Sy Kramer was handsome, well-dressed, well-heeled - and dead. A blackmailer who'd pushed one of his victims too far, Kramer had earned his last payoff: a bullet in the head. Which of Kramer's pigeons had so much at stake that murder seemed like the best bet? Was it the politician's wife, anxious to conceal her shadowy past? Or the soft drinks king? Or was it that unknown victim who had fattened Kramer's bankroll by the thousands? Or perhaps another blackmailer muscling in on Kramer's territory? The boys of the 87th have a tough case to crack. They must catch the desperate killer before he or she strikes again, and Kramer's blackmail victims are decidedly unwilling to cooperate.
Ed McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 - 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and Psychology. After a short stint teaching in a high school, McBain went to work for a literary agency in New York, working with authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and P.G. Wodehouse all the while working on his own writing on nights and weekends. He had his first breakthrough in 1954 with the novel The Blackboard Jungle, which was published under his newly legal name Evan Hunter and based on his time teaching in the Bronx.
Perhaps his most popular work, the 87th Precinct series (released mainly under the name Ed McBain) is one of the longest running crime series ever published, debuting in 1956 with Cop Hater and featuring over fifty novels. The series is set in a fictional locale called Isola and features a wide cast of detectives including the prevalent Detective Steve Carella.
McBain was also known as a screenwriter. Most famously he adapted a short story from Daphne Du Maurier into the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). In addition to writing for the silver screen, he wrote for many television series, including Columbo and the NBC series 87th Precinct (1961-1962), based on his popular novels.
McBain was awarded the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986 by the Mystery Writers of America and was the first American to receive the Cartier Diamond Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He passed away in 2005 in his home in Connecticut after a battle with larynx cancer.