Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Last Dance (2000)

So, yeah, this is helping to answer my questions about the end of the 87th Precinct series of police procedurals by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter, which wasn't his real name either)—not bad. As it happens, this is also a milestone in the series, the 50th book, so perhaps McBain was unusually up for it. The main case is a pretty good tale of murder for greed. Fat Ollie Weeks has more than ever become a character of interest, and it's all for the good. He represents a very adroit balance of loathsome and fascinating. Lots of nice touches here such as some misdirection about Houston, Texas, or the Broadway-style panache of the stage show producer and his minions. I'm not sure I hear the same hum and crackle of earlier titles, but it's still plenty serviceable as a procedural thriller. Multiple bodies are involved, the cruelty is wanton but comes in a variety of styles. I love the feeling of Isola as an alternative universe New York City that somehow exists with New York City in this world, though little is said (that I've seen / recall) about New York City in detail. Steve Carella feels a little tired or exhausted. They all do, a little, those left. I wonder how the timeline works in this series, because here we are, some 44 years later, and Carella is just turning 40. I am not trying to involve the consistency police and cause trouble—just curious. Because that makes apparent there is no one-to-one kind of correspondence with reality and instead something more complicated, or nonexistent. Why complicate it? It's just one of those things. I can roll with it. I was particularly happy to see Law & Order referenced, as I was curious about his take. It seems to be a favorite of at least two characters, the longstanding Bert Kling and his love interest, a highly accomplished African-American woman, a surgeon liaison with the police, Sharyn Cook. One of the detectives is shot and injured. But that and the Kling thread do feel a little pro forma. So overall maybe a B+ for this one, upped a notch simply for making it to 50 in reasonably good style. But let's put this in perspective. There's no reason I've seen yet not to keep at the '70s and '80s titles, which are generally best, though the '50s—oh hell, all eras really up to then, the '60s too—definitely have points to recommend them. Before you get to these later ones in the '90s and beyond. In general, they can wait. This one too.

In case it's not at the library.

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