It should have been the night that launched a new pop idol. Tamar Valparaiso is young and beautiful, with the body and voice of an angel, and the stage is set for her to launch her debut album, Bandersnatch, on a luxury yacht in the heart of the city. But halfway through her performance, while the partygoers look on helplessly, masked men drag Tamar off the stage and into a waiting speedboat.
Detective Steve Carella is just showing up for the graveyard shift when news of the kidnapping comes in. Working disjointedly with a Joint Task Force that calls itself "The Squad," Carella and the men and women of the Eight-Seven must find Tamar before time -- or indeed her very life -- runs out.
In this brilliant look at the music industry, Ed McBain once again combines his mastery of the form with the fast-paced dialogue and intricate plotting that have become his signature.
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Simon & Schuster
January 02, 2004
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Excerpt from The Frumious Bandersnatch by Ed McBain
She came cruising downriver like the city personified, all bright lights and big bad music, banners and flags flying from bowsprits and railings, a hundred and sixty-three feet of sleek power and elegant design. It was costing Barney Loomis $6,000 to charter the yacht and its staff of twenty. The additional cost of catering food and drink for a hundred and twelve music industry movers and shakers was close to $12,000. Add the cost of the ten-piece orchestra, and a 15% service charge, and the 8.25% city tax, and Loomis figured the launch of Bandersnatch would cost Bison Records something like twenty-five grand overall. But it would be worth ten times that amount if the CD jumped to the top of the charts.
The boat, or the ship, or the vessel, or whatever the people at Celebrity Yacht Cruises had called it when Loomis was negotiating for the bash, had picked up the assorted glittery guests at Pier 27 West, just off the new marina complex in the renovated Overlook Zone of the city. The boat, or the ship --
Loomis liked to think of it as a launch.
"We'll charter a launch for the launch!" he'd told Tamar, and she'd clapped her hands in excitement -- well, hell, she was still only twenty, she reacted like a teenager more often than not.
The official launch, then, of the new album had started at six P.M. with cocktails on the bridge deck of the launch -- he loved that pun -- where bistro tables were festooned with roses that picked up the red of the mask the beast was wearing on the album cover, and where the mahogany-topped bar seemed haphazardly strewn with giveaway CDs and tapes. The covers on each version of the album showed Tamar as skimpily dressed as she was in the video that had aired simultaneously last night on MTV, VH1, BET, and WU2. Wearing a shredded white tunic that seemed to have been torn forcefully from her legs, she struggled in the clutches of a muscular black dancer wearing an oversized red mask that made him look like some sort of fire-breathing mythical beast -- the Bandersnatch of the title song -- who brought her close to his gaping jaws, while she tried to fend him off, creamy white breasts tumbling virtually free of her equally tattered top.
"Like in King Kong," Loomis had told her.
"Like in King who " she'd asked, never having seen either of the movies -- well, she was only twenty.
A mahogany stairway swept the assembled guests down to the main deck salon where the passed hors d'oeuvres included raw oysters (even though this was already the fourth day of May, which was not an "R" month when oysters were supposed to be safe, according to the "Oysters 'R' in Season" legend), and chanterelle-and-lobster risotto cakes with white truffle créme fraéche and chives, and salmon tartare on scallion potato chips. For dinner, there was first a mesclun salad with walnuts, Stilton, and cranberries, and then a choice of either grilled tarragon chicken or seared mustard salmon, both served with steamed asparagus. For dessert, the chef had prepared chocolate p ' t ' with vanilla bean sauce and raspberries. Merlot and Chardonnay were served with the meal. A champagne toast was planned for later this evening, after Tamar sang the title song of the new album.