03 February 2011

Even the Wicked by Ed McBain

Finishing this book combines two of my challenges: the TBR and the book with a word meaning “evil” in the title in the What’s in a Name challenge.

Genre: Thriller
Year of publication: 1958
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA; contemporary.

News commentator Zachary Blake returns to Martha’s Vineyard one year after his wife drowned in the sea off the island’s shore. Ostensibly there for a holiday, he is really investigating whether there is any truth in a letter he has received which claims his wife’s death was not accidental.

SPOILERS ahead.

This is the first McBain book I read that isn’t part of the 87th Precinct series. In terms of quality it is not on par with those Precinct books I have read, but it’s not bad either. Mediocre is more like it. The writing and characters are, as always in McBain, well done, but I have issues with the story, especially the TSTL behaviour of the hero, and I don’t just mean bringing his daughter with him when setting out to investigate a potential murder on his own, but really just about everything he does. His behaviour does create some nicely thrilling scenes, but I am sure the story could have been made thrilling without having him act like he only has half a brain. Additionally, there is a highly unconvincing romantic thread in the narrative, which seems to have been included a) to add a few pages to the book and b) to provide Zach with a helper in the final showdown with the bad guys. 2 stars.

2 comments:

George said...

The early Ed McBain is uneven. He was writing crime fiction and science fiction to try to find his niche. McBain finally found his element when he perfected the police procedural series in the 87th Precinct novels. His writing becomes uneven again in the later Matthew Hope series.

Irene said...

Haven't read Ed McBain for a long time. Thanks for your review.