CriminOlly thinks: Sub par 87th Precinct mystery is bolstered by some strong character based storylines. 3/5
Title: The Frumious Bandersnatch | Author: Ed McBain | Series: 87th Precinct #53 | Publisher: Orion | Pages: 304 | Publication date: 2003 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: No
This, the 53rd of the 87th Precinct books is somewhat disappointing. It’s certainly tense, but lacks the humour and psychological insight that characterises the best if McBain’s work. It’s also, dare I say it, a bit long at around 300 pages. Given that there is just the single plot line in this one, a more slender volume might have been a better read.
McBain returns to the music biz in this one, as he did a few books ago in ‘Mischief’. This time the story revolves around the kidnapping of a young female singer on the brink of super-stardom. Carella gets pulled into the investigation, along side a supposedly elite but actually quite rubbish specialist squad. Whilst there are a few twists along the way, there’s little mystery and the linear plot drags a little. After the highly amusing ‘Fat Ollie’s Book’, it all feels a bit lacking in spark and fun.
Ollie Weeks does get to make an appearance, with a sub plot about his personal life, and his scenes are entertaining, as are those featuring Cotton Hawes and reporter Honey Blair.
The main story is downbeat and a bit nasty. There’s a lot of discussion of rape and race, in response to the singer’s promo video for her new single, which features her being attacked by a black dancer. It’s all a bit rambling though, and lacks the punch that McBain’s writing on such things sometimes has.
More interesting is Carella’s ongoing musings on his Italian heritage and his place in the police department as a result. As in other recent books he feels a bit more fallible and human in this tale than he once did. He’s always seemed to be McBain’s idealised version of himself. This late introduction of weakness, just as McBain’s body was failing him as his health deteriorated, is an interesting addition to the books.
The kidnapping was audacious, and there were plenty of witnesses…
But no one attending the dazzling launch party for up-and-coming pop idol Tamar Valparaiso knew what they were seeing when, halfway through her performance, masked men whisked the sexy young singer off a luxury yacht and into a waiting speedboat. Now, the evening that was supposed to send Tamar’s debut album, “Bandersnatch, ” skyrocketing with a million-dollar promotional campaign has instead kicked off a terrifying countdown for Steve Carella and the detectives of the 87th Precinct. Time is their enemy in the race to find Tamar’s abductors — before the rising star is extinguished forever
Content Warning: Racism, sexual violence
Tolerance Warning: All good