After producing 87th Precinct crime novels regularly for fifteen years, Ed McBain issued this one in 1971. He uses a variant on the usual formula. Crimes investigated by most of the sixteen detectives on the Police Squad in one twenty-four hour period are presented. Robbery, prostitution, paedophilia, suicide, drug offences, assassination, murder, missing persons, ghosts - all these things come to the attention of the regular officers that feature in McBain's books. The cross-cutting and the editing techniques now so familiar to viewers of TV police procedural programs are here initiated by McBain.
As usual, McBain displays unerring skill at presenting scenes and characters vividly and economically. Especially realistic is the dialogue.
Readers who wish to be introduced to an Ed McBain crime novel are recommended to start with this one. Shorter than most, but tightly-packed, it provides the reader with quick access to the realism, sleaze and sensation that comprise the McBain formula.