It is Christmas in the city, but it isn't the giving season. A retired Gulf War pilot, a careless second-story man, a pair of angry Mexicans, and an equally shady pair of Secret Service agents are in town after a large stash of money, and no one is interested in sharing.
The detectives at the 87th are already busy for the holidays. Steve Carella and Fat Ollie Weeks catch the squeal when the lions in the city zoo get an unauthorized feeding of a young woman's body. And then there's a trash can stuffed with a book salesman carrying a P-38 Walther and a wad of big bills.
Evan Hunter has passed the century mark in books published and, writing as Ed McBain, has started on his second half-century (this is the 51st in the series) with the 87th Precinct. One of the most recognizable and reliable brand names in the mystery field, he's the only American author to be elected a Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster and to win Britain's Diamond Dagger award. Yet like Steve Carella, who has reached only the age of 40 despite his 45 years as an adult character, McBain's writing remains young, vigorous, sharp and entertaining. Christmas season in Isola is no holiday for the cops of the 87th, and a dizzying collection of small-time crooks, terrorists, drug runners, hit men and feds collide on the territory shared by the 87th and the 88th precincts. Fittingly, it is Carella, introduced in the very first 87th Precinct novel (Cop Hater, 1956), who takes the lead in this case. He gets an unlikely assist from the 88th's Fat Ollie Weeks, who plays both (expected) comic foil and (unexpected) hero. The minor characters are sketched as vividly as a Hirschfeld drawing, and McBain's mordant humor keeps the violence somewhat balanced. In addition to the bullets, which fly rather freely, lions, bombs, cattle prods and ice picks all play a role. Adroit scene-setting, the pitch-perfect dialogue for which he is famous and streamlined presentation of a Byzantine plot make the pages turn quickly. McBain's Money is a sure bet. Agent, Jane Gelfman. (Sept. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Simon & Schuster
February 28, 2002
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Excerpt from Money, Money, Money by Ed McBain
The two men on the narrow dirt strip were both wearing white cotton pants and shirts. They stood beside the Piper Warrior III in broad daylight, waiting for Cass to hand over the locked aluminum suitcase. She gave it to the larger of the two men, and watched as they walked to a dark blue Mercedes-Benz glistening in the sun alongside the cornfield. The doors on either side slammed shut into the stillness, and then there was only the sound of insects racketing in the scraggly woods nearby.
Today was Pearl Harbor Day, the seventh of December, though it didn't much feel like it here in Guenerando, Mexico. Cass stood beside the airplane, sweating in the afternoon heat. She assumed there was money in the aluminum suitcase. She further assumed they were counting it over there in the Benz. She guessed that the cargo they'd be turning over in exchange for the money would be dope -- either heroin or cocaine. She didn't care much either way. She stood in the shade of a spindly eucalyptus for almost forty minutes. At last, the two men came out of the Benz and handed the aluminum suitcase back to her. The one with the mustache was grinning. He handed her a long white business envelope with a rubber band around it. The other one watched solemnly, expectantly.
"Open it, por favor," the one with the mustache said.
She slipped the rubber band over her wrist, opened the envelope. There was a whole bunch of hundred-dollar bills in it.
"Count them," the serious one said.
She counted them.
There seemed to be ten thousand dollars in that envelope.
"For me?" she asked.
"Para ti," the one with the mustache said.
Damn if they weren't tipping her!
"Well thanks," she said. "Muchas gracias."