Review

Fat Ollie's Book: A Novel of the 87th Precinct

by Ed McBain



One of the bits of information bestowed upon the reader perusing
FAT OLLIE'S BOOK is that Steve Carella is 40 years old. Given that
he was around 25 when Ed McBain published COP HATER, the first 87th
Precinct novel, in 1956, that certainly demonstrates an ability to
age gracefully! Like Carella, the 87th Precinct series and McBain
have aged well and, if FAT OLLIE'S BOOK is any indication, still
have plenty of life.

FAT OLLIE'S BOOK, while being "A Novel of the 87th Precinct" is
also technically a novel of the 88th Precinct. FAT OLLIE is Fat
Ollie Weeks, a detective assigned to that particular precinct
house. He is held in good-natured contempt by his fellow officers
for various reasons, most of them legitimate ones. Weeks becomes
embroiled in the affairs of the 87th Precinct when he answers a
call concerning the murder of Lester Henderson, a city councilman.
Weeks' automobile is broken into while he is at the scene of the
crime. The thief makes off with two of Weeks' possessions: an
attaché case that he does not value much and the only copy of
his manuscript, Report to the Commissioner, which he values
very much. Weeks is, of course, incensed and spends almost as much
time methodically tracking down the thief as he does Henderson's
murderer. He is assisted in the latter endeavor by a couple of the
lads of the 87th --- this is, after all, a novel of the 87th
Precinct --- as well as by Officer Patricia Gomez, a newly minted
cop who found the murder weapon in the Henderson case and who
becomes, against all odds, the willing object of Weeks's love
interest.

With respect to his search for his erstwhile manuscript, well,
Report to the Commissioner indirectly becomes the catalyst
for the involvement of a couple of prostitutes in a cocaine
rip-off. McBain, as always, brings all of this off so wonderfully
that he makes it look easy --- which it isn't --- and makes it
wonderful, which it always is. McBain also leaves some threads
unraveling within the personal lives of some of his characters,
just to be sure that the reader will be back for the next
installment. Be back?! Hah! Read one and try to stay away!

McBain shows no signs of wear, tear or rust as he approaches his
half-century of chronicling the 87th Precinct. He seems incapable
of writing badly, though there is an example in FAT OLLIE'S BOOK of
what he is able to do in that regard, when he sets his mind to it.
Let's just say that Weeks isn't half the writer that McBain is and
count us the luckier for it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Fat Ollie's Book: A Novel of the 87th Precinct
by Ed McBain

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2003
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743202708
  • ISBN-13: 9780743202701