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Fiddlers: A Novel of the 87th Precinct    by Ed McBain order for
by Ed McBain
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is McBain's 55th in his hugely popular 87th Precinct series, which I've enjoyed for many decades. Sadly, it's also the last episode, since the author died this year.

It begins with the shooting (in the face) of a blind, fifty-something fiddler, and continues with the murders of other assorted middle aged and elderly folk. Various detectives backtrack through the lives of each of the victims, fitting in a few drug busts en route, and uncovering sordid aspects to all their pasts and some of their present existences. In addition to the Vietnam vet fiddler, there's a Beauty Plus sales rep, a professor of literature, a priest, and an old lady walking her dog. In parallel with the detectives' investigations and daily lives, McBain takes us on a ride with the killer. In between shootings, he hangs out with Reggie, a young hooker hired from the Sophisticates escort service, and spends lavishly.

As always, McBain gives us both cops and perps in 3D. 87th detectives have their own issues to deal with - Kling's relationship with Dr. Sharyn Cooke is on a knife edge; Carella's teen daughter April is hanging out with a bad crowd; Ollie meets his cop girlfriend Patricia's family; and Cotton starts an affair with an attractive older woman. Fans have stayed with all of them through births and deaths, crises and celebrations, so that they seem like family. And the author makes it hard not to feel a little for the perp - though cold and ruthless, he has his reasons to want to clear accounts. Don't miss this last of a superb series.

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