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Poison: An 87th Precinct Novel Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1992


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Mass Market Paperback, Apr 1992
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon Books (Mm); Reissue edition (April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380700301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380700301
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 10.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,816,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Product Description

About the Author

Ed McBain was one of the pen names of successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926–2005). Debuting in 1956, the popular 87th Precinct series is one of the longest running crime series ever published, featuring more than 50 novels, and is hailed as "one of the great literary accomplishments of the last half-century." 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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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I first encountered Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series of novels as a teenager and thought they were marvellous. Indeed, they were probably the first so-called 'police procedurals' that I read, and I devoured them with great eagerness. It is, however, probably about ten years since I last read one, though when I saw this on offer very cheaply in the Kindle store I thought I would give it a go.

Sadly this was not McBain at his best. It lacked both the gritty immediacy and the basic plausibility of his most accomplished novels. All of the old favourite characters are there: Detectives Steve Carella, Meyer Meyer, Bert Kling and Cotton Hawes, preserved in some form of aspic. Many recent writers of crime fiction have tended to see their character age in real time, while others such as Ruth Rendell and P D James left their protagonists Chief Inspector Wexford and Commander Adam Dalgleish in an unspecified middle age while technology and police procedures evolved around them. McBain adopts this latter approach, with the 87th Precinct standing like the kingdom time forgot, with his Peter-Pan-like detectives featuring in more than fifty novels without ageing at all.

That is not, of course, a problem in itself, and if the plot had matched up to his earlier ones I would have been perfectly happy. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. While it started promisingly with the discovery of a victim of a particularly unpleasant poisoning incident, it quickly subsided into mindless implausibility, if not inanity.

I am hoping that this is not typical of his later work but I am reluctant to try any more in case my disappointment starts to erode my fond memories of his earlier books.
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I am a sad man who does not throw away books and so I was sorting through the dusty tomes when I realised that there were a couple of 87th precinct novels I had not read. I bought this one and read it in a day and I am not sure it was worth the effort. It still has dialogue and no description, the familiar pictorial clues and the same hook if not a hooker for Hal Willis; but that soon palls and stalls as the investigation runs out of steam to be replaced by two sections relating what really happened to our hooker. It almost reads like the script of a CSI episode with rough details of how to distil nicotine as a poison, I did not know Gaggia made a home still! The nutter of a perp is also very familiar but the denouement typical McBain with a written Q and A.
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I have been a fan of Ed Mcbain ever since I read my first book in the 87th precinct seriers more than 25 years ago. Over time I have read most if not all his books and have been rarely disappointed. Now I am collecting the whole series on Kindle and re read Poison after a long time. It is still amazing and all the Mcbain characteristics are here: fast pace, crackling dialogue, exceptional characters and a sharp sense of humor. For those of you who are not familiar with McBain and the 87th precinct series, I would suggest reading earlier books in the series first. Although each book stands by itself, you will enjoy it much more if you know some of the background of the cops of 87th precinct.
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A later McBain 87th precinct, so an excellent procedural. The same "cast" in the squadroom, so it's like meeting old friends again. New York (in disguise) is almost as gritty as ever, but cleaned up a bit since the 60s and 70s. And yet.... and yet.... Well it is slightly formulaic. We don't get the background of the protagonists quite so well as in some earlier ones -their inner conflicts, the traits grounded in their family lives, early youth, tensions between personalities in the force - the sudden flashes of insight. Very enjoyable but not quite as good as his best. Still no writer hits the bullseye every time
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By Bookworm1972 on 29 Mar. 2015
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This is a classic femme fatale story as Detective Willis falls for Marilyn Hollis, who becomes the chief suspect in a series of fatal poisonings. The pace and the suspense build steadily as Willis and Carella’s separate investigations pick up speed. There is the usual gritty reality and humour of the other 87th Precinct novels and some interesting character development, especially Willis. There are only two real ways that the story can end but the excellent writing and witty dialogue drags you along, and there is enough of a twist at the end of the journey to make it all worthwhile.
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By Annakb on 5 April 2015
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The 87th Precinct series used to be one of my favourites some years ago - then Ed McBain wrote a couple of books centering on one of my least favourite characters and I stopped reading them. What a pleasure it was to read another one! I had forgotten how good the writing was, how interesting and well rounded the characters were, how interesting and intriguing the plots were and how much humour there is in his books!! I shall probably start from the beginning of the series all over again - and as there are some 50 books in the series, I guess I'll be pretty busy for a while!!
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I've been picking these up as they become 1.00. This one was certainly one of the best. Concentrating on a different detective than usual, it had a really engaging and different sort of mystery. Of course, one could suggest that the central plot with our 'hero' shacking up with the prime suspect was pretty unlikely, but sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief. Maybe the final reveal is a bit sudden (just like the first in the series actually), and I'd like to have read a couple more pages about the central relationship, but certainly an enjoyable read
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