(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The death of Ed McBain (the pen name of Evan Hunter) in 2005 brought to an end one of the great careers in modern American mystery writing. This culminating volume in the 87th Precinct series demonstrates that the author's skills had not weakened with age. In Fiddlers, a serial killer begins killing his victims with a gun in a departure from established patterns for these criminals. Other odd features of the killer's behavior add to the intricacy of this case. Weaving the stories of his familiar characters together with his customary brilliance, McBain reveals the deeper levels behind his puzzle. The detectives solve the case but not before they learn personal lessons about the complexity of human existence. Simple but traumatic events in childhood can leave scars that resonate for generations.

The series does not end with a resolution that settles the fate of Steve Carella, Bert Kling, and Meyer Meyer. Instead, the book concludes with characters in the middle of their lives as cops, much as the series itself began more than half a century ago. McBain was too adroit a writer to take the easy route of devising a summary that would tie up all the loose ends for the many recurring characters his fertile imagination had devised. Throughout his best work, McBain revealed a mastery of police procedure and a dazzling ability to construct fascinating plots. These talents are on display in a book that provides a fitting windup to an array of mysteries that will be timeless in their appeal.