It’s really several stories for the 87th Precinct this time as Ed McBain brings all the current bulls together. Beginning at midnight Sunday morning, Meyer Meyer finds himself chasing ghosts. Literally, he is chasing ghosts when a woman calls to say her house is haunted. Carella and Hawes work their off hours as bigoted loudmouth Andy Parker is shot in the line of duty. Vertically-challenged detective Hal Willis takes rookie detective Rick Genero with him to find out why a naked hippie fell to his death from a four-story window. Bert Kling finds himself in the aftermath of a storefront church bombing, while Alex Delgado finds his skills dealing with the Puerto Rican residents put to the test. Finally, Carl Kapek goes hunting for a sexy female mugger who managed to get a Marine beatup.
All these would have been fine short stories in and of themselves, but there seems to be a lot of confusion following multiple cases. As a result, there’s not that much memorable about it. It seems as though McBain needs to reboot his series again. When that happens, you can count on the Deaf Man to return. He does in…
The Deaf Man does return, taunting the detectives of the 87th Precinct with a series of photostats to give them a sporting chance to foil his next operation, as usual, a bank robbery. He even calls Carella and Meyer to say hello and drop a few more hints. This is actually good, a little entertainment for the bulls while they deal with a baffling set of burglaries. Bert Kling lands this case and scores some help from a uniform on the beat hoping to make detective to lessen the blow of a recent divorce. He also scores with a model. Poor Bert. But the burglar is a bit odd. He gets in with a duplicate key, which not only baffles Kling, the building supers, and a couple of locksmiths, but leaves an annoying lack of evidence. The burglar also leaves a calling card, a kitten. At least until one is accidentally killed. Then he leaves a ceramic one.
As always, the Deaf Man, who serves more as comic relief this time, breathes new life into the 87th Precinct. It’s now the seventies. The World War II references are growing a bit thin, but the profanity explodes in this one. McBain is finally comfortable with sprinkling a moderate number of F bombs into dialog without being gratuitous.