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Hark! (87th Precinct Mysteries

I'm a Fathead, Men! I Am the Deaf Man! Unscrambling the cryptic messages -- anagrams, Detective Carella called them -- delivered to the 87th Precinct confirmed that the master criminal who has eluded them time and again is not only alive and well, but may or may not be behind a deadly revenge shooting. For that matter, the Deaf Man may or may not be deaf. But he's getting through loud and clear with clues drawn from Shakespeare's works -- taunting hints and maddening riddles pointing to his next plan of attack. It doesn't take a literary scholar to know there's no room for misinterpretation. For when the Deaf Man talks, everybody listens...or somebody gets hurt.
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Several excellent narrators, including the author, have lent their voices to McBain's long-running series about the detectives of the 87th precinct, but none seems as perfectly tuned in to the sleuths' personalities and attitudes as actor, playwright and author McLarty. He picks up all of McBain's nuances and adds a few of his own when delineating the lengthy lineup of characters from the thoughtful, heroic Steve Carella, somewhat distracted by the impending dual marriages of his mother and sister, to the Deaf Man, the velvety smooth recurring nemesis of the 87th. This time the puzzle-happy villain bedevils the precinct with Shakespearean quotes, giving McLarty the rare opportunity to show off his flair for classical locution. But of his many audio achievements, the finest is his interpretation of the overweight, obnoxious Det. Ollie Weeks, to whom McLarty gave voice in Fat Ollie's Book (2003). In that audiobook, Weeks found love in the form of Officer Patricia Gomez. Near the end of this audiobook, there's a beautifully written vignette in which Ollie and Patricia take a skim milk break, with him trying to alter his chauvinistic, racist lingo while she tries to bolster his flagging self-esteem. McLarty captures the humor, poignancy and, yes, romance of the scene, shifting between the two very different voices with eye-blink speed and even adding asides from an acerbic waitress. It's a magic moment and not the only one to be found in this highly entertaining adaptation. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Forecasts, July 19). (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

The Deaf Man, nemesis of the 87th Precinct, returns in the 53d novel in McBain's long-running series. After shooting the Deaf Man and stealing $30 million from him, Gloria Stanford must face the consequences. The day after she is killed, Steve Carella begins to receive notes full of Shakespearean references and anagrams that point to the Deaf Man's next crime. While decoding the notes keeps the detectives busy, Bert's bad experiences with women cloud his relationship with Sharyn Cooke, Cotton is almost killed by a sniper, Ollie continues to emerge as a caring human being, and Carella must plan the double wedding of his mother and his sister. Having set the standard for police procedurals since this series's inception in 1956, McBain here combines many story lines involving the detectives in an exceptionally well-plotted encounter with the criminal genius who always underestimates the intelligence of the cops he taunts and the women he uses. For most mystery and crime fiction collections. McBain lives in Weston, CT. [See Mystery Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/04.] Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Ed McBain is, by far, the best at what he does. Case closed." --People "A treat that die-hard fans of the hard-boiled police procedural should not pass up." -- The New York Times "The Deaf Man is still a holy terror..." -- The New York Times

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