighs with icy-cold fingers. The citizens blew on their hands and lifted their coat collars and tightened their mufflers. They had been enmeshed in the slow-dying lethargy of autumn, and now winter was upon them, rapping their teeth with knuckles of ice.

If only the local weatherman was as articulate...though I'd settle for accurate.

This edition of the book has an interesting afterward by McBain.
Profile Image for Deb Jones.
713 reviews81 followers
November 13, 2019
A not infrequent occurrence in any city on any day in the modern era: A junkie is found dead in his apartment with a used syringe on the floor next to him. The detectives of the 87th Precinct might have consigned this case to a shelf pronto were it not for the noose around the victim's neck, giving the first impression of suicide.

There is nothing usual about this case, from the cause of death to a list of suspects that includes the son of one of the 87th Precinct's longstanding detectives.

This isn't a long book. McBain tells his stories succinctly and well. These books can be read as standalones, but there are "rewards" for those who read them in order -- rewards being able to see the development of some of the main characters.
Profile Image for Dorothy.
1,341 reviews92 followers
October 16, 2014
Now this is more like it! It seems for years I've been reading about the 87th Precinct series - what a groundbreaker it was and how Ed McBain has been such an influence on writers of mysteries since the 1950s when this series started. But after reading the first two entries in the series, I confess I was disappointed. As far as I could see they were mostly just interesting for their historical value, but I didn't find them particularly entertaining.

Then I picked up The Pusher, third in the series. He had me with the first sentence. And with the first couple of pages of that wonderfully evocative description of the city in winter, I was hooked. I could have read the book in one sitting, except I had to stop and do other things for a while. I rushed back to it as quickly as I could.

It seemed to me that McBain really hit his stride with this book. The 87th Precinct and the city began to come to life for me. I began to care about the characters.

The story starts with a patrolman walking a beat a few days before Christmas. It is bone-numbingly cold. He sees a light that shouldn't be there and goes to investigate and finds a young Hispanic man's body in a tenement basement. There is a rope around his neck and a syringe on the cot beside him. At first, it appears to be a suicide, but an autopsy reveals he had a massive dose of heroin which actually killed him and the rope around his neck was not tied in a way that the victim could have done it. It was murder.

Detective Steve Carella and newly minted detective Bert Kling catch the initial assignment. Carella has a lot of questions about the scene of the crime. Why was it set up as an obviously phony hanging? There are fingerprints all over the syringe that was found but whose are they? There is no record of them in police files. The victim was a penny ante pusher of heroin. Who was his supplier?

As Carella and the other detectives pursue answers to those questions and others, another murder occurs. This time it is a young Hispanic woman, a known prostitute. She was savagely slashed. Much of her blood had drained away before she was discovered and taken to the hospital, but she did not survive and was not able to speak. Turns out that she was the sister of the first victim - which only raises more questions.

Carella hits the streets in search of the dead pusher's possible supplier - a punk who goes by the name of Gonzo. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Byrnes of the Precinct is receiving phone calls implicating his teenage son in the crimes. He must make the decision of whether or not to reveal this to Carella as he struggles to save his drug-addicted son.

As the painfully slow step-by-step process of sorting evidence and following up clues continues, there will be even more drama for the 87th Precinct when another dead body turns up and then one of their own is shot. This is engrossing stuff. I didn't want to put the book down until all the issues were resolved.

Interestingly, in an afterword, McBain reveals that the ending of the story was not the one that he originally wrote. His publisher argued against that ending and convinced him to change it. Good decision.

The writing here is just sparkling. I found myself rereading descriptive passages time and again, just for the pure pleasure of the way the words were strung together. Okay, I do begin to see why so many writers of mysteries revere Ed McBain.
Profile Image for Bill.
1,619 reviews75 followers
May 14, 2021
First published in 1956, The Pusher is the 3rd book in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct police procedural series. I find it hard to believe, myself, that I rated this book 5 stars, but for its small size, it packs a great punch.

The 87th Precinct is set in a fictional US city and features the cops and detectives of the 87th Precinct. In this edition, they and the city they protect are preparing for Xmas. The story starts with Detective Steve Carella and his partner, newly promoted Detective King called out to a seeming suicide. The body belongs to a young Puerto Rican addict who is found dead with a rope around his neck. To Carella, it seems to pat and he suspects that the boy has been murdered.

This begins a fascinating case involving drug dealing, an addicted Police Lt.'s son who may be involved in the murders, possible black-mailing and other murders. The story moves along at a nice pace, mainly following Carella's investigation but also covering his boss, Lt Byrnes as he must deal with issues surrounding his son.

It's more than just an investigation, although having said that, there are interesting pieces of forensic work and excellent interrogations that are realistic and well-crafted. But you also get into the personal lives of the detectives; Carella's relationship with is lovely wife Teddy and Byrnes' troubled but powerful relationship with his wife and son. Even minor characters such as Carella's informant Danny Gimp are turned into real people. I loved the dedication of the police. I loved how McBain took time to present the city and the people who lived there.

The story ended emotionally for me. The story was only 158 pages but it grabbed me from the very beginning and held me engrossed from beginning to end. I've now read the first 3 books in the series and each and everyone has been excellent. (5 stars)
Profile Image for Michael.
423 reviews49 followers
April 18, 2011
Review from Badelynge.
An early 87th Precinct story. This one promises rather more noir than it actually delivers. Its opening pages are the hook that tries its darndest to stop you putting the book back onto the spindle and choosing some other more tempting paperback. And even though it's many decades since this one saw anything other than thrift sale piles or charity shop boxes, I can appreciate why McBain lays it on so thick at the start. The city sounded like such a dark and shadow infested place on those pages... and cold, man it's cold.
'The citizens grinned into the wind, but the wind was not in a smiling mood.'
After that it gets down to business, the shadows are swept aside and the cold only nips at the narrative infrequently as McBain gets down to populating his police procedural with interesting characters. That is the real strength of these books - just well thought out and realised characters, which doesn't stint with even the minor cast.
I've heard all the comparisons to Dragnet but I'd be pulling the wool over your eyes if I agreed with them as I've barely seen more than an episode of that old series. So I'll stick with what I do know, throw my cards down on the table and say it most put me in mind of 'On Dangerous Ground' a classic noir film from the 50s starring Robert Ryan, which in turn was an adaptation of an old noir pulp by Gerald Butler. The early scenes set in the city do sing 87th Precinct at me. And I could draw a little parallel with Carella's romance with his deaf-mute wife Teddy to Robert Ryan's character falling for Ida Lupino's blind girl. I think it's true that screen writers and novelists were feeding on each other voraciously in the 40s and 50s, several of the 87th Precinct novels made it to the big screen itself, as well as a short half-life tv series which is largely forgotten.
This one is a strong entry in the series. It's strongest in the heat of the character dialogue, which is very naturalist. If you saw them acted out you would assume the actors were improvising or in some reality show sequence. It's weakest when McBain starts constructing his torturous ironic word-plays.
There's also a historic element for modern readers to enjoy, because even though though the stories take place in an imaginary city it can't hide being a city made up of amalgams of New York in the 50s. It's probably a more faithful representative of police procedures than a lot of today's detective fiction can claim, and McBain isn't shy of relating the technical minutiae of 50s forensics.
I'd recommend this series to anybody who liked the first 20 minutes of 'On Dangerous Ground' and fans of Dragnet or Hill Street Blues, though it's a nightmare trying to dig these things up cheaply over half a century since they first gave us a twirl on those paperback spindles.
Profile Image for Francis.
547 reviews18 followers
September 26, 2014
I never cared much about reading Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct novels. I didn't care much for the Cop on the beat character. All those hard, cynical, worn out Detectives yelling and beating up suspects in the back room. I didn't like the big city backdrop, all those neighborhood bars, neon lights, dreary tenements. I didn't care for the side characters the pimps, prostitutes, grinning thugs with their shiny knives, the down and outs, the ne'er-do-wells, the grieving moms in their faded dresses saying their little boy wouldn't do anything like that. No, none of that crap.

But, I was younger, I was quick to judge, I was ignorant. So ...I missed reading a lot of good books. Now I'm older, wiser, a better man and I'm trying to be a better mystery reader. So, I'm going to read more of these, cause their good. And, all I'm gonna ask of you, is that if you haven't already read this guy, then please by all means, avoid the mistakes of a younger man.


4,883 reviews54 followers
October 10, 2020
Early entry in the 87 precinct series, about the search for a drug pusher, before things really got out of hand a few years later. Feels dated and even a bit innocent. I don't know if it was really shocking to the audience or not, but the author seemed to think so.

The ending could have gone very differently.

Pretty good.
Profile Image for Toby.
832 reviews329 followers
March 25, 2012
This was once more a nice easy read; an interesting story populated with likable and well rounded characters. Where the 87th Precinct series is falling down for me after the extremely positive first installment is the lack of depth to the crimes or the investigation.

There's nothing amazing about any of it really. The opening paragraph is incredibly evocative prose that I hadn't expected to find and immediately hoped for a lot more of it in the rest of the book but aside from the chapter on the beat cop feeling the cold before he finds the first body the rest of the novel is pretty ordinary in its lyricism.

The ensemble in the 87th grows with each book, leaving Carella as a central character but not overly prominent and Kling virtually nonexistent, adding more on the Lieutenant who runs the division. But it seems we were only treated to this insight in to the big boss man because it was convenient to have ANOTHER storyline involving a relative of one of the cops and on top of that Carella is shown to be quite stupid in his following of the suspect and for the third book in a row (I think) a cop gets shot! This stuff is an infuriatingly easy device from McBain and if it happens in the 4th book I shall sell the other 20 in the series that I've picked up so far without even reading them.

I like it, but I want more from a 50+ book series to warrant giving so much time to it.
Profile Image for Gibson.
620 reviews
August 3, 2020
Casi di droga

L'87° Distretto è un ricettacolo di esistenze viste dagli occhi di diversi poliziotti, qui alle prese con un suicidio poco chiaro.

McBain riesce a creare il giusto feeling tra i suoi protagonisti e il lettore, coinvolgendolo di fatto sin da subito nei casi quotidiani di quegli uomini in divisa senza bisogno di ricorrere a improbabili eroismi. Direi piuttosto che ci riesce proprio perché di uomini si tratta (e li tratta), non di superuomini, circondandoli di quelle realtà criminali che fagocitano le strade di un distretto.
Profile Image for Byron Washington.
727 reviews4 followers
September 23, 2020
Good Story!!

Finally a story that kept me stumped from beginning to end. Now THAT'S how you hook your readers!!!

Buy it, read it and enjoy!!👍🏾🔥👍🏾🔥👍🏾🔥👍🏾🔥👍🏾🔥
Profile Image for Tony.
486 reviews37 followers
August 12, 2022
More of the same… and that can only be a positive thing!

Profile Image for K.
902 reviews11 followers
August 2, 2018
Reading a series in order! What a concept-- why didn't I think of it?
Well, full disclosure, I've been reading 87th precinct novels for quite some time-- out of order, of course. But recently, I've begun the series from the beginning, and it's a hoot.

The Pusher is the 3rd in the series, and it's really interesting to see how McBain began with the notion of an ensemble cast of detectives that would be interchangeable, with no featured hero or singular protagonist. Well, read this book and in the afterword you'll find a very interesting note from McBain re: how his original plan became somewhat modified. If nothing else, this little bit from the author makes the book worthwhile. But, for me at least, it's every bit worth the while. McBain's ear for dialogue was apparent early on and the cast of the 87th precinct becomes more familiar to the reader, Steve Carella in particular.

The story is a good, if not great, one. The setting and the characters, all fully palpable, show off McBain's talent. This is a definite for fans of the series. If you're just getting your feet wet, well, there are better entries, but fear not, you can always come back and read the whole shebang in order afterwards!
830 reviews7 followers
October 22, 2019
It's hard to talk about this book without spoilers (and the author agrees... he wrote an afterward instead of a forward)... but I'll give it a shot.

I hadn't intended to read another of these so quickly after the 1st 2, even though I knew it sorta started as a trilogy then expanded to a epic series, just because sometimes the books all start seeming the same.

Then book #4 jumped out at me in the library, and I couldn't very well skip the one in between, that'd be silly, so here I am.

I really enjoy McBain's writing, he shifts from silly to serious really well, it sets a unique tone that works really well. I do probably do without the flowery descriptions that are clearly mean to be distance shots of a TV show, but I get why they are there.

It seems like circumstances (or perhaps editors and fans) aren't going to exactly let the whole precinct be the hero.. I think Steve Carella is our guy, but this book definitely spent alot of time on Lieutentant Byrnes, and some of the other guys in the squad room (Haviland, Meyer, Kling, etc) are now legit characters, so it's at least giving us a good cast.

The story had quite a few coincidences in it.. for a area that supposed to be so big, and as they always mention, where you could always find a bunch of junkies to arrest, the fact that everything was related was a bit too coincidental, but that's to be expected really.

There was a bit too much of the 'procedural' part at times (I didn't need the play-by-play of how they got fingerprints in 1958 or whatever year this was written in), but overall the book has good pacing and give a good story.

Reading it now (60+ years after publication) it's a fantastic snap shot of the late 50s, I think that's my favorite part.. you can't get that much authenticity from a distance.

I'm definitely sold on the series for now.
476 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2019
I haven't read a McBain book in probably 10 years. It's really refreshing to read a book that just gets down to business and tells the story and you can read in a couple of days.
Profile Image for Rodolfo Santullo.
499 reviews34 followers
January 23, 2020
Si hay un campeón del ‘police procedural’ -subgénero dentro del policial, que se concentra en el quehacer realista de una investigación- este es Ed McBain. Nacido cómo Salvatore Lombino y rebautizado luego (por él mismo) cómo Evan Hunter, este prolífico escritor desarrolló una extensa carrera dentro del género (tanto cómo Hunter cómo con McBain) siendo el creador del Precinto 87, una comisaria ubicada en un barrio tenso de la ciudad de Isolda (que es New York, reconociblemente) y con un protagonismo colectivo para sus libros (aunque hay ciertos detectives que casi siempre reaparecen, especialmente Steve Carella, lo más parecido a un protagonista). Entre 1956 y 2005 se publicaron las 55 novelas que componen esta serie y hay que admitir que en general el nivel es brillante. Por supuesto que no siempre McBain descollaba -difícil hacerlo cuando escribía hasta tres novelas por año) y muchas veces compensa novelas geniales (y sobre todo, muy divertidas, porque no era ajeno al humor) con otras meramente pasables, que me temo es el caso de la que hoy reseño, la tercera de la serie y la tercera novela que publicó en 1956, año en que el Precinto 87 hizo su primera aparición.
El Traficante del título es un misterioso narco -llamado El Vicario- que aparece de la nada para complicarle la vida a los oficiales del Precinto 87, especialmente al Teniente Peter Byrnes (no recuerdo otra novela con tanto protagonismo para con el personaje) quien, delegando en parte en Carella, deberá descubrir la identidad del criminal por motivos cada vez más personales.
A diferencia de otras -y mejores- novelas de McBain, acá no hay varias tramas entremezcladas y, por tanto, la aparición de otros detectives- Bert King, Meyer Meyer- es meramente nominal. Por el contrario, se trata de una narrativa única, sencilla y efectiva, que no da un mal resultado pero tampoco especialmente bueno, a la que además se le suma que gran parte de lo que cuenta ha envejecido bastante mal. Se me ocurren no menos de 10 novelas de McBain -e incluso varias adaptaciones cinematográficas o televisivas- más interesantes que esta, que termina siendo entretenida y eficaz, pero no imprescindible ni especialmente necesaria (sin duda, no es la puerta de entrada más impactante al universo de este estupendo escritor).
Profile Image for David.
652 reviews238 followers
September 28, 2015
What makes a good book good?

To be more specific, what is the difference between a good novel and a bad novel? I think it's still fashionable, even at this late date, to avoid this question by saying no one should be limited by the ideas of others concerning what is good and bad, that one man's meat is another man's poison, etc. But – damn the torpedoes – I'm here to tell you that some things are good, and others aren't. Now, if I could just figure out which was which...

This all occurred to me while reading this fine entertaining short novel (purchased after succumbing the siren call of the Kindle Daily Deal) as a detour and a reward for making it to the half-way point of a slab-like Important Modern Novel (IMN). Both this book and IMN feature portrayals of drug addiction, even though they are in most other ways (e.g., length, swankiness of literary reputation, decade of composition, intended audience) very different.

How should a good book portray drug addiction? Does the author's opinion on the matter make any difference? There was a period, seemingly a long time ago but still in my lifetime, where people wrote with a straight face (damn, mixed metaphor... typed with a straight face? No? Wrote with a straight typewriter? Not right...With a straight word processor? Ok, Ok, move on...) about drug taking as a mind-expanding, revolutionary, spiritual, fun, or some combination of previous, activity. While it's impossible to prove that drug-taking made the life of all drug takers worse, anybody with enough grey matter left intact today can probably agree that the overall effect on society and the people in it has been overwhelmingly negative. Anyone today who attempted to flog a novel that praised drug use as an improving activity at the few remaining publishers would find their head metaphorically handed to them, along with the suggestion they let themselves be escorted off the premises by security before the police arrive, all this without any consideration of the actual quality of the writing therein.

Which is to say, I guess it's possible to take a completely irresponsible few of drug use and still be a great writer, just as reprehensible views of other topics have been held by great writers (I name no names) and admirers often manage to divorce their admiration of their prose from whatever toxic opinions the writer has held.

So, conventional wisdom, which can be correct surprisingly often, has come down, in the case of drug-taking, on the side of Evan Hunter and David Foster Wallace. Each felt the need to portray the unpleasant results of drug addiction according to their talents and understanding. DFW had famous and well-publicized first-hand experience with drug addiction and recovery, along with an unstoppable gift for manic self-expression. The result was an entertainingly terrifying look at the monkey-mind internal monologue of the overeducated drug-addicted, a high-speed plummet down the narrow corridors of denial and deception (of self and others), which is sometimes so compelling that I just needed to put the damn thing down and do something else, 'cause the IMN was giving me the howling fantods.

I had a less complex but somehow more sincere reaction to Hunter. In this book (NOT a spoiler, in my sight), a teenage boy gets hooked on heroin and it falls to the boy's parents to try to get him to quit. The boy and his father, neither of whom claims to be a massive intellect, have an argument that seems simultaneously clichéd and painfully honest, the way people might talk to their loved ones when they are too far gone in their misery to worry about how they might sound. I actually winced at the raw awkward emotion. The conversation is full of the dumb things that people in trouble say, the ridiculous lies, the self-justification, the blaming … not articulate, just real. It's not as unique and difficult-to-copy as DFW, of course, but also very good and perhaps closer to the real lived experience of many people, since few of us have the thesaurus-emptying vocabulary of nearly all of DFW's characters, regardless of previously-stated educational background and intellectual prowess of these characters.

Drug addiction in the working- and middle-classes were newer and more shocking then (i.e., when The Pusher was published). Probably, any writer writing today as McBain did would sound embarrasingly naïve, and the other members of the writing workshop would tell him to Make It New. But McBain was there first, don't forget: he told it the way it was. He invented a style and school of writing and plotting that has been ceaselessly imitated, because people saw something in it that hadn't been captured elsewhere. He made a new phenomenon real to a whole slew of people.

There are many ways to make a good book good. Unlike DFW, McBain chose a way that didn't get the literary thought leaders all excited. McBain probably couldn't help it, any more than you can stifle a sneeze that really wants to get out. DFW's good book is probably more profound, but McBain's good book may touch more people directly and less self-consciously.
1,818 reviews64 followers
January 5, 2018
A very good 87th precinct police prodecural about a pusher who tries to blackmail a police lt. by setting up his son for a murder charge. Carella's snitch cracks the case, after Carella is shot three times by a punk pusher. Exciting, well done, recommended to lovers of the 87th precint.
Profile Image for Mack .
1,498 reviews51 followers
June 17, 2019
McBain wrote three 87th Precinct novels in 1956, and each one gets better. Today, they are a little cliched, but the emotional power in the writing is strong and steady. There's a very interesting afterword tagged onto this one, too.
Profile Image for Sir Blue.
199 reviews
October 13, 2021
Ed mcbain.
He is a cop after a drug pusher.
Who sells to kids.
Then the pusher is found dead.
His suicide is fake he overdosed.
The hanging dead body.
Tuff police work like shield.
I swear I read another paperback there.
But cant remember.
44 reviews
September 22, 2019
Ed McBain is beginning to get into a groove with this, his third book. I'm starting to enjoy the characters and their interplay.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,805 reviews18 followers
June 9, 2019
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 229 (of 250)
HOOK=1 star: "Winter came in like an anarchist with a bomb." Writing a Novel: 101, Rule 1=NEVER open your novel with a weather report, otherwise you sound like an "it was a dark and stormy night" lazy author. Rule 2=Don't go over-the-top with your opening line, resulting in unintended laughter. So that's 2 rules violated right off the top.
PACE =2: A slow start picks up about 1/3rd of the way through.
PLOT= 2: Drug dealers get their comeuppance. This is much like "booze runners get in trouble" from the late 1920s. Much too standard a plot especially given that McBain's Precinct novels are on the light side.
CHARACTERS = 3: Steve Carelli takes a death shot. This character is getting more interesting in this 3rd outing. A cop's (Byrnes) son is a junky.
PLACE= 2: Could be any place. Light on atmosphere till the Holiday decorations go up, but still that has little to do with the plot.
SUMMARY = My average rating is 2.0. I think McBain wrote about 80 in this series. My understanding, however, is that he was forced to make a change in characters and their arcs by the publishers. It shows in these early works.
Profile Image for David Freas.
Author 2 books25 followers
April 25, 2014
I won’t make any bones about it. I love Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series.

Who else but Ed McBain could open a police procedural novel with a two page description of the city in winter? Who else could make that city as much a character in the story as the people in it? Who else could make the exact amount of chemicals mixed to do a test in a police lab interesting?

This, the third book in the series, published almost 60 years ago, is as fresh and engaging as it was when it first hit the shelves. Sure, some of the dialog and some of the details McBain writes sounds dated now but good writing and good storytelling never goes stale. And make no mistake about it, Ed McBain is a good – make that great – storyteller.

In many ways, this is a much more cerebral novel than many of the others. McBain treats us to more introspection by Steve Carella and other characters - his wife, Teddy, and Lieutenant Byrnes - here.

This is the 41st novel in the series that I’ve read. Only 16 more to go before I’ve read them all. But then, I’ll be sad because I won’t have any more to read.
Profile Image for Gav451.
606 reviews5 followers
January 21, 2018
The Art of the Pulp Police Procedural

Like the book I'll be brief and to the point. I know the author wrote them as a series of pot boiler books to live on but in hindsight these are great books. Because space was limited the plot is taut and efficient, no wasted space here.

The characters are sharply drawn and the twists are proper twists. I'm enjoying the way these books read and the internal ongoing life of the setting.

I also love the lack of technology and techno speak to solve problems. These feel like old school investigations.

Because of the way they were sold there is not room within the book for grand passages of description or metaphor but like choc chips in a cookie the author does sprinkle moments of description and the odd wonderfully written line to help bring the city to life through the text.

I'm enjoying slowly working through these books. Its not Sjowall and Wahloo but it is very very good thus far.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,173 reviews422 followers
October 19, 2022

Good call to read this while snowed in for the weekend. Bitterly cold, right before Christmas, the setting matches up with the story. And a great story it is, too. I can see why the 87th Precinct set the standard for a generation of writers. Some of the best parts didn’t even have to do with the case.

“Some of the people saw through the sham and the electrical glitter and the skinny Santa Clauses with straggly beards lining Hall Avenue. Some of the people felt something other than what the advertising men wanted them to feel. Some of the people felt good, and kind, and happy to be alive.”
Profile Image for AndrewP.
1,403 reviews32 followers
March 17, 2016
An unknown drug pusher is loose in the 87th Precinct. A junkie turns up dead but it's quickly noticed that someone tried to cover up a murder as an overdose.

Not a bad story, it moves along nicely with a couple of small twists.

Interesting footnote by the author. He was originally only paid for 3 novels in this series (he eventually went on to write more than 50) so he had a different ending in his original draft. Before this book was published, his contract had been renewed for a further 3 books and they convinced him to change the ending.
Profile Image for Adam.
253 reviews206 followers
April 19, 2008
Another solid entry in the series. Maybe it was just the mood I was in when I read it, but the descriptions in The Pusher seemed even more overwrought than they were in the first two 87th Precinct novels. Also, some of the "ironic" transitions were hilariously bad. The dialogue, plot, and storytelling were all top-notch, however, so I was perfectly happy.
Profile Image for Colin Mitchell.
957 reviews14 followers
July 29, 2016
A case for Steve Carella and L.t Byrnes. A suicide is a murder and this leads to further assaults and murder and an officer shot. A good fast pace with some good description of the freezing weather of December. I doubt if cops go anywhere alone today. A good read and hooks me to the series.
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