Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ten Plus One

The city is plagued with a sniper delivering a .308 slug to the heads of a disparate bunch of victims. Carella and Meyer don't want to deal with a sniper; a perp who can kill from the shadows with almost supernatural precision and impunity. This one is a strongish entry to the series that is only slightly let down by the wrap-up. McBain creates some wonderfully vivid support characters populating the list of possible targets/suspects, not least the gag writer so mentally scarred by a wartime service as a sniper he can never laugh at a joke even though he's a master at constructing them. Although the psychology of being a sniper is glanced at I felt the true heart of the story belonged to how lives can be so indelibly ruined by events that happen during the wildness of youth. There are also two interrogations, one by a neighbouring precinct and another by Carella and Meyer that stand out, both for being brutal, one on a physical level and the other one a psychological one. The disregard the bulls have for a reformed criminal is both sad and shocking but also in keeping with the era and the job. Carella and Meyer's interrogation is purely psychological but no less brutal considering they employ every double teaming trick in the book to try to crack a clearly mentally damaged suspect. Although there is a clear distinction between good cops and bad cops in the story it's a bit of a shock to see Carella and Meyer come up with a gut evaluation that is completely at odds with my own but I guess that's mainly because I'm not on the job.
There's a couple of amusing scenes with Bert Kling and one of the victim's relatives. Is that going somewhere? Who can tell? That's part of the fun of the 87th.