Sunday, 28 October 2012

HE WHO HESITATES by Ed McBain (1965)

He Who Hesitates by Ed McBain
Pan UK edition 1979
Roger Broome has come from Carey, up in the sticks near Huddleston, to the big city, as he does every Christmas, to sell the woodenware products he and his mother and brother make.
He's a big guy, six feet six, two hundred and ten pounds, and perhaps he doesn't have much sense of humour. Some people might even say he's slow, in a way. But he’s a polite sort of guy, and he has a knack of charming the ladies without really having to work at it… even if he does usually get the ugly girls, like Molly. But then he meets Amelia, and Amelia is really pretty, trouble is she’s also black. His mother might not like that.
Evan Hunter
A.K.A. Ed McBain
(Probably this photo shows
him at about the time he wrote
He Who Hesitates (1965))
Roger wants to speak to a detective about Molly.  Not a uniformed cop.  At the moment the detectives are all busy looking for Agnes Dougherty’s refrigerator, although why anyone would want to steal it beats them.
Head down against the snow, Roger starts to follow Detective Steve Carella.
This one is superb.  People talk pretty glibly about books that you just can’t put down, but to actually find one is a rare event.  This is such an event.  The detectives of the 87th Precinct only put in cameo appearances in this one.  The story runs for 150 pages and has the precision and economy of a short story.  The dialogue is brilliant.  Do yourself a favour. Read it.                      

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