87th Precinct detectives pursue con man and murderer.
The fourth book in the 87th Precinct series, the title says it all as the members of the 87th attempt to track down con men preying on the weak and naive members of The City, as well as involving themselves in a few cons of their own.
Written in 1957, my favorite dated aspects of the narrative:
*When talking about pretty girls, it is noted that no one cares if you are smart "so long as you have a beautiful phizz."
*Pointing out the absurdity of something, it is stated that it "takes the brass bologna" and "wins the fur-lined bathtub."
Main man Steve Carella and his deaf/mute wife Teddy (who is yet again involved in a crime relating to Carella's investigations) track down a deadly Lonely Hearts killer, the impatient Brown attempts to stop a pair of street smart confidence men, and rookie Kling helps out while helping his college student fiancee Claire con her school into granting her an early vacation with Kling. The mischevious Meyer Meyer and violent Havilland take to the background in this short entry into the series.
As always, McBain's characters are all three dimensional and compelling, and he manages to explore the emotional and philisophical aspects of crimes, victims of crimes, and their protectors in a way that few ever match. The theme of the The Con is throughout the novel, from the obvious and dangerous to the subtle and benign, and as his opening states and story demonstrates, life itself is a con, and to some degree we are all Con Men.