Friday, January 3, 2014

Goldilocks--Book Review

Ed McBain is the author of the 87th precinct novels called-- for a reason I cannot remember-- "police procedurals." They are mysteries that are solved by the cops of the 87th precinct in a town that is not called New York, but is.  Usually the novels involve more than one crime that are, to some extent, linked.  Not always, but often enough, I enjoy reading these Procedurals. (Kiss is a particularly good one).

I was in the library before the end of the year looking for things to read during the break. I saw a McBain novel called Goldilocks.  On the cover the publicity read something like "by Ed McBain author of the 87th precinct novels."

 So I picked up Goldilocks and checked it out.

McBain is a prolific author.  He also goes by Evan Hunter, author of Blackboard Jungle and Last Summer--a novel I read in the mid 70s and still remember the ending--vividly. If you read it, you would remember the ending too.  What I had forgotten when I picked up Goldilocks is that McBain is also the author of another series featuring a lawyer named Matthew Hope.

Each of the Hope novels has a title from a nursery rhyme or fairy tale.  I'd a read of couple and found them to be just okay. If I had put two and two together and realized that Goldilocks was a Hope novel and the publisher was just putting out advertising that this book was by the same author who writes the 87th precinct novels, I might not have taken the book out.

I am glad I did not put two and two together. This was a good read and, now that I am done, I will likely take out another in the near future.

In this one, Hope is called to the scene of a crime by a client.  Someone has murdered the client's second wife and his two young children by this spouse.  Hope asks the client point blank if he is the killer and the client says he is not.  The case is complex.  The client's first wife and children from that union are part of the story and all have a beef. The client does not have a solid alibi. There's a mistress involved, a confession that makes no sense, and a surprising affair.   Meanwhile Hope himself is mired in a complicated relationship that mirrors the issues related to his client's case.  To make matters more intriguing is that some biographical notes from McBain/Hunter make one wonder if the author's life has not been complicated by similar considerations.

Woke up in the middle of the night when I was about done with this book and a bunch of notions were banging around in my head, several of which were fueled by the story.

It is a short book and an easy read, but the issues are not simple.  If you like whodunits, this is a good one and it may make you think of your own behavior and potential complications.

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