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Publisher's Summary

One of the most popular suspense novels of all time. A well-dressed man stalks the high-class neighborhoods of New York City. He is armed with an ice axe. His victims are strangers. And one cop, Captain Ed Delaney must solve a series of bizarre, gruesome murders that defy logic or method. This shocking story has captured the imaginations of millions like no other modern thriller.

Prolong the suspense: follow the further crime-solving career of Edward X. Delaney.
©1973 Lawrence Sanders (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Breathtakingly exciting." (Rolling Stone)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • 9S
  • 06-13-11

Evening with an old friend!

I read THE FIRST DEADLY SIN as a college student in the late 80's. Sanders hooked me with the irascible Captain Edward X. Delaney's method of catching the bad guy and his gourmet sandwiches. Having read the book I can say that Marc Vietor brings Delaney to life, giving the listener the feel of watching Delaney work, as if everything is viewed through a camera. The first several hours of this audio book contains no murder, not even a hint of what's to come. All that time is devoted to a thorough look at Daniel Blank-his life and his strange sexual perversions. This setup is important, but when murder comes, it is swift and violent. Delaney is referred to by one of his acquaintance as a "bookkeeper" which is exactly what he is. He collects data, tiny pieces, reviews it and enters the information in his journal of the crime. Adding everything up and coming up with balance. Yes, a bookkeeper. And a great sandwich maker.

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Best of the best, for so many reasons.....

I was glued to this book for all 27 hours -- and the funny thing is, having read the book at least three times since it came out in 1973, I knew exactly what was going to happen. Clearly, it wasn't the element of suspense that got me -- even though there was still plenty of that. In a book this long, lots of things happen that I'd forgotten, or glossed over, before. Then too, listening to a book as compared to reading it, there are always things that seem new, that I hadn't considered before. But the big delight in listening, again, was just watching it all unfold -- seeing Edward X. Delaney plot, plan and scheme to take down the evil Daniel Blank for whom, ultimately, it's hard not to feel some level of compassion. The staid but quirky Delaney is on a par with the world's most memorable detectives -- Holmes, Piorot, Whimsey, and even Columbo, of whom he reminds me in some vague fashion (probably his absolute doggedness, in refusing to ever consider giving up or even backing down.) Bottom line, I loved this book -- absolutely loved it. Now I'm looking forward to all the rest of the "sins", wishing, for the first time in my life, that there were more than seven.

38 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandy
  • Coralville, IA, United States
  • 07-06-11

Great Writer and Great Narrator

I love this book and plan on purchasing the rest of the series. The writer and narrator are both excellent - a really great match. I am sorry that I didn't discover Lawrence Sanders sooner. But even if a book is wonderful, it is difficult to stay focused and listen unless the narrator is effective. There have been many times in the past that I stopped listening to a book because the narrator's delivery was distracting. However, Marc Vietor is SERIOUSLY good. I will start watching for his name as narrator, as who the narrator is has a big impact on the audio books that I purchase. The first thing that I used to do is sort by new books that were narrated by Scott Brick. Now I will add Marc Vietor to that short list and search for books that he narrated as well. If any of you authors are reading this, you should take a listen and see how talented this new (to me) narrator is.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Excellent series, highly recommend!

I first read this book over 20 years ago as a very young adult and was instantly hooked. I've looked for the Edward X. Delaney series every so often here on Audible and other audiobook stores with no luck. I was thrilled to finally see them here and I was not disappointed with the audio version of the book. Narrator was very good, brought the Captain to life. I can't wait to listen to the other books in the series.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enjoyed it very much

I read this when it first came out and enjoyed it. Thirty years later I listened to it and enjoyed it just as much. Not high action, just a good detective novel with characters you can't help but care about. It does seem a little slow at places in the beginning when details bog it down but everything builds up to a great finish.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Carol
  • Groton, CT, United States
  • 06-03-11

A Winding Tale of Mystery

Although this book was orginially written 1973, it's relevance persists. The winding mystery can be compared to a beautiful winding road with many forks, not knowing which way it will proceed and when. It is fascinating to see how the story unfolds, how little evidence evolves in surmounting evidence and the ultimate conclusion. It is gripping and most definitely worth the time it took to enjoy it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Ed
  • Saint Augustine, FL, United States
  • 08-03-12

A first class thriller

Of the more than 200 titles I've listened to through Audible, mostly in the mystery/thriller genre, The First Deadly Sin has made my Top Ten List. It doesn't matter that it was set in the 1970s. The plot, character development and flow of the story made me forget this was a 25-hour book. I could have listened for another 25 hours. If I had one criticism it was that the conclusion was somewhat anticlimactic. But this criticism is a minor one. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Jeffery Deaver based several of his "evil characters" in the Lincoln Rhyme series with Sanders' mountain-climbing Daniel Blank. If you're tempted, as I was, to watch the movie of the same name (Sinatra's last starring role as Delaney), forget it. The movie is horrible and probably the worst adaptation of any book in the history of the world. I'm now almost finished with The Second Deadly Sin and will likely continue with the series.

49 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • tallevast, FL, United States
  • 08-16-12

Not for the weak of heart Or weak of mind

My taste in books usually leans toward current events, but I am very glad I took the chance. It wasn't out dated. This story was good in any generation. This book is set in the early Seventies when the book was actually written & It was recently made into an audio book. I have to give this book a 5 star rating without question. If I read this in the eighties - I probably would have been even more shocked then I was. This was a lot more story then it was a "Who done it"............... I enjoyed the entire ride. The narrating was great. The characters were interesting & I thought Marc Vietor voice and style made you feel like you were part of the scene. The story was realistic. The forensics of the Seventies & Dectection process was a lot more entriguing then a CSI type story. It was pretty twisted. A little sick. I loved it =0) I am pretty sure I will get The Second Deadly Sin in the near future.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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If you like crime and mystery - get this one!

What did you love best about The First Deadly Sin?

Well written, vivid quirky characters, terrific use of language. I couldn't wait to hear more.

What about Marc Vietor’s performance did you like?

The writing was great, but I swear I could see the characters through his voice. Outstanding.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - I really enjoyed savoring it.

Any additional comments?

I listen to many, many audiobooks - this was one of the best. Haunting.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 08-28-11

If you've always loved the Sins, this is better.

First you need to realize that this novel was written in 1973 and may seem out of date. This book was my first introduction to Sanders when I read it in my late teens. I loved the Captain Edward X Delaney character and have waited for the Sins to come out in audiobook form forever. If you loved the novels back then, you'll love the audio version even more. The pace of the book is slow and the suspense is not going to kill you. You know from the beginning who the killer is. So why is this a good read? The characters are three-demensional, the setting plops you right down in the middle of New York and doesn't let you budge, and you have the first person view from not one, but two characters. Sanders spends a lot of time on each one for long periods of time, he doesn't switch back and forth much. If you love Dave Robicheaux (and I do), you'll love Delaney and want to read more and more. My taste in fiction runs the gamut: I love the Robicheaux novels and have read every one. I've read everything Stephen King has ever written. I love the novels Geek Love and Perfume, both Anne Rice and Ayn Rand, and the audiobook Middlesex is one of my top audiobooks (along w/ The Green Mile, Lonesome Dove, and The Life Of Pi). If you liked Sins and Delaney back in the day, you will not regret the audio.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter Odukwe
  • 12-17-14

Brilliant story and a must listen to Audiobook..

An excellent listen I will be getting the others in the series Worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • sarahmoose2000
  • 06-30-11

Psychological Trip

Some of this was a bit full on with sex and I fumbled to turn down the volume while doing the ironing incase folk wondered what I was listening to, but the rest of the story was very gritty and detailed from a detective standpoint.

A respected captain is devastated to learn his wife is ill and toys with the idea of retiring so he can care for her; meanwhile a serial killer is on the loose, the violence and frequency of his murders escalating at an alarming rate. With no official help, the captain takes matters into his own hands.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacqueline
  • 10-10-17

Great experience.

Excellent, good pacey narrative, wordy in descriptions at times, very enjoyable listening, would definitely recommend.

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  • Dennis T.
  • 08-18-16

Lawrence Sanders

Well, if it's Lawrence Sanders, it's a must. The reader of this audiobook is superb. I was there in the hospital, East End Avenue, my old street. I have to say get this audiobook!

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  • hannah sanderson
  • 02-23-16

Grippingly Told

This book is a good for looking into the mind of a killer and the author has very interesting and gripping way of telling it.
The story is split between two people, and I'd say the side of the captain is much stronger and more interesting, I often found myself waiting for his bit of the story whilst listening to that of the killer.
Still a good listen.

  • Overall
  • J
  • 11-08-12


This has some uncomfortable content but it is so well written with good characters you can't help but be carried along.

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  • Timekeeper
  • 10-09-12

An unanticipated disappointment ...

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Sanders' dark work when it was first published nearly 40 years ago and was greatly looking forward to listening to its audio equivalent.

Sadly, my perception of the story has clearly changed over the years as it quickly became a bore.

  • Overall
  • knittyboot
  • 06-04-11

"modern thriller" ha ha ha!

This is a very weird book; I didn't really like it but was completely fascinated by it. It was described as a modern thriller and maybe it was cutting edge when it was written in 1973 but it hasn't aged well. In it we can glimpse a world where hairy, sweaty, white men ruled the planet; its casual racism, sexism and homophobia are at times quite breathtaking. Herein lies part of it's fascination for me plus a certain amount of amusement at the thought of where all these hairy, sweaty, white men were heading. The book is full of long and for me boring internal dialogues where the two lead characters muse over their motivations and philosophies. The cop, I think, was meant to be a sympathetic character but if anything I found him to be more amoral and a lot scarier that the killer. The book is somewhat reminiscent of Ed Mc Bain's work but without the humor, charm and basic decency of his characters.
The other cause of fascination was the examination of detection methods before forensics, computers or profiling. It left me wondering how they ever caught anyone. Having said all that I may listen to this book again; whenever political correctness gets on my nerves or the world seems hostile and violent I think it would be reassuring to listen to and realize how far we've come. Plus the soporific delivery of the narrator has done wonders curing my occasional bouts of insomnia.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • andrew
  • 06-18-11


a good read, i little bit too dark for me, although looked forward to the next installment i had time to hear.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful