Review: Lady Killer, by Ed McBain

This, the eighth book in the legendary 87th Precinct series, was written over the course of just nine days, according to author Ed McBain. It’s a concise, tense account of just a few hours in the lives of the detectives who have to find a man who has threatened to kill “The Lady” at eight o’clock that night. Because it’s a police procedural, a genre of crime fiction that McBain basically invented, it’s full of the painstaking detail that would be involved for a real police force — though one has to wonder if the simple arrival of a threatening note at a police station would trigger such a large scale manhunt. As always in these books, weather plays an important role, and as the cops pound the hot streets for hours, walking up steaming staircases in tenements, one feels real relief when finally air conditioning appears at one point in the story. The mystery of who is the intended target (“The Lady”) is revealed at the end, and you’ll be the judge of whether it is convincing. For me, not so much.