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The first 87th Precinct novel of the 1960s
on 10 May 2015
If you read the misleading "product information" blurb about this particular 87th Precinct novel, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's about a raincoated serial killer stalking the streets. It isn't. Perhaps people who actually read the books should write the blurb, yes? McBain was a much more polished operator than to offer up serial-killer related sensationalism in his books. That said, this first book to launch the 87th Precinct series into the sixties - (this one was published in 1960) - is more grisly than previous volumes, and certainly ends in a way that perhaps would have shocked some back when it first appeared.
Notably, the quality of the books goes up another notch with Give The Boys A Great Big Hand. Fast-paced yet reflective, worldly-wise yet often intimate and driven by the fantasies and private thoughts of the individual characters, McBain is polishing and honing his craft here, a craft that would lead to the production of some of the finest titles in the series as he moved through this decade and into the seventies.
There simply is no fat on an 87th Precinct novel. The storytelling, tight-plotting and believable characters makes for another compelling read here. Sadly, 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of McBain's passing - and there has simply been no-one to touch him since, in terms of consistently excellent crime writing that keeps you turning the pages. Whilst it's great to see the majority of titles re-appearing now in Kindle format, it's hard not to gripe at the fact that the entire series in proper sequence is yet to be available either in e-book or re-issued paperbacks. A shameful omission - and one that should be rectified. I've said it before in my 87th Precinct reviews and will say it again here - McBain was a genius, and the series is in a league of its own.