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on 9 June 2017
As always a thoroughly entertaining novel from Ed Mcbain. I think of the characters as "old friends" and love to follow their exploits both on and off duty
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on 9 August 2017
Another very good book, great service & choices.
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on 13 September 2015
The baldness of the perpetrator got to me.
The choosing of the victims all of a certain age, the use of the same weapon every time, the profligate spending of money, the softening of the heart of the prostitute, this was all puzzling. Till you got to the end. And unbelievably at the end you felt sympathy for him.
The ones I did not feel sympathy for were the two detectives gong on about their love life. Interfered with the story. Could have done without.
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on 27 April 2017
A great read
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 September 2005
When the fiddlers have fled...
It begins when a blind violinist is found shot - twice, in the face - in an alley outside his club, located somewhere within the borders of the good ol' 87th precinct. Within a very short time, another identical killing occurs elsewhere in the city. The gun used is the same, but there is no connection between the two victims whatsoever. The immortal boys of the 87th are stumped. It's a state affairs that continues, despite their valiant efforts, as the corpses seem to drop around them like rain. A university lecturer, a priest, a widow... The only thing any of them have in common is a plethora of years to their age. Stumped though they are, the boys will have to doggedly chase down all the leads until the final breakthrough which will crack the case, and they have to do it quickly, before the killer racks up too many more victims.
It's hard to read this book. Not in a bad way - McBain's prose is as fresh, youthful, witty, free of pretension and full of zest for life as ever, and his dialogue is some of the finest. As always, this is an 87th Precinct novel that takes almost no effort to read and yet rewards you in spades for doing so - you almost feel as if you're cheating, somehow. No, it's hard to read in a bittersweet way. It's difficult not to feel a little melancholy, knowing that this is - in all likelihood - the final 87th Precinct novel, since McBain's sad death in July. (Rumours that there are two more yet to come - "Put them All Together and they Spell Mother" and "Exit" - have not been corroborated either way, but we can live in hope.) Not only that, but you almost feel a little guilty for having so much absolute fun, too. Though of course that's what McBain would have wanted. He was doing what he did best right up to the end, and Fiddlers is classic McBain: brisk, playful, hugely entertaining. As always, very funny. Even after over 50 years, each book still gives a sense of how much fun McBain had coming up with these things, and Fiddlers is no exception.
For what might be their last outing together, all the gang are here for the swansong: Carella, Hawes, Brown, Meyer, Kling, Parker and, of course, the wonderful Fat Ollie Weekes (who's still wooing Patricia Gomez, in what's been a rather touching storyline over the last couple of books!) With so many ended lives to investigate, they need every man on. It's wonderful to see them all together. Not only that, but the way McBain stitches their personal lives into the tapestry is as sure and effortless as ever; he has always had a charmingly human touch, an ease at bringing all his characters to life by letting us glimpse, occasionally, their lives outside the job. Kling's relationship with forensic detective Sharyn Cooke looks to be on the rocks; Hawes meets someone in the process of the case; Steve Carella and his wife have to deal with finding that their daughter has smoked marijuana.
The mystery this time around is a compelling one: who could possibly want these people dead? The killings are too organised, too precise, for a serial killer. The profile just doesn't fit. There must be some kind of connection, but what? To be honest, there's probably one murder too many. There's not much time to get a grip on the story before another body falls to the stone (then, this is part of McBain's accurate portrayal of police-work: there's rarely time to get a grip on the story), and would make the revelation more plausible (not that it's implausible, but the number of corpses makes it a little melodramatic, perhaps...)
Another of the things I've always admired about McBain is his ability to make social comment almost without doing it. He never, ever, says anything directly, but there's actually quite a bit of anger here. You sometimes see it in his sarcasm, or in the veiled anger and small frustrations of the characters. He talks about America without really doing it - indeed, seems to try very hard to cover it up, but it's still there - in his asides, in his characters, in his criminals and their motives (particularly here - this killer's motive says a lot about a particular social blight that doesn't just affect America).. He's also - quite rightly - lauded for his picture of the shifting social background of his fictional city. This city could be any city in America, and McBain has, over 50 years, given us a grand and sweeping chronicle of the way America has changed, in so many ways.
If this truly is the final 87th Precinct novel, then it's a fine conclusion to the series. McBain takes his bow with a mystery as fun as his first, as seamlessly plotted as ever, as clever yet determined-not-to-seem-so as always. Without this particular Grand Master around, the crime fiction world is always going to be slightly less.
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I have not read any other Ed McBain books and enjoyed this as it brought to me a world I never knew existed outside of television cop shows. The characters are vividly drawn and the scenes colourful. It reminded me a bit of watching Kojak back in the 1970s but with more recent references. The story is good and the investigation/lives of characters interesting but I don't think I will be looking out for the older books. Good value and a good night time read even if a bit violent for bedtime reading.
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With the passing of Ed McBain, we lost one of the great ones.
If this were a review of Ed McBain's writing, his work would clearly receive five stars. His 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope novels have been landmarks in detective fiction for longer than most of us can remember.
My fervent wish is that Mr. McBain's literary heirs will consider authorizing his 87th Precinct stories to continue under a new author . . . first using any notes or partially completed manuscripts they find.
On to Fiddlers. The best part of this book is found in the many imaginative word plays on the title that Mr. McBain used throughout the book. If you like tongue in the cheek humor in your police procedurals, you'll love fiddling along with fiddlers in Fiddlers.
The personal stories of the detectives are more interesting than usual. Bert is still trying to recover from his faux pas with Sharyn. Steve finds a new problem at home.
The crime story is an interesting variation on the serial killer genre. I think you'll enjoy uncovering the motives behind the murders.
Mr. McBain fiddled with us in one other way -- he brings all the investigations forward successfully in one grand gesture . . . almost like a final curtain call.
The book's main weakness is that the negative events in the perp's life seem to be more than a little too much. Had Mr. McBain satisfied himself with more modest motives, I think this could have been a grand story.
If you have ever read any of the books in this distinguished series, you will make a mistake if you miss this one. It may be the last.
Adieu, Mr. McBain!
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2009
And so we come to the final chapter in the 87th Precinct story; brought to an end only by the death of its creator. This has been one of the most successful series in crime fiction, stretching for nearly fifty years.

Whilst he may have had some inspiration from certain work that preceded him there is no doubt that Ed McBain changed the world of crime fiction by popularising the police procedural. Without him dare I say it would we have Hill Street Blues, Homicide or the Wire. Or even James Ellroy?

Of course the series has changed over this time; the sex and language is more explicit. However, the endearing qualities are those that have maintained the continuity; the excellent recurring cast (both inside and outside the precinct) and the trademark humour.

This final piece is typical. A cracking story that keeps the reader gripped, some twists and turns along the way and quite a few laughs. It may not be up there with the best of the 87th but it is still miles better than most authors in this particular sub-genre produce.

McBain's style is deceptive; because it is light reading many will think it is not profound. Yet as ever he tackles big issues of race and gender as well as the internal politics of the Police Department.

It is sad to think that we will have no more Carella, Hawes and Meyer, but at least Ed left us with a very good book.
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on 10 September 2006
even by mcbains high standards in crime fiction this is a stand out work, you must make time for this which i believe to be his best ever. Ed Mcbain will be sadly missed by every fan of crime fiction
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on 21 January 2012
It's been 35 years since I read his first novel and more than a decade when I last read one of his books . It's a plain "cops and robbers" book , as good as they come . None of the complex writings of other authors with "superhuman" serial killers and/or "superhuman" cops . Just the plain nitty-gritty of an everyday search from everyday coppers . Both the good guys and the bad guys could be anyone of us . And that's what make McBain great . More than a few of today's crime authors could do better if they read a few of his books . A great author has passed away but his legacy will live forever . RIP Mr McBain .
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