McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific
crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 - 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino
in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during
World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and
Psychology. After a short stint teaching in a high school, McBain went
to work for a literary agency in New York, working with authors such as
Arthur C. Clarke and P.G. Wodehouse all the while working on his own
writing on nights and weekends. He had his first breakthrough in 1954
with the novel The Blackboard Jungle, which was published under his
newly legal name Evan Hunter and based on his time teaching in the
Perhaps his most popular work, the 87th Precinct series
(released mainly under the name Ed McBain) is one of the longest running
crime series ever published, debuting in 1956 with Cop Hater and
featuring over fifty novels. The series is set in a fictional locale
called Isola and features a wide cast of detectives including the
prevalent Detective Steve Carella.
McBain was also known as a
screenwriter. Most famously he adapted a short story from Daphne Du
Maurier into the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). In
addition to writing for the silver screen, he wrote for many television
series, including Columbo and the NBC series 87th Precinct (1961-1962),
based on his popular novels.
McBain was awarded the Grand Master
Award for lifetime achievement in 1986 by the Mystery Writers of America
and was the first American to receive the Cartier Diamond Dagger award
from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He passed away in
2005 in his home in Connecticut after a battle with larynx cancer. (From his author page on Amazon)
One of my favorites of Ed McBain's books was written under his real name Evan Hunter.LAST SUMMER is the story of three teenage friends - Sandy, David, and
Peter who are spending a summer vacation on an island. They are a little out of control, stealing beer, experimenting with the life they are headed for, running naked through the woods. Their tightness as a group, a nearly perfect thing with Sandy taking the lead in almost everything, is tested when a new girl comes on the scene. It is their last summer of innocence and Rhoda, with her neediness and nerdiness, brings out the worst in them. Sandy uses Rhoda to test her mastery of the boys. An interesting novel that made an interesting movie.
Of course the books set in the 87th Precinct made McBain an eagerly awaited author for me. I think I read almost every book in the series. I was never as attached to Matthew Hope as I was to Steve Carella. IMDB lists all of the films McBain had a hand in. His website
gives a complete list of his books and it's astounding.
EPITAPHS by Bill Pronzini
Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series of books along with countless other mysteries, westerns, anthologies, short stores and horror novels. You can find him here.
Epitaphs is one of my favorite Nameless novels for a number of reasons.
For one thing this is one of Pronzini's finest depictions of Nameless'
painfully complex relationship with his old partner Eberhardt. The
anger, the distrust makes you feel sorry for both of them.
Then there's the even more serious problem of his friend and lover Kerry not wanting to marry him.
The novel is also a fine depiction of how Nameless' North Beach is
changing and is being refurbished not only commercially but also
sociologically. Proninzi writes with real power about how the Italian
heritage he obviously reveres is also suffering because of the changes.
Then there's the story and it's one of Pronzini's most skillfully
conceived and maneuvered. Gianna Fornessi is the name of the beautiful
granddaughter who is missing. A mutual friend of Namless' asks him to
help the grandfather who fears for her.
When he finds where she lives Nameless also realizes that something is
wrong. She came from a humble area of North Beach but lives in a style
fitting a much more moneyed life.
From this hook Pronzini takes us through enough ruses, masques, dead
ends and mysterious but enigmatic clues to fill three or four average
novels. And he does so with prose so evocative of both place and passion
that you race to the end.
One of Bill Pronzini's finest novels and I don't have to say much more than that, do I?
Third series, ed Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas
Steve Lewis/William F. Deeck,
, H.P. Lovecraft
Richard S. Wheeler