Ed McBain, Give the Boys a Great Big Hand
Copyright © Ed McBain, 1960
The 11th story in the 87th Precinct series. I've generally enjoyed these books a lot, but this was a disappointment. Partly because the blurb on the back cover led me to expect--would have led anyone, I think, to expect--a very different sort of book. "A man dressed in black is leaving blood-red severed hands all over the city." Not exactly. There’s one murder in the book, and the hands are not exactly spread “all over the city.” And, as 87th Precinct books go, there was a lot of slack time in the investigation (although, as it’s been a long time since I read one, that might just be normal). And, for no reason that I could discern, McBain throws in a long—3 pages (156-158 in this edition of the book)—passage in which he says, “The city is a woman” over and over again, in different ways. Those 3 pages did not move the story, did not illuminate any of the characters, did nothing but take up space. Still, I like the characters (mostly), and, if the outcome of the investigation is somewhat anti-climactic, it’s not a bad idea to revisit the 87th once in a while.