1/19/2003 
BARNES AND NOBLE ON "OLLIE" 
"The humor, suspense, and sheer storytelling élan that have marked this series from the beginning continue to make themselves felt."  
Perennial supporting player Ollie Weeks -- the
foul-mouthed, politically incorrect detective from the
adjacent 88th Precinct -- moves to center stage in Fat
Ollie's Book, the 52nd entry in Ed McBain's durable,
astonishingly resourceful series of 87th Precinct
mysteries. The result is one of the funniest, most
compulsively readable novels that McBain (alter ego of
Evan Hunter) has yet produced. This time out, Fat Ollie
succumbs to an unexpected burst of literary ambition
and writes an "authentic," hilariously bad cop novel
called Report to the Commissioner. While investigating
the murder of prominent City Council member Lester
Henderson, Ollie leaves the only copy of his manuscript
in the backseat of his car. When he returns to the car,
the manuscript, inevitably, is gone. From this point
forward, two interlocking plot threads dominate the
novel: The high-profile investigation into Henderson's
death, and Ollie's single-minded attempts to retrieve
his missing masterpiece. The Henderson homicide
eventually spills over into 87th Precinct territory,
embroiling McBain regulars Steve Carella and Bert
Kling in a sad, tawdry tale of sexual betrayal and
ungovernable rage. (McBain also introduces a
brand-new character, Officer Patricia Gomez, who
brings an unexpected touch of romance to Ollie's
misogynistic life.) Ollie, meanwhile, doggedly pursues
his manuscript, which is now in the hands of a
transvestite junkie who is unable to make the crucial
distinction between fiction and fact. Supplementing all
this is a lively subplot involving Bert Kling's former lover,
Eileen Burke, and her role in disrupting a $300,000
cocaine transaction. As always, McBain weaves his
various threads into a complex, satisfying whole. The
humor, suspense, and sheer storytelling élan that have
marked this series from the beginning continue to
make themselves felt. There are very few sure things in
literature or in life, but 87th Precinct novels -- which
continue, after more than 40 years, to expand the
possibilities of the police procedural -- make the cut.
Easily.

                                --  Bill Sheehan


 

 
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