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4.2 out of 5 stars117
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 28 October 2012
The year turns and another 87th Precinct book breezes through. It's April in Isola. The cruellest month? Cruel enough anyway as the con is well and truly on. McBain relishes in his chosen theme. The con and the conmen themselves get a thorough going over by McBain's philosophically edged examination. The detectives of the 87th are trying to reel in a couple of tricksters who are working their way through the confidence trick handbook, fleecing the rich and poor for a fortune or a dime. Arthur Brown and newly promoted Bert Kling are hitting the streets trying to luck out for a lead on the pair. But it's Steve Carella who discovers a far more sinister and deadly conman at work. The river deals him a woman, dead for some time, a tattoo of a heart encircling the word MAC almost hidden on the flesh of her hand and a mysteriously emptied bank account. As ever the characters are great and becoming more familiar by the book. With the investigations waiting for that one killer lead, McBain revels in dangling them in front of the wrong eyes at the wrong time. Some of it gets dangled by our eyes too through print outs of missing persons reports, Criminal identity cards and, somewhat indecipherably, dental records. Carella is recently back from his honeymoon with new wife Teddy who is deaf-mute. This one works up to a particularly suspenseful finale with Teddy aiding in the investigation.
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on 27 May 2013
Well written as usual. A clever take on an old theme. Will continue to read this author's work. At the same time I think this genre is becoming a bit overcrowded.
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on 26 January 2013
I bought this item for a christmas present and my wife was very please with it
it has given her many hours of enjoyment
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2013
Bafflingly - and annoyingly, the book that precedes this: "The Pusher", is not yet available in Kindle, so "The Con Man" references significant events that lose some impact for anyone trying to run through the 87th Precinct titles in e-book format in the right order.

That said, The Con Man continues with the high quality standard of storytelling that McBain set in these early, slim,titles. There is a deceptive ease to reading these books, and yet they pack a real punch. The way McBain sketches the city in all its various shades is like something Simenon was doing with his Maigret stories, and it's easy to see why Sjowall and Wahloo copied so shamelessly from McBain's punchy, direct style when writing the Martin Beck thrillers in due course.

The only truly baffling thing here is to read Amazon reviews describing McBain's style as old-school and 'boring'. You're kidding me, right? Much of today's crime writing would benefit from the slick, pared down approach that McBain adopted and pioneered when writing about the cops of the 87th Precinct. It's impossible to imagine that much of the stuff being written today will come over as fresh and exciting when read again over fifty years later.
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on 2 December 2014
The storytelling is so easy-going, so natural, so apparently effortless, there is a danger of speed-reading it unnecessarily, such is the desire to keep pace with the plot! Even slowing down deliberately every so often, in order to savour the writing, as you might linger over every sip of a good wine, I still managed to read the novel in, for me, record time! The author even succeeds in making police autopsy -routines fascinating and exciting. You sense that every syllable might contain a too-easily-overlooked clue. The deadpan cop-dialogue, the incidental detail of city life in urban America, the pace of narration, the sense that in the midst of civil life, we are surrounded by crime, the small but deadly accurate brush- strokes which bring the characters to life for the reader, all add up to a splendid read. Someone once said that serious readers should not bother with newspapers at all, but instead devote the time saved to reading good literature. If all books read as well as this one, I would definitely have done just that, sooner in life! This is prose/poetry of a very high order, hence the five stars I have awarded it
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2013
Whether writing as Ed McBain or Evan Hunter, the author enjoyed great success for his inventive tales and fluent style. Time, though, has moved the police procedural genre a long way forward; the 87th Precinct series has period charm if you are kind or else feels simply dated.

Having been a devotee many years ago, I cannot really believe that even then The Con Man was McBain at his best. He has a trick of setting a theme - the city in the rain, for example here - and then knocking off an easy riff for a dozen paragraphs. The result is to stall the narrative and leave this reader anyway irritated.

The Con Man is not helped by the major of its two themes - a serial killer of vulnerable women - being not entirely plausible at the outset and close to barmy by its solution. I am sorry to have diluted my admiration for McBain.
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I like this series. They are relatively short and deceptively simple police procedurals. In this case the hunt is on for two separate conmen - the big one who romances plain Janes, steals their money and then poisons them and the small one who fleeced a girl of $5. The principle is the same: stealing is stealing. The writing style is spare and factual, much the same as the detectives it portrays but it still conveys so much as I'm sure I felt the April sun described in chapter 1.
For those who know the series I don't need to say much more but for those who don't these are the original police procedurals and the blueprint for future generations but they will seem dated as they are a product of their time.
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on 15 September 2013
I bought this to try as an alternative to other crime books, and I have to say that I found it boring by comparison. I'm off to start on a Peter Robinson or similar now, and I think I'll be giving Ed McBain a miss, for a while at least. Maybe I need to read more of his to get into his style, but it just didn't hold my attention well enough. It jumped from one character to another without really having a link, and left me with questions that weren't relevant, yet needed answering. A disappointing read.....
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on 21 May 2013
Slickly written, gripping and a smashing read. The characters are well crafted and the story line is thrilling. Brilliant read.
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on 5 October 2014
I love the Ed McBain 87th precinct novels and bought 20 when there was a 'special' kindle daily deal.
It is great to follow the same characters in each book, they all take part in stories to a greater or lesser extent except Steve Carella who is a central pin but they all appear often.
I am glad Ed McBain wasn't encouraged to kill him off early in the series.
All the books are good thriller/cop stories/mysteries.
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