With crooks to cuff and pimps to put behind bars, detectives Carella and Meyer of the 87th Precinct simply don’t have the time or patience to deal with a prank caller - even if he has phoned murder threats to two dozen local shop owners. What they fail to realize, however, is they aren’t dealing with a heckler who’s ringing round for kicks but rather a modern-day Moriarty known only as the Deaf Man - and these phone calls are just his first move in a calculated scheme to pull off the bank robbery of the decade. Further calls darken a lovely spring with suspicion and fear, before a brutal murder whips things into a frenzy, prompting Carella and Meyer to scour the town for clues to the Deaf Man’s identity. As the detectives grasp at a few tenuous threads of the larger plot, those targeted by the calls clamor for the cops to slam the case closed before more of them wind up stiffs. If they can find him in time, the 87th Precinct promises to shut down the Deaf Man for good.
OK, now I have a problem. After giving all the previous books in the 87th Precinct series 5 stars, I don't know where to go next. 5++?
I really enjoyed this excursion, as Ed McBain continues brings different characters to the fore in this classic ensemble series. And there are some true laugh-out-loud moments (such as the diversion into defining a "slob").
On the audio version narrated by Dick Hill: others disagree, I know, but I reckon Dick Hill is brilliantly cast for this series. He really delivers what I think is a stellar performance that is absolutely in keeping with the sensibilities of the material. Yes, he goes over the top sometimes. But so does McBain!