Usually, when Ed McBain wanted to goose the 87th Precinct forward, he would reintroduce the Deaf Man to basically act out what would now be a Michael Bay film at the expense of the bulls of the 87th. This time, however, he goes for one of his favorite hobbies: Tormenting young detective Bert Kling. Kling marries a fashion model named Augusta. She is kidnapped from their hotel room that night as Kling is taking a shower.
Steve Carella, normally the star of an 87th novel, and the tragically named Meyer Meyer have nothing to go on. And everyone in the squad, even bigoted moron Andy Parker, is giving it their all to find Augusta. Where is she?
Trapped in the apartment of a crazed man with a German accent who is obsessed with the woman in the fashion magazines. And he is very upset that Augusta would forsake him by marrying “that man.”
The case is cracked by the series’ newest regular, Fat Ollie Weeks. Weeks is slovenly, arrogant, and bigoted. Unlike Andy Parker, Weeks is 1.) smart and 2.) able to get past his own prejudices. Weeks has a soft spot for the 87th and steps into the case to give the squad a fresh set of eyes. He doesn’t know Kling, and he isn’t shy about asking uncomfortable questions. I suspect McBain was simply tired of Parker’s presence and knew the character couldn’t be fleshed out. No one likes Weeks as a person, but you can’t help but root for him.
Steve Carella dodges Weeks in this tale of a murder of a blind couple. Jim Harrison is a blinded Vietnam vet who lives off begging and disability. He is black. His wife is white. At first, Carella suspects a racial motive. Then theft. Then…
He’s not really sure. He has to go all the way back to Harris’ s past, calling the Army and former members of Harris’s unit, even an old street gang Harris ran with before getting drafted. When another blind person is attacked, Carella worries that a serial killer is at work.
In the course of his investigation, Carella is hit on by a female sergeant whose husband is overseas. After the incident, Carella starts worrying about his ability to stay faithful to wife Teddy. To make matters worse, he has to go undercover in a massage parlor, one of those massage parlors, to question a witness.
This case is complex and twisting. Race threatens to become an issue, but the ending is much more bizarre.