EVAN HUNTER – Criminal Conversations. Warner Books, hardcover, 1994; paperback, 1995. Pocket, paperback, 2002.

   Is there anyone who doesn’t know that Evan Hunter, nee Salvatore Lombino, is also Ed McBain? No, I didn’t think so. This is his first novel under the Hunter byline in 10 years.

   Michael Welles is an Assistant DA heading up an organized crime unit. He has a beautiful wife, Sarah, and an adorable daughter, Molly. Sarah Welles is a fine and dedicated school teacher with an adoring husband, Michael, along with Molly. Andrew Faviola is a bright young man with a gruff old father, Anthony, who is serving five concurrent life sentences. Andrew has an extended family, too. Some people call it the Mafia. Michael wants Andrew — in jail. Andrew wants Sarah — in bed. Andrew’s extended family wants a lot of things, but mainly to get richer and stay out of jail. What we may have here is a set of irreconcilable goals.

   Well, I’d say what Hunter may have here is a winner. There are cops, and robbers, and lovers, and sex, and violence, and even a cute kid. There are a lot of characters, all of whom ring true, and the writing is as expert as you expect out of an old pro like Hunter, and haven’t always gotten of late from his alter ego, McBain.

   You can tell this one is written for a different audience than are the 87th Precinct books the first time you come to a four-page sex scene with lots of dirty talk. It’s a good book of its kind, which I’d call a “big” crime novel, and maybe a very good one. At the very worst it’s an entertaining read.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #12, March 1994.