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4.2 out of 5 stars51
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 10 December 2010
There are many good examples of Ed McBain's soaring talent as crime writing's best, but "Killer's Payoff" is the best I've read so far, just outdoing "Cop Hater" thanks to its winding narrative. A multi-thread story that takes Hawes and co out of the city (and their comfort zone), there is a lot more explored in this book than in others such as "The Con Man" and the wonderful "Til Death". Perhaps because of the length, we have more time to digest the events and try to figure out where McBain will take us next. As usual, you have an inkling here but don't really know for sure until the sublime finale, where everything is revealed.

Pick up any 87th Precinct book and you are guaranteed a good time, but "Killer's Payoff" sticks out as the most immediately enjoyable. 100 percent recommended.
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on 9 January 2013
The guys at the 87th Precinct have a proper little mystery on their hands when serial blackmailer Sy Kramer gets blown away in a drive-by shooting. They find there are no shortage of suspects.
My copy of Killer's Payoff had a fascinating introduction by the author in which he is fairly scathing of the outside pressures put upon him by publishing execs because they felt the series needed a boost. Cotton Hawes, introduced in the previous book, was forced upon him because the powers that be decided Steve Carella couldn't be a proper hero because he was married. McBain/Hunter went along with it but was uncomfortable with moving away from his initial concept, that of a sort of gestalt hero embodied by an ever changing squad room. No single guy should be the hero. Cotton Hawes comes along and he's tall, young, handsome and most importantly... single. And he has a penchant for striking out on his own in a pulpy P.I. way. McBain was making very little for the paperbacks at the time compared to some of his big successes like Blackboard Jungle but he was enjoying the ride anyway and determined to keep his publishers on board with Cotton but to somehow bring him more in line with the original 87th Precinct ethos. He ends his intro, as so many Cotton Hawes chapters do, with the line.... 'And so to bed'.
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Killer's Payoff is another of the early 87th Precinct novels that McBain seemed to rattle off in the late 1950s to get the series up and running. Like so many others he wrote, this one is lean, pacy and virtually unputdownable. Readable in a couple of sittings, the feel of the city and the motivation behind the characters' behaviour remains as vibrant as it surely was when it first appeared.

The introductions in these Kindle editions (written in the early 1990s when I guess the series was being re-issued in paperback by the publisher) - are also highly entertaining. You get the impression that McBain was ever-so-slightly cynical about the world of publishing and the decisions that publishers made, or the choices they tried to force writers to make. So, interesting context for anyone interested in how McBain shaped the books, and how they could have ended up going in another direction.

Streets ahead of most modern stuff in terms of the pace and directness, re-reading the 87th Precinct series should be on the to do list of any wannabee crime writer. Cracking stuff.
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on 13 June 2014
With Amazon discounting some 87th Precinct novels, have been on a binge read of some the early ones which I must have read from my dad's bookshelves over 30 years ago, therefore even then they were "dated", but somehow, once you accept that these stories are a slice of life from half a century ago, you are totally sucked into the story and find yourself plowing to the end in one or two sittings. There is no difficulty getting into a novel about the 87th if you have read some before, it's like you are picking up where you left off with great friends. I enjoy the ones with Carella as the main focus but this was quite enjoyable in that it was Cotton Hawes who was the main protagonist and he certainly seems to have his own way of dealing with things. Also worth getting for the Mcbain intro.
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on 29 August 2013
I got this book because I am re reading all off ed macbain's 87th precinct novels and this one doesn't let you down. recommended. excellent service from seller and book arrived on time
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on 6 October 2011
The 87th Precinct investigate the shooting of a blackmailer.

After the under-par 'Killer's Choice' it's good to see McBain back on form. Usual fast pace, the action moves out of the city as latest recruit Cotton Hawes finds the investigation takes him into the mountains as the murder seems to be far more complicated than it appears. Enjoyable read, with a nice sense of place and feel for the regulars.
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What a great read. Who shot the blackmailer? Slowly and inexorably the team hunt down a murderer but I think this is the first in the series to have a twist at the end where it's not really obvious whodunit. All the usual McBain trademarks are there - a straight, logical plot, spare prose and wonderful characters. This is a great short read.
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on 8 August 2015
Have given 4 stars based on my past experience of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct stories. As yet not gotten around to reading this book yet - still reading another book purchased through Amazon. Will re-review after reading.
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on 5 November 2015
Spoiled by the author's personal thoughts on his publisher. I dont want to hear that a character has been introduced just to please the money men. Very simplistic read anyway and a disappointment all round.
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on 6 November 2015
Really enjoyed reading this fast paced story, a really good police story that flowed nicely along to a apt ending which I had already worked out but not enough to spoil what is a very good read.
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