Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kiss (1992)

Shocking, in a way. It's been more than 20 years since I have read from the 87th Precinct series of police procedurals by Ed McBain, which means that even a book published in 1992 I have to take more or less as new, all further developments as yet unknown beyond a certain point in the late '80s. Typically enough, it runs well over 300 pages, but it is reasonably lean and swift, focusing largely on a plot about a wealthy investment banker who hires a hit man to murder his wife. This is interwoven with the soap opera storyline of Steve Carella, observing the trial of the man who killed his father. Kiss is not a best effort in many ways. Even the title turns out to be a hunk of nothing that simply molders there. The twist ending is too cute by half, stepping all over some otherwise intriguing plot points, offering up a kind of late-breaking Double Indemnity narrative line that I think would have been better developed in the light. The court case and Carella thread may or may not be slightly belabored (I think yes), but it's interesting to read now among other reasons because of its close proximity following the Rodney King case and preceding the OJ Simpson case. A snapshot of a certain historical moment in criminal justice, if you will. I also wonder how well McBain might have been familiar with Law & Order at that time, still in its early years but already excellent. McBain often rambles on in discursive fashion, as usual, and the sidebars are often as interesting as the investigations because they are all so skillfully integrated.

In case it's not at the library.

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