Book Review: ‘Til Death by Ed McBain

The 87th Precinct series is fast becoming my favourite series, as Ed McBain cranks out cracking story after cracking story, and this, the ninth installment is another winner.


Steve Carella is woken on the day of his sister’s wedding by a nervous phonecall from the man soon to be his brother in law. The young man has received an unusual wedding gift, a black widow spider. He tries to think of it as a gag, but Carella isn’t so sure.

Carella quizzes him and finds out some potential suspects, asking his colleague Meyer at the precinct to chase the lead. He then asks his fellow off duty detectives Bert Kling and Cotton Hawes to come to the wedding to keep an eye out for danger.

The wedding unfolds as Carella, Kling and Hawes look for dangers and investigate guests while Meyer and O’Brien try and track down the prime suspect.

The set up is gold and McBain quickly sets up a handful of potential suspects, and while one quickly emerges as a favourite, he manages to keep enough doubt to make it a gripping read. And as ever it benefits from the writer’s knack for observation, characterisation and humour.

It moves along at a clip due to the shortened time frame and this ensures it never loses the reader’s attention. There are thrills and spills along the way and it builds to a tense, satisfying conclusion.

Verdict: A fast, fun read which sees McBain execute a brilliant idea as a gripping, enjoyable thriller. There’s enough danger and drama to keep you hooked until the end. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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