|a sniper on a rampage|
There is real pathos--McBain acquaints us with most of the victims before their deaths--but some terrific humor as well, such as the visit to the station by a blonde bombshell seeking police protection ("I really enjoyed having him," the bombshell confides, when thanking lead character Detective Steve Carella for the patrolman he provided her) and the extended comedic riff a cop makes on a witness' name, Stan Quentin (some of these cops really should have gone on tour).
There's also rumination on ethnic relations and satire directed at politicians, the press and Freudian psychiatry, as well as an entire chapter devoted to describing some very bad deeds by a pair of very bad cops. This chapter could have been deleted without affecting the plot, but McBain clearly wanted to Make A Point about the potential for police abuse of power in 1963, and he does.
|the bodies pile up|
*(in Ten Plus One McBain classifies homosexuals--men "who have watched their manhood die, and who live a desperate dying life in the shadow of the law"--with junkies, thieves, burglars, muggers, con men, pimps, whores and street gang members. He seems to write from a standpoint of empathy for those he sees as having thrown away their lives. This short section of the book may rankle, but keep in mind that it was composed half a century ago.)
There is no way one can deduce the culprit of the crimes until late in the book, but at that point one does have the chance to beat the cops to the solution (and one should). The final revelations are deftly handled--as is, really, everything in this novel, which throughout reveals the hand of a consummate master of series crime fiction. This is a mystery tale that seems to me almost impossible not to enjoy.
Note: For Part One of this piece, see here. And by all means see Sergio's more (but not too) detailed review over at Tipping My Fedora, if you haven't already.