Review: Cop Hater by Ed McBain

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Orion Books Ltd., 2003. Format paperback. First published in the USA 1956. ISBN: 978-0-75285-791-6. Pages 208.

The action takes place during a heat wave in a fictional town that so far is unnamed. Two detectives assigned to the 87th Precinct are murdered with a 24 hour difference. Detective Mike Reardon and his partner detective David Foster are both killed with a .45 bullet. The investigation is carried out mainly by detectives Steve Carella and Hank Bush. There are sixteen detectives assigned to this precinct house, but they could have used up to one hundred and sixteen and still be understaffed. The 87th Precinct covers a population of 90,000 persons. Lieutenant Byrnes is the man in charge of the Detective Squad.

The investigation moves slowly, due to lack of clues, until one day a third detective is murdered, but he defends himself and manages to injure the murderer before dying. Soon the police have all the personal details of the killer: sex, age, height, weight, hair colour and even his profession. Almost every detail except his motive, and what’s maybe even more important, his name.

Probably my first encounter with Ed McBain was when reading Murder in the Savoy. Sjöwall and Wahlöö, put in the mouth of one of the characters in this book that he’s reading Cop Hater, by Ed McBain. Since then I’ve read Sadie When She Died. See my review here. Cop Hater is the first book in his long-running 87th Precinct series. My edition comes with a very interesting Introduction written in 2002 by Evan Hunter/Ed McBain describing the genesis of this series. He also explains the reason for using a pseudonym; and to locate the series in a fictional town loosely based on New York. Finally he talks about his idea of not using only one protagonist but a squad of detectives, or a conglomerate hero.

In 1958 Cop Hater was made into a film of the same name. In 1961, NBC developed an hour-long TV series 87th Precinct. McBain’s work inspired many other writers and television producers to further develop the police procedural genre. Most notably, in 1981 Steven Bochco produced the award winning Hill Street Blues for NBC. Bochco set his gritty police drama in a precinct house in a fictional city much as McBain did in Cop Hater (from Wikipedia).

Ed McBain was one of the many pen names of the successful and prolific crime fiction author Evan Hunter (1926 – 2005). Born Salvatore Lambino in New York, McBain served aboard a destroyer in the US Navy during World War II and then earned a degree from Hunter College in English and Psychology. After a short stint teaching in a high school, McBain went to work for a literary agency in New York, working with authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and P.G. Wodehouse all the while working on his own writing on nights and weekends. He had his first breakthrough in 1954 with the novel The Blackboard Jungle, which was published under his newly legal name Evan Hunter and based on his time teaching in the Bronx. Perhaps his most popular work, the 87th Precinct series (released mainly under the name Ed McBain) is one of the longest running crime series ever published, debuting in 1956 with Cop Hater and featuring over fifty novels. The series is set in a fictional locale called Isola and features a wide cast of detectives including the prevalent Detective Steve Carella. McBain was also known as a screenwriter. Most famously he adapted a short story from Daphne Du Maurier into the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). In addition to writing for the silver screen, he wrote for many television series, including Columbo and the NBC series 87th Precinct (1961-1962), based on his popular novels. McBain was awarded the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986 by the Mystery Writers of America and was the first American to receive the Cartier Diamond Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. He passed away in 2005 in his home in Connecticut after a battle with larynx cancer. (Amazon’s Ed McBain Page).

Margot Kinberg once said to me, in answer to my question:

The 87th Precinct series consists of 55 novels, so one would have to take one’s time reading them all. I do recommend reading them more or less in order simply because it’s easier to follow the lives of the characters. That said though – and this is important – one doesn’t need to do so to enjoy individual novels. Each novel focuses on a self-contained case or set of cases. So it’s quite easy to enjoy them as individual stories. I confess I haven’t read all of them. Of those I’ve read, I recommend this one – Cop Hater – because it lays the groundwork. And then Killer’s Wedge, He Who Hesitates, 80 Million Eyes, Ghosts, The Big Bad City and Money, Money, Money. Those are only seven and there are so many more to choose from. But those are, in my opinion, some of McBain’s best 87th Precinct stories. 

I’ve very much enjoyed Cop Hater, although I must admit that police procedurals are among my favourite subgenre of detective novels. Therefore, is no surprise my interest in this particular book. Now I ask myself why it took me so long to discover it. It offers an excellent example of what is meant by a police procedural. And I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series.

My rating: A (I loved it).

Cope Hater has been reviewed at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist (Margot), Tipping My Fedora (Sergio), BooksPlease (Margaret), In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel (Puzzle Doctor), Past Offences (Rich), Crime Fiction Lover, Bitter Tea and Mystery (TracyK), What are you reading for …? and The Nick Carter & Carter Brown Blog (Scott) among others. 

87th Precinct at The Thrilling Detective Website 

87th Precinct at Tipping My Fedora

Ed McBain 87th Precinct at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

Orion Publishing Group

Amazon Publishing

The Official Ed McBain Web Site

Ed McBain by Colin Cotterill at Petrona Remembered

Odio de Ed McBain


La acción tiene lugar durante una ola de calor en una ciudad ficticia que hasta el momento permanece sin nombre. Dos detectives asignados al Distrito 87 son asesinadas con una diferencia de 24 horas. El detective Mike Reardon y su compañero, el detective David Foster caen abatidos por una bala calibre 45. La investigación corre a cargo principalmente de los detectives Steve Carella y Hank Bush. Hay dieciséis detectives asignados a esta comisaría, pero podrían haber utilizado hasta ciento dieciséis y todavía ser insuficientes. El Distrito 87 cubre una población de 90.000 personas. El teniente Byrnes es el hombre a cargo de la Brigada de Investigación.

La investigación avanza lentamente, debido a la falta de pistas, hasta que un día un tercer detective es asesinado, pero se defiende y logra herir al asesino antes de morir. Pronto la policía tiene todos los datos personales del asesino: sexo, edad, altura, peso, color de pelo e incluso su profesión. Casi todos los detalles excepto el motivo y, lo que es quizás aún más importante, su nombre.

Probablemente mi primer encuentro con Ed McBain fue al leer Asesinato en el Savoy, cuando Sjöwall y Wahlöö ponen en boca de uno de sus personajes que está leyendo Odio, de Ed McBain. Desde entonces he leído Sadie cuando murió. Ver mi crítica aquí. Odio es el primer libro en la extensa serie del Distrito 87. Mi edición viene con una Introducción muy interesante escrita en 2002 por Evan Hunter/Ed McBain en donde describe la génesis de esta serie. También explica la razón por la que utiliza un seudónimo; y por la que localiza la serie en una ciudad ficticia basada libremente en Nueva York. Finalmente habla de su idea de no utilizar un solo protagonista, sino un escuadrón de detectives, o un héroe conglomerado.

En 1958 Cop Hater fue llevada al cine. En 1961, la NBC desarrolla una serie de televisión de una hora basada en el Distrito 87. El trabajo de McBain inspiró a muchos escritores y productores de televisión para desarrollar aún más el género denominado procedimiento policial o “procedural”. En particular, en 1981 Steven Bochco produjo la ganardonada serie Hill Street Blues de la NBC. Bochco situó su descarnado drama policial en una comisaría de una ciudad ficticia como hizo McBain en Odio (de Wikipedia).

Salvatore Lombino (Nueva York, 15 de octubre de 1926-Weston (Connecticut), 6 de julio de 2005), más conocido como Ed McBain, fue un escritor y guionista estadounidense. Aunque adoptó legalmente el nombre de Evan Hunter en 1952, nombre con el cual publicó varios novelas, entre ellas Blackboard Jungle, más conocida por su versión cinematográfica como Semilla de maldad (1955), dirigida por Richard Brooks y protagonizada por Glenn Ford. A partir de 1956, cuando publicó Cop Hater, la primera de sus 55 novelas policíacas del subgénero de policía procesal, basadas en el Distrito 87, utilizaría el seudónimo Ed McBain para la mayoría de sus obras. Otras obras suyas adaptadas al cine incluyen Un extraño en mi vida (1960), con Kirk Douglas y Kim Novak, y El turbulento distrito 87 (1972) con Burt Reynolds, Yul Brynner y Raquel Welch. Como guionista, colaboró con Alfred Hitchcock en adaptar una historia de Daphne du Maurier en Los pájaros (1963). (de Wikipedia)

Margot Kinberg me dijo una vez, en contestación a mi pregunta:

La serie Distrito 87 consta de 55 novelas, así que a cualquiera le puede llevar un cierto tiempo leerlas todas. Recomiendo su lectura más o menos por orden, simplemente porque es más fácil así seguir la trayectoria de cada personaje. Dicho esto sin embargo, y esto es importante, no es necesario leerlas cronológicamente para poder disfrutar de cada novela individualmente. Cada novela se centra en un caso independiente o en un conjunto de casos. De esta manera es muy fácil disfrutar de cada una de ellas como lo que son, historias individuales. Confieso que no las he leído todas. De las que he leído, yo recomiendo Odio, ya que nos sirve para sentar las bases de la serie. Y luego Killer’s Wedge, He Who Hesitates, 80 Million Eyes, Ghosts, The Big Bad City y Money, Money, Money. Estas son sólo siete y hay muchas entre las que poder elegir. Pero estas son, en mi opinión, algunas de las mejores novelas de La serie Distrito 87 de Ed McBain.

Me ha gustado mucho Odio, aunque debo reconocer que los procedimientos policiales se encuentran entre mi subgénero favorito de novelas de detectives. No es pues de extrañar mi interés en este libro. Ahora me pregunto por qué he tradado tanto tiempo en descubrirla. Ofrece un magnífico ejemplo de lo que se entiende por “procedural”. Y estoy deseando leer mas libros de esta serie.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó).

Pueden ver otras reseñas de Odio en Elemental, querido blog y en Detectives literarios,

Serie Negra


RBA Odio

20 thoughts on “Review: Cop Hater by Ed McBain”

    1. Thank you very much Sergio. I’ve seen your entry on the series and I do have a link to it on my post. But thank you anyway. Cheers 🙂

      1. I like this template Sergio but I have not been able to figure out yet how to highlight words with a link. Sorry for that.

  1. Thank you very much, José Ignacio, for the very kind mention and link. I believe this series to be one of the really fine police procedural series in the genre. As you say, Cop Hater is an excellent example of what a good police procedural should be. I hope you’ll enjoy the others in the series. Thanks for an excellent (as ever) review.

  2. I much envy you all the pleasure you have in store, Jose Ignacio, with a whole 54 novels still to go about the boys from the 87th. I’ve read most of them, and am now filling in gaps/rereading some of the early ones; my own novella The City in These Pages is a homage of sorts to the series.

    Another big fan among bloggers is What Are You Reading For . . .?

    in 1981 Steven Bochco produced the award winning Hill Street Blues for NBC. Bochco set his gritty police drama in a precinct house in a fictional city much as McBain did

    Funny you should say that. In one of the later 87th Precinct novels a few of the boys in the squadroom spend several pages bitching about how Hill Street Blues is essentially a plagiarism of their lives, and make comparisons between events in the TV show and those in the history of the 87th. I couldn’t work out whether McBain was pissed about the “similarities” or amused by them.

    1. I’m glad to hear that John and thank you very much for the link to What Are You Reading For . . .?
      I’ve just added the link to my post.

      The comment about Hill Street Blues is taken from Wikipedia.

      Most notably, in 1981 Steven Bochco produced the award winning Hill Street Blues for NBC. Bochco set his gritty police drama in a precinct house in a fictional city much as McBain did in Cop Hater. Apparently, Evan Hunter was unhappy with the similarity but he was reminded of his own borrowing of his predecessor’s ideas.[citation needed] But it might be apocryphal.

  3. Thanks for the link, John and Jose. I’ve always loved McBain; he’s one of the first (adult) crime writers I remember reading. My parents are both still fans of his, and there were always copies of his books lying around the house. I’m 7 books into the series, and reading them in order is fascinating – seeing how characters develop, and also how they reflect what is going on in the wider world.

  4. Thanks for the mention, José Ignacio. I am trying to read this series in order but have only read three so far. I too am a fan of police procedurals. I have been having trouble commenting at WordPress blogs lately, hence the change in my user name. But I have been visiting a lots.

  5. Interesting post about a series I have yet to begin! I tend to read more books in the winter than the rest of the year, so I hope to get to it soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: