"Howlingly funny!" 

   Trent Lott is a piker compared with Oliver Wendell
Weeks, a loudmouthed detective in Ed McBain's
big-bad-city police procedurals who makes no bones
about his dislike of people who are black, Latino, Irish,
Italian, Jewish or "Muslim types." "Ollie was in fact an
equal opportunity bigot," McBain tells us in FAT OLLIE'S
BOOK (Simon & Schuster, $25), "but he did not
consider himself prejudiced in any way. He merely
thought of himself as discerning." It's easy to laugh at
Ollie because he's outrageously outspoken in his
prejudices; and because he's quick to discard them in
one-on-one relationships, it's also easy to like him.

   Ollie partners up with Detective Steve Carella of the
87th Precinct when a rabble-rousing political activist is
assassinated onstage at a civil rights rally, a situation
that McBain uses to contrast their procedural styles.
"For Carella, there was only a sense of loss. . . . Ollie
looked at the stage and saw only a puzzle that needed
to be solved."

   Ollie is on his own, though, in his search for the
manuscript copy of his novel, "Report to the
Commissioner," which was stolen from his car by a
transvestite hooker who thinks it's a real police
document that can make him a dishonest fortune. In
McBain's howlingly funny sendup, the novel is pure
drivel; but Ollie loved it, and darned if we don't
like him for that.

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 Evan Hunter
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