Thursday, October 27, 2011

55. Eighty Million Eyes by Ed McBain

I literally found this book in a pile of garbage in an alley here when walking the neighbour's dog.  It wasn't total "garbage" but a bunch of stuff left over from someone who had moved out.  This happens often here in Montreal, people move out and then just dump all the shit they didn't want to take with them into the alley or the street in front of their apartment.  It can be a disgusting mess but you can also find some cool stuff (I've found several beautiful old tools in the past).  In this case, there were several garbage bags filled with old paperbacks!  I really thought I'd hit the motherlode.  When I started to go through it (and I was not the first, so maybe somebody got to the good stuff), I realized that whoever owned these books had the worst taste.  It was almost entirely terrible 80s schlock.  Thick wannabee bestsellers with embossed and fold-out covers.  Crap like Lawrence Sanders and a bunch of those epic romances.  I did find this one McBain book and even though the cover is super 80s, I felt I needed to find something.  McBain, in my experience, pretty much always delivers.  He's not awesome, but he is solid and you get a great look at police procedure in the city.

Eighty Million Eyes is two simultaneous and unconnected investigations.  One is about a really scary psycho guy who is stalking a woman.  The other is about a successful comedian and talk-show host who dies mid-show of poison.  Both were compelling and the one about the stalker was actually quite brutal and scary.  It had one part that I would almost say fell into the exploitative, but just by a smidgen.  It definitely freaked me out as I was in the middle of biting into a mayonaissey burger at the time of reading and it was all about a woman who after being brutally beaten discovers an even more horrible thing on her stomach.  Yuck!

This book also had cool artifacts, like an actual sketch drawing of the suspect, a classified ad (faked by the cops to draw the suspect out) and a complain report.  I guess that gave it more of a realistic, procedural feel.  I wonder if McBain did that stuff himself or if he had people lay it out for him.

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