Steve ​Carella, Meyer Meyer, and Fat Ollie Weeks having been working the 87th Precinct for more than 40 years, but they’re still the top dicks in town for devotees of Ed McBain’s absorbing police procedurals.

When a pretty, red-haired, ex-military pilot is killed, the boys in blue blunder around for a few chapters before they unmask her secret life as a drug courier. By then the burglar who broke into Cass Ridley’s apartment and stole the “tip” she got for her last run has already tried to spend one of the $100 bills from her stash, attracting the attention of the Secret Service. The “superbill” is phony, and by the time Carella and his crew uncover the international counterfeit ring behind it, McBain has notched up the action with a terrorist plot to bomb Clarendon (read Carnegie) Hall, where an eminent Israeli violinist is performing.

There’s also a conspiracy involving a publishing company whose sales reps are so venal and violent you might think they were the creation of a writer who blamed them when his last book failed to sell. Not so McBain, who can’t have too many complaints in that department. His publisher’s reps have been living well for decades on the commissions earned on McBain’s books (including those of Evan Hunter, his alter ego).

That he has kept this series going for so long without tricking up the plots, turning his characters into stereotypes, or sacrificing their humanity is a tribute to his authorial gifts: expert pacing, sharp-edged dialogue, authenticity, wit, and confidence. There’s only thing getting old in this, his 51st book in an evergreen series: the fictional convention that locates the 87th in a place called Isola instead of midtown Manhattan, where it so clearly is set. —Jane Adams

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