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A Novel of the 87th Precinct
By Ed McBain
Thorndike Press - Large Print Edition (2006)
ISBN: 0-7862-8101-4
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - March 13, 2006

Ed McBain is the King of Police Procedural mysteries, and his 87th Precinct series set the tone for all police procedurals to follow. In Fiddlers, the last book that McBain wrote before his death, he set the detectives of the 87th Precinct on the trail of a fiendish serial killer that kills his victims by shooting them in the face. The first victim, a blind violinist, is just the first in a long stream of seemingly unrelated victims. As the violinist was killed withing the confines of the 87th Precinct, so it falls upon this Precinct to take the lead in investigating all related murders, even those that technically fall outside of their purview.

The bodies pile up quickly in this story, and it is hard for Detective Steve Carella and his buddies to catch this maniac. To complicate matters, this killer is not your normal serial killer and he's breaking all the rules. For instance, most serial killers go after a specific type of victim. However, in this case, none of the victims seem to have anything in common. While most serial killers confine their kills to one geographical area, this one is hunting down his victims, apparently at random, and all over the city. Worse, his kill rate is much higher than most serial killers who tend to space their kills over a long period. This one seems to be trying to do in as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time!

Fiddlers is a little different from most of the books in this series, because in addition to telling the tale from the viewpoint of the detectives investigating the case, McBain also lets us look into the mind of the killer and examine what motivates him. This additional perspective does give away some of the clues in the story, but it is still enjoyable watching Carella and his team track down the killer.

With more than fifty 87th Precinct novels under his belt, McBain has his plotting and story lines down pat. Fiddlers is a fast paced, diverting read that brings you up-to-date with many of the repeat characters that have graced this series. The dialogue is sharp; the characters realistic, and the suspense is palpable. Fiddlers carries on the high standards McBain set for the 87th Precinct series, and it will enthrall fans of the series. However, if you've never read any of the 87th Precinct stories before, you may want to start with some of the early books as this one presupposes that you are already familiar with the main characters and their backstory.

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