CriminOlly thinks: All the usual elements are here, but an unengaging mystery lets down the 50th book in the 87th Precinct series. 3/5
Title: The Last Dance | Author: Ed McBain | Series: 87th Precinct #50 | Publisher: New English Library | Pages: 278 | ISBN: 9780340728062 | Publication date: 1st December 2000 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: No
Even when McBain isn’t at his best, he’s still very good. With that in mind I really struggled to rate ‘The Last Dance’. It’s not as good as most of the entries in the series, so I wanted to give it a rating that differentiated if. But what would I rate it if I’d picked it up fresh and it had a different name on the cover. I think it would get a 4, but I’ve given it a 3 on the basis that I can’t always rate the 87th books 4 or 5.
This one sees Carella and Meyer investigating what at first seems to be an unexplained death, then something more, then something else again. Fat Ollie Weeks puts in an appearance, and is good value as ever, as the investigation moves to the seamier side of the city.
What lets this one down for me is that the mystery just isn’t that compelling or interesting. The incidental detail is as good as ever though, with neat forensics work, cracking dialogue and some great humour. Fat Ollie continues to develop nicely as a character, and the ongoing story of Carella dealing with the death of his father is nicely handled.
Not the best then, but still a good read.
In this city, you can get anything done for a price. If you want someone’s eyeglasses smashed, it’ll cost you a subway token. You want his fingernails pulled out? His legs broken? You want him hurt so bad he’s an invalid his whole life? You want him…killed? Let me talk to someone. It can be done. The hanging death of a nondescript old man in a shabby little apartment in a meager section of the 87th Precinct is nothing much in this city, especially to detectives Carella and Meyer. But everyone has a story, and this old man’s story stood to make some people a lot of money. His story takes Carella, Meyer, Brown, and Weeks on a search through Isola’s seedy strip clubs and to the bright lights of the theater district. There they discover an upcoming musical with ties to a mysterious drug — and a killer who stays until the last dance.
Content Warning: Racism
Tolerance Warning: All good