Thursday, 31 May 2012

The 87th Precinct Project

Over the years I've read and loved many (probably most) of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels.
For anyone who doesn't know them the books, written over 49 years (from 1956 to 2005) are police procedurals set in a fictional (and never named) city which bears many similarities to New York.
The books are all short (just right for a crime novel in my opinion), snappy and written with humour and a wonderful sense of character. Every one of them starts with the wonderful 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.

I've just remembered that I used to have that photocopied and up on my bedroom wall. :)

I've owned a good few of them in my time but currently own none, having had a massive book clearout a few years ago. Recently I've had a hankering to read them again and, probably coincidentally, a desire to read physical books again after a couple of years reading ebooks almost exclusively. There's something about the feeling of a paperback in my back pocket that I miss.
These two notions conspired together in my brain and meshed themselves together into the idea that I should try and reacquire all of the books and reread them in order. Given that there are 54 of them (feel free to correct me on that but I think it's correct) and that I refuse to pay full price for any of them there's likely to be a bit of legwork involved in this quest, but no more than McBain's fictional detectives regularly indulged in.

I started this search just over a week ago, visiting every place that sells second-hand books in the town I live in and turning up not one of them.
Earlier this week I walked from work down to the main street and searched over a dozen charity shops with no luck. I did find one hardback copy of 'Mischief' but I'm only interested in paperbacks. I never said this project was logical. I was pretty dejected about the whole thing at that point and then today I got a message from someone with a copy of 'The Big Bad City' that needs a good home. This random act of kindness has got me into the whole idea again...

So that's what I'm doing and I'll post weekly updates for anyone who is interested...

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