Lullaby Vespers Widows (87th Precinct Mysteries) Paperback – 28 May 2001
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"Chicago Tribune" A master clearly is at work!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The first page introduces the murder scene, and from there on the plot twists and suspicious characters accumulate with bullet-train velocity. The detectives find out another B&E (breaking and entering) occurred in another apartment in this building, and chase the burglar believed responsible, while a lapis pendant found at the scene is overlooked for the moment but will assume greater significance.
By the 1980s, people were overlooking the 87th Precinct a little, while McBain himself pumped out one great book after another, finding something a little different to bring out about the precinct territory and the nature of hard crime each time. It's been said McBain writes not "whodunits" but "whydunits," and "Lullaby" is a classic "whydunit," but it also works as a standard police procedural.
There's a second plot that introduces a new group of bad guys, members of a Jamaican drug "posse" who tangle with Det. Kling after he interrupts three of them in the middle of a hit on a Hispanic rival. The storyline actually takes us through a parade of ethnic nationalities, each representing a major force in the underworld, in a way that allows McBain full vent for his political incorrect dialogue and humor as he throws them up against each other. When it's all over, and only one group is left standing, the boss decides it's "all a matter of which is the oldest culture."
This second story is fun, but it's less integrated thematically and in plot with the other story than is typical for McBain, it moves a bit baroquely and the conflict with Kling is not resolved in a satisfying manner. The first story is the main one, and it moves with force and deftness, but the reveal of the killer striking about 30 pages short of the end read like a mistake to me. Otherwise, it keeps you guessing, as much about motive as identity (who would kill an infant?), and that is a huge part of the story's success.
Until then, it works almost as well as a psychological thriller as it does a murder mystery. In order to solve the crime, the detectives have to get inside the mind of someone who killed a child. Even for hardened investigators, this is not an easy place to be. The theme of lost innocence, prefigured by the title, is everywhere in this story, in such details as the lapis pendant, a fugitive who seeks shelter and companionship from his former babysitter, and an old man dying in Washington State.
It's hard to say any book that features a dead baby is funny, and certainly McBain handles this sensitive subject with grace and finesse. But the mourning tone does not detract from enjoying the book as a satisfying crime drama, and as a prime representation of a crime fiction master at his best.
What a fun sampler this is 3 complete novels from the late 80's to the early 90's for approximately the price of two paper back novels.
I truly got my money's worth out of these three totally different
tales of the 87th Precinct
In Lullaby, a little baby and her 17 year old baby sitter are murdered on New Years Eve. There's also a major drug deal going down. And, a cop who was raped is traumatized over the shooting of a criminal and wants to quit the force. These three story lines encompass the entire book. This is a true police procedural. We get to know the characters a little, but not too much.
I really don't know what to think. The plot moved along briskly and the police moved closer to solving the baby and sitter murder. The drug deal and gangs seemed confusing at times, and the cop that wanted to quit was probably tied to another novel. I guess I thought all the story lines might be tied together at the end, and they weren't. Each separate story was like a TV show, when I was expecting a major motion picture. I'll probably read more in this series and you should too if you like these types of novels. I'll just know I should expect to be entertained, not overhwelmed.