Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fredric Brown; Ed McBain

Fredric Brown:

I walked into Mystery Cat Books, my excellent home town mystery bookstore owned by two fine people, Ruth and Todd Myers by name, and Todd said, "I've got something for you."

And man what a Something.

He'd found a sign copy of my favorite Fredric Brown novel The Far Cry (I'd argue that it out Thompsons Jim Thompson in many respects). And he gave it to me knowing what I think of Brown and especially this novel.

The inscription reads:

With Tears
Cry Baby Brown
(or Fredric Brown)

Obviously a very personal (and thus obscure) inscription but a book I'll treasure the rest of my life, Brown being one of my five favorite crime writers of all time.

Thanks very much to Todd and Ruth..

-----------------Ed McBain

Stuart Evers makes the case for Ed McBain being the grandfather of all well-regarded police dramas--even though he often doesn't get the proper credit. As I recall Evan Hunter most resented Hill Street Blues for a) stealing the 87th whole without apology or credit b) turning it into a ridiculous weepy.

Here's Evers:

"Joseph Wambaugh first staked out the territory since occupied by Price and Pelecanos. Wambaugh was an ex-cop whose novels and non-fiction count among the most realistic, pugnacious and nuanced of all police procedurals. Starting in the early 70s, he shone a new light on the dark humour of the cops who patrolled a decaying Los Angeles. His novel The Choir Boys, which was preceded by the masterful non-fiction work The Onion Field, stand out from his early work, but was followed by a patchy run of novels. Only his return to the police of LA in Hollywood Station (a suggestion, or plea, from James Ellroy being the impetus) restored his reputation as a real master of genre.

"But If Wambaugh honed and shaped this more messy, character driven-crime writing, then Ed McBain invented it. His 87th Precinct novels - all of which begin with the epigram: "The City in these pages is imaginary. The people, the places, are all fictions. Only the police routine is based on established investigatory techniques" – are the books to which so much detective fiction indebted.

These tales – short, violent, meticulously plotted – show the police as more than just an ace detective surrounded by stooges and sidekicks. Here was a company of men and women trying to make it through each shift, through each case, with their humour and their lives intact. The series' brevity, wit and ear for the vernacular of both the tough and the weak are as cracking in their understatements as Chandler and Hammett were with their wise-acre shtick."

for the rest go here:


Anders E said...

Some of the comments to the Guardian article show that there are some truly clueless people out here. "Pointing readers to Ed McBain is like suggesting Sci-Fi fans read novelizations of Star Wars rather than Ray Bradbury". Say WHAT?

pattinase (abbott) said...

This begs who are the other four?

Jerrt House said...

The Far Cry is my favorite Brown novel also, followed closely by The Lights in the Sky Are Stars. Brown deserves a serious reprint program. My favorite McBain, by the way, is Ghosts.

Martin Edwards said...

The inscribed Brown is something to treasure. What a wonderful gift!