87th Precinct  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The 87th Precinct is a series of police procedural novels and stories written by Ed McBain. McBain's 87th Precinct works have been adapted, sometimes loosely, into movies and television on several occasions.

The series is based on the work of the police detectives of the 87th Precinct in Isola, a district of a large fictional city based on the New York City borough of Manhattan. Other districts in McBain's fictionalized version of New York correspond to NYC's other four boroughs, Calm's Point standing in for Brooklyn, Majesta representing Queens, Riverhead substituting for the Bronx, and Bethtown for Staten Island.

Each novel begins with the same disclaimer:

"The city in these pages is imaginary. The people, the places are all fictitious. Only the police routine is based on established investigatory technique." In interviews and articles, McBain has freely admitted that his series was heavily influenced by the radio and TV series Dragnet. This introduction, simultaneously evoking and contradicting Dragnet's introductory phrase, "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent," was apparently McBain's way of acknowledging the debt, yet announcing his intention to go his own way in every book.

The series focuses on the detectives of the 87th Precinct, and although different detectives will "star" in different novels, most 87th novels feature a significant, if not a starring role for Detective 2nd Grade Stephen Louis "Steve" Carella. Carella's fellow precinct detectives include Arthur Brown, Eileen Burke, Roger Havilland, Cotton Hawes, Bert Kling, Meyer Meyer, Andy Parker, Bob O'Brien, Hal Willis, Alex Delgado, and Richard Genero. (During investigations Carella is most often partnered with Meyer, Hawes, or Kling.) In the first novel in the series, Carella is partnered with a detective called Bush. Bush's wife has hired someone to murder Bush, as well as two other officers who are not mentioned in the other novels. The detective squad commander is Lt. Peter Byrnes. Also seen frequently, and lending a certain continuity to the series, are the minor characters Alf Miscolo (the clerk in charge of records and coffee) and desk sergeant Dave Murchison, as well as a large cast of regulars who do not work at the 87th, including Steve's deaf-mute wife Theodora "Teddy" Carella; the buffoonish and arrogant homicide detectives Monoghan and Monroe, who always appear together; the crime lab supervisor Sam Grossman; the police informers Danny Gimp and Fats Donner; Rolly Chabrier from the District Attorney's office; and the detective Ollie Weeks (a.k.a. "Fat Ollie"), a central character in several 87th Precinct novels even though he is in fact on the squad of the neighboring 88th Precinct (later he is transferred into the 87th Precinct).

Another recurring character was the Deaf Man, a Professor Moriarty-like criminal mastermind who appeared in six novels, enjoyed plotting elaborate crimes to bedevil the men of the 87th, but by miscalculations on his part, and the blind luck of the detectives, was foiled.

Hunter's final book Learning To Kill, was published in July 2006 under his Ed McBain pseudonym. It is a volume of short stories written between 1952 and 1957, including some that inspired and became 87th Precinct mysteries.


Ed McBain on writing an 87th Precinct novel

"I usually start with a corpse. I then ask myself how the corpse got to be that way and I try to find out-just as the cops would. I plot, loosely, usually a chapter or two ahead, going back to make sure that everything fits - all the clues are in the right places, all the bodies are accounted for...(I) believe strongly in the long arm of coincidence because I know cops well, I know how much it contributes to the solving of real police cases."

The 87th Precinct Mysteries

  • Cop Hater (1956)
  • The Mugger (1956)
  • The Pusher (1956)
  • The Con Man (1957)
  • Killer's Choice (1957)
  • Killer's Payoff (1958)
  • Lady Killer (1958)
  • Killer's Wedge (1959)
  • 'til Death (1959)
  • King's Ransom (1959)
  • Give the Boys a Great Big Hand (1960)
  • The Heckler (1960)
  • See Them Die (1960)
  • Lady, Lady I Did It (1961)
  • The Empty Hours (1962)
  • Like Love (1962)
  • Ten Plus One (1963)
  • Ax (1964)
  • He Who Hesitates (1964)
  • Doll (1965)
  • 80 Million Eyes (1966)
  • Fuzz (1968)
  • Shotgun (1969)
  • Jigsaw (1970)
  • Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here (1971)
  • Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man (1972)
  • Sadie When She Died (1972)
  • Hail to the Chief (1973)
  • Bread (1974)
  • Blood Relatives (1975)
  • So Long as You Both Shall Live (1976)
  • Long Time No See (1977)
  • Calypso (1979)
  • Ghosts (1980)
  • Heat (1981)
  • Ice (1983)
  • Lightning (1984)
  • Eight Black Horses (1985)
  • Poison (1987)
  • Tricks (1987)
  • Lullaby (1989)
  • Vespers (1990)
  • Widows (1991)
  • Kiss (1992)
  • Mischief (1993)
  • Romance (1995)
  • Nocturne (1997)
  • The Big Bad City (1999)
  • The Last Dance (2000)
  • Money, Money, Money (2001)
  • Fat Ollie's Book (2002)
  • The Frumious Bandersnatch (2003)
  • Hark! (2004)
  • Fiddlers (2005)
  • The Last Best Hope, a 1998 novel in McBain's Matthew Hope series, features Steve Carella as a supporting character.

Short stories

  • And All Through the House (1984), later published as a 40 page novella in 1994
  • Reruns (1987)
  • Merely Hate (2005) a short story in the anthology titled Transgressions, edited by Ed McBain

The following books excerpted chapters from 87th Precinct novels:

  • McBain's Ladies (Short Stories) (1988)
  • McBain's Ladies, Too (Short Stories) (1992)

Other media

  • Cop Hater (1958) movie
  • The Mugger (1958) movie
  • The Pusher (1960) movie
  • 87th Precinct (1961-62 NBC) television series co-starring Robert Lansing, Gena Rowlands, Ron Harper, Gregory Walcott, and Norman Fell
  • 87th Precinct (1962) comic book series
  • Tengoku to Jigoku (High and Low) (1963 Japan), movie directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Sans Mobile Apparent (Without Apparent Motive) (1972 France/Italy) movie
  • Fuzz (1972) movie
  • Les Liens du Sang (Blood Relatives) (1978 France/Canada) movie
  • Columbo: No Time to Die (aka So Long as You Both Shall Live) (1992) television movie
  • Columbo: Undercover (aka Jigsaw) (1994) television movie
  • Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Lightning (1995 NBC) television movie
  • Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Ice (1996 NBC) television movie
  • Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Heatwave (1997 NBC) television movie
  • Polishataren (Cop Hater), graphic novel published in Sweden 1990, written by Claes Reimerthi and drawn by Martin Sauri.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "87th Precinct" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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