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"The Big Bad City" (1999) is one in the long series of 87th Precinct mystery novels by Ed McBain. It's set in contemporary times, in "Isola," his take on the wonderful city of New York, and boasts a complex, multi-level plot that should please most mystery lovers.

McBain's cop, Detective Steve Carella, is involved in three cases at once. The Cookie Boy, so dubbed by the city's media, is a careful, professional thief, who leaves white boxes of home baked chocolate chip cookies on the pillows of his victims. But, this time, he has stumbled into an occupied apartment, with disastrous, murderous results. The body of a pretty girl has been found in the park: preliminary investigation reveals that she is a nun, Sister Mary Vincent, born Kate Cochran in Philadelphia, and possessor of breast implants. And Sonny Cole, convicted felon who killed Carella's father in the commission of a felony but was somehow found not guilty, is following Carella, planning to kill him, as he believes the detective will inevitably try to kill him in revenge. So McBain's juggling these three interesting plots, though it must be said, they are somewhat mannered and artificial. But he works them out, in a page turner that keeps driving forward.

McBain also did a superior job of rendering New York, its ambiance, its speech, its geography and harsh weather: he was certainly one of the best of the genre writers in this regard. I do get a bit distracted by his made-up names for streets, boroughs and bridges, don't know why he thought that necessary, but I can live with it. The author, who is deceased, was the only American to receive the Diamond Dagger, the British Crime Writers Association's highest award. He also held the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. His books, at the publication of this one, had already sold over one hundred million copies worldwide; this figure includes the highly influential The Blackboard Jungle, published early in his career under his own name, Evan Hunter; made into a movie under the same name (Blackboard Jungle [Region 2] [import]). He also wrote the screen play for Alfred Hitchcock's famed film,Birds [DVD]. He was a talented guy and a prolific writer, and "Big Bad City" is a quick, enjoyable read.
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on 15 January 2012
We have three sub-plots here, all dealt with by members of the 87th precinct - the case of a murdered nun, a burglary which goes horribly wrong, and a criminal's plans to shoot a policeman who had him arrested for murder.

This is good police fiction, albeit without any complexity or twists and turns. I wasn't thrilled about the structuring which saw the threads run into each other without text breaks, potentially throwing the reader into confusion (or was this perhaps a Kindle formatting problem?). All stories also ended a little too quickly for me with everything wrapped up in a few pages.

That said, it wasn't hard to turn the pages here and despite not be overly challenged by the material, I did enjoy the easy writing style and plot elements. 3.5 stars.
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on 5 October 2014
I love the Ed McBain 87th precinct novels and bought 20 when tere 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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on 2 January 2000
A superb piece of story-telling. McBain does his usual trick here of combining three stories into one main narrative. You can hardly spot the joins. His best novel for quite a while.
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on 28 May 2014
Ed McBain is one of the best down to earth descriptive authors, with a total knowledge of police work, and also a perception of the ups and downs of police work; he is also able to inject the laid back humour which is involved with being a police officer, and which can sometimes be misinterpreted. The TV series was an excellent production and now actually reading the books is even better. Well done!
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on 8 September 1999
Ed McBain does what he does best - intermingles the crime, families, life & loves of the 87th Squadron. If you have read the others, like me, you remain part of the family, growing old with them, still in love with Teddy after all these years, still wanting to be part of it. It was like coming home!
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on 13 September 2013
I hadn't read a McBain 87th in years and years but this proved (as though there could be any doubt!) that they're ALL hugely enjoyable.
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on 25 April 2014
rated this book with 5 stars because it is a well written enjoyable read.
I would recommend it to all who like an interesting mystery story.
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on 7 December 2013
A fantastic insight to the criminal/police conflict. Does natural justice prevail at the end with the death of the "professional criminal?
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on 12 February 2014
As always, an easy read with familiar characters whose lives and personalities are as important as the stories themselves. Enjoyable.
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