McBain delivers a scorcher for the series, emphatically leaving the last book's city fable indulgences behind. This one is 87th Precinct to the core; short, hard hitting and full of character.
A multiple shooting at a book store has every cop in the precinct searching for the killer as one of the fallen belongs to one of their own. Carella and Meyer lead the investigation as they delve into the backgrounds of all of the victims looking for a lead. Kling, Wilis and Brown aid with the leg work.
Written at the start of the 1960s, long before any State legalised abortion, McBain drags the thorny subject into the light as various closets are emptied of their skeletons.
Loss and grief are explored thoughtfully too, stripped of any histrionics, deepening the characters by shared familiar emotions.
The little linguistic puzzle set by one of the victim's deathbed words kept me busy for a good five seconds. But you can't really blame Carella and co for being distracted.