Ed McBain concocts a brilliant and intricate thriller about a master criminal who haunts the city with cryptic passages from Shakespeare, directing the detectives of the 87th Precinct to a future crime -- if only they can figure out what he means.
The 87th Precinct gets a visit from one of the city's most accomplished criminals -- a thief known as the Deaf Man. Because he might be deaf. Or he might not. So little is known about the man who is harassing Detective Steve Carella with puzzling messages that it is hard to tell. But as soon as a pattern emerges, the detectives of the 87th are forced to hit the books and brush up on their Shakespeare -- because each new clue contains a line from one of his works. Unless they can crack the complicated riddles and beat the Deaf Man at his own cat-and-mouse game, someone is going to end up hurt, or something will be stolen -- or both. It's always so hard to tell with the Deaf Man.
Ed McBain brings his most intelligent and devious criminal back to the 87th Precinct with a richly plotted and literary crime.
Recovered from his wounds, the Deaf Man is bent on revenge and determined to rub the collective face of the 87th in the dust of his brilliance in McBain's latest zany romp. After striking first at the woman who betrayed him, the Deaf Man turns to taunting the 87th with cryptic hand-delivered messages (quotes from Shakespeare or anagrams) that are interpreted or misinterpreted with hilarious results. The saga of Fat Ollie's book, which began in Fat Ollie's Book (2003) and continued in The Frumious Bandersnatch (2004), resumes and promises to have a long life of its own. There are a lot of soap opera flourishes to the personal relationships of the 87th crew, and McBain milks them for humor and pathos. Steve Carella faces paying for the double wedding of his mother and his sister. Bert Kling knows his beautiful surgeon girlfriend is cheating on him. Cotton Hawes and his glamorous TV news girlfriend, Honey Blair, are under attack, but which one is the real target? It's vintage McBain, complete with pitch-perfect dialogue, subplots that thrust various precinct cops into the spotlight, a pace that encourages the reader to forget about dinner or a good night's rest, and a plot that teases and tantalizes from start to finish. . MWA Grand Master McBain was the first American to receive the British CWA's Diamond Dagger Award.