ED McBAIN – Another Part of the City. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1986; paperback, April 1987.

   I wonder if this was ever intended to be the first of a new series for McBain, or if it was never meant to be more than the one-shot it is. All of his 87th Precinct stories take place in Isola, a purely fictional borough of a larger unnamed city. As a change of pace, perhaps, Another Part of the City, still a police procedural in the same vein as the other series, definitely takes place in Manhattan.

   The primary detective in this one is a homicide detective by the name of Bryan Reardon. He has a partner and fellow officers, but all of the others seem to disappear ito the cold December air, except when they show up every so often in the underheated squad room on their own cases and pieces of his, as needed.

   Which leaves Reardon pretty much on his own to tackle the case of the shooting of a Italian restaurant owner in his precinct’s part of town — all the way downtown. Tied in somehow, as McBain relates the tale, are the various members of an uptown family — part of the rich and powerful elite of the city — as they busily try to accumulate millions of dollars in ready money to help seed a billion dollar project they have in mind — and one they strongly prefer to keep a secret.

   And what connection does Reardon’s case have to do with them? Quite a bit, of course. This is the kind of story in which the twain definitely do meet. We’d be more surprised if they didn’t.

   Quite a bit of Reardon’s private life is revealed to us as well. He is going through a divorce, unwanted on his part, with the custody of his six-year-old daughter at stake. A bit of romance with a female member of a jury which allowed the defendant got free — a rapist who Reardon helped haul in — seems unlikely when it begins, but by book’s end, things seem to be moving along quite well in that regard.

   McBain/Evan Hunter is such a good writer that it’s easy to miss how slim and trim the book is, under 200 pages long, but that’s no complaint as far as I’m concerned. I was bothered quite a bit more by the fact that Reardon resorts to reading old newspaper accounts of the murder of the man whose death connects Story A with Story B. I don’t know why he didn’t get in touch with the officers in charge of the case. I think it would be to be a lot more effective way to go about it.

[WARNING: PLOT ALERT] But in the end, he has untangled all of the various plot strands, and he knows who done it and why. But can he prove it? In true noirish style, that is the question. (And hence the title of the book.)