Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Favourite mystery cover #10

The Con Man - Ed McBain

First published 1957; cover shown is the 1963 Penguin Books (UK) paperback edition. Cover by Alan Spain and Don Hunstein.

"The con men were in town, plying the old diamond switch and all that jazz, when two floaters were fished out of the river. Decomposed, but definitely feminine, both corpses flourished the same tiny tattoo mark on the right hand, and an equal dose of arsenic in the stomach. (A killer with a kink?) Steve Carella took the short cut through the tattoo parlours, but he was asleep when the game broke cover. It was his deaf and dumb wife, Teddy, who took up the hue without a cry."

Ed McBain (one of the pseudonyms of Evan Hunter) grew up in New York and spent a few months teaching high school: his experiences inspired his first major success, The Blackboard Jungle (1954).

In a career which spanned half a century, McBain wrote over 100 novels, plays and filmscripts, including The Birds for Alfred Hitchcock. He was best known for his gritty 87th Precinct crime novels, which paved the way for such TV crime shows as Law & Order.

McBain died aged 78 in July, 2005 after a three year battle with throat cancer.

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