Friday, July 08, 2005

Ed McBain/Evan Hunter

To me, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter was a perennial figure in crime fiction…even though I “discovered” him late in the game.
I came to know his body of work via the Matthew Hope series while searching for mystery novels set in Florida. It was only natural that the 87th Precinct collection became an effortless addition to my library. Over fifty books on the realistic 87th have been issued…a most healthy crop for readers to harvest.
Effortless is a pretty good way to describe how I found his writing. Loved the characters…and enjoyed how slowly they aged while all that was transpiring in the real world around them was up to date in “the big bad city.”
He certainly did a great deal to feature the city as a principal character. He may not have been the first to do that, but he sure picked up the flag and led the charge.
He was one of the creators of the police procedural, now a huge component of mystery and crime fiction.
In the awards category he was no Forest Gump. In 1998 he was the first American to receive a Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. In 1986 The Mystery Writers of America awarded him its Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. Well deserved indeed.
I especially enjoyed “Candyland” co written by Evan Hunter and Ed McBain…quite a concept. And, hard as it may be to pick one…I think “Money, Money, Money” is my favorite 87th Precinct novel. However, I still have a number of 87ths to go.
Ed/Evan has given me many pleasurable hours of reading…and, lucky for all of us, his books will live on.
While I did know it at the time (1955 at the ripe old age of 12) I was introduced to Evan Hunter when I viewed “Blackboard Jungle,” a film based on his novel. The motion picture also presented Bill Haley and “Rock Around the Clock” to me…showing me the way to a misspent youth.
Perhaps there is some synchronicity that Evan/Ed’s passing coincides with the 50th anniversary of the landmark movie and pop-culture-changing song.
Rest In Peace Evan Hunter/Ed McBain.
For perhaps the first time I agree with a column by the NYT’s Marilyn Stasio. Her obit is a good one.

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