by Sukey HowardMarch, 2000
Forty-six years ago, Ed McBain published the first in a series that has become legendary in the genre and beyond. With The Last Dance (4.5 hours), this prince of police procedurals adds the 50th chapter to the annals of the 87th precinct.
The gruff good guys are all here: Carella, Brown, Meyer and Kling, as well as paunchy, pugnacious Ollie Weeks, and they're caught up in a string of murders that don't seem to have any logical connection, save the seemingly odd use of rohypnol, a.k.a. the date-rape drug. Their investigation takes them from the glittery theater district of Isola, McBain's name for his thinly disguised version of the Big Apple, to seedy clubs and dangerous slums. But wherever this author goes, his eye for detail, his ear for language and his innate understanding of the complex dynamics of this multiracial metropolis are dead-on accurate. And, as McBain himself reads, you hear the tale in tones that only a native New Yorker or, to keep the conceit going, Isolian could produce. Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.