Friday, 14 August 2015

One Man's Opinion: EIGHT BLACK HORSES by ED MCBAIN


‘Naomi was lying on the bed with a bullet hole between her eyes. The pillow under her head was very red.’

I enjoyed my first venture into the 87th Precinct a while ago, but felt there were too many voices for my liking.

Eight Black Horses (US) was my second visit. I knew from the opening line (‘The lady was extraordinarily naked’) that I was going to love this one. What made this book so much more of a pleasure was that there was only one main thread to follow, the curious fascination of The Deaf Man with the detectives of the 87th and especially one Steven Louis Carella.

The book starts with a woman’s body being found dumped in a local park. That is followed by a series of images sent to the department by The Deaf Man. It’s clear the criminal is up to something, it’s just that no one in the force can work out what.

There’s a huge amount to savour here. The angle of the arch-enemy versus the cops works really well because The Deaf Man is such a fantastic creation, mixing a sense of mischief with the mentality of a mastermind and a ruthless cold streak. It’s also a joy to get to know the detectives a little better, especially when their focus is so concentrated. There are some great scenes, many fantastic one-liners and there’s a mass of humour that contributes to the general tone. I also got a buzz from the images included with the text, a simple pleasure on each occasion one appeared.


I thoroughly enjoyed this one and may have finally discovered why McBain has such an excellent reputation. I’ve already lined up a couple more 87th Precinct reads and one of them has another run in with The Deaf Man. I’m really looking forward to those. 

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