Review: Killer’s Edge, by Ed McBain

The 7th book in McBain’s groundbreaking series of police procedurals — a genre he basically invented — seems to be having a bit of fun. In previous books, McBain’s introductions and afterwords, written many decades later, explain how his publishers did not want Detective Steve Carella to be killed off, nor did they want him to be the main attraction in the series. Carella was seen as too much the good guy — happily married to a wife he adored, the now-pregnant Teddy. So in this book, under instructions from the publishers to focus on the other members of the 87th precinct detective squad, Carella hardly appears. And yet, in the opening scene, a woman enters the detectives’ room with a pistol and a bottle of nitroglycerin (or is it?) saying that she has come to kill Carella. Except that he’s not there, and barely appears in the book at all until near the end. All the other cops — an ethnically very diverse group, reflecting the reality of the fictional city based on New York — get their moment in the sun, as does a Puerto Rican woman. There are bits of Yiddish and Spanish thrown in, references to Ireland and Italy, and even one cop who self identifies as a WASP. Though written more than sixty years ago, the book still reads well and the tension — punctuated by violence — is palpable.