The con man ~ Ed McBain
Penguin Books, 166 pages, 1957
A lot of things happen in the book. There are many stories, which are all told in pieces troughout the book. Two stories are about con men. One man, Chris Donaldson, places contact-adds in papers, and once the women trust him completely he has them tattood, and kills them. Two bodies with a similar tattoo were found in a river. The man was already working on his third victim when he got caught. The story of that woman was told from the beginning. Steve Carella, a detective, and his deaf wife were the ones who traced the con man. Steve did this by checking out tattoo-shops, and his wife got involved by accident when she wanted to get a tattoo herself, and recognised the man. They saved the third girl.
The other con man-story is about two men who take innocent people from the streets and trick them. They fool people for a lot of money. They got caught when they were trying to trick detective Brown, who had been working on their case for a while and immediately recognised their way of working.
Another story was a small one about detective King who wrote a false note to his wife’s boss to get her to do her exams a little earlier. By doing that they could go on a holiday. It worked.
The action takes place on a lot of locations: the 87th Precinct, Kling’s house. Carella’s house, in the park, in the streets, tattoo shops and in a hotel. All in England, in Riverhead and towns in it’s neighbourhood. People live in a normal environment, whith a common degree of education. There are no religious interests.
The action could take place right now. The story is completely invented, and it’s main character is Steve Carella, although his wife also playes a big role in it. The people of the 87th Precinct also play roles in the story. They’re all collegues of Steve. Steve is a hero, he catches the bad guys. I liked him because he’s smart and doesn’t hesitate when he has to make a decision. He’s also got a sense of humour.
The climax of the story is when Steve shoots Chris.
The title of the book can be related to all of the stories in the book, because they are all about con men.
Carella acts the way he does because he’s a cop and he gets paid to do his job right.
The book is a detective/novel. It consists of chapters without numbers. The book isn’t chronological. There is for example a flashback of when Steve thinks of a Christmas a long time ago. The book starts in the middle of events.
There were a few flashing dialogues in the book, but not to enhance the tension. They made the book realistic. It’s an exciting book, with a bit of humour. The events and the way they are connected are emphasised in the book, but there’s also told a lot about the characters.
Ed McBain is a pseudonym for Evan Hunter. He grew up in New York City, and that’s where he got the backgrounds on 87th Precinct stories. He doesn’t give his own opinion in this book. He wants to entertain the reader. The book is a detective, and I’ve read a few other detectives, but the only thing in common is the corpse(s).
What struck me most was that Steve’s wife Teddy got such a big role in the story. In the beginning I thought she was just someone on the background. The setting could be any other American precinct you see in movies for example.
I liked the book. I could hardly stop reading, because it was so exciting. In the beginning it was all a bit confusing because of all the different events, but eventually it all became clear. I also liked it that there was a bit of humour in it.
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