Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Evan Hunter, R.I.P.

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: "The man beloved to millions of crime fiction fans under his real name and as Ed McBain passed away this afternoon after a longrunning battle with cancer. He was 79. More information will be available later, but suffice to say, he will be missed by many, many people."

When I read this on Sarah Weinman's blog, my jaw dropped. I can't begin to imagine a world without Evan Hunter in it. I've been reading his books before I even started reading crime fiction, the first one being a Winston SF novel called FIND THE FEATHERED SERPENT when I was just a tyke. I loved that book. A few years later I picked up THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, which I read about the time the movie came out. I thought it was a great novel, and I still have that same copy, though it's been re-read so many times that it's in tatters. I later read many of his "mainstream" books, like STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, mainly because of the movies made from them. What really got me started on him, though, was the 87th Precinct books that he wrote as Ed McBain. Man, I loved those early books in that series. As anyone who reads my Sheriff Dan Rhodes novels is aware, I work in a tribute to McBain every chance I get. He ever wrote me a letter about it once, which was a huge thrill for me. The news that he's gone hit me hard. I've been reading his novels for more than fifty years, and I guess I just thought he'd always be around.


  1. Jeff Meyerson9:00 PM

    Major bummer, Bill. I hadn't heard anything about it. He's been one of my favorite writers for years. At last count, I'd read 86 of his books and, happily, still have a number yet unread. The 8-7 will live on forever even though it's creator is gone.

  2. Damn. One of the masters gone. He'll be missed.

  3. I loved him either as Ed McBain or Evan Hunter. Thank goodness I haven't read ALLof his books.

    Best wishes to his widow.

  4. Brian Evankovich6:54 PM

    Sad news indeed. I've never been able to recall any one or two of his 87th Precint books in detail, but while I'm reading I wonder if I'll ever be as good and then try to be better but whenever I go back to his work I say, nuts, there's still a lot to learn. And then I keep trying. But he's left us plenty to remember him by and that's not a bad legacy at all.

  5. I also have my well-worn copy of The Blackboard Jungle, which I came across the other day while sorting paperbacks. Decided it deserved a place on a shelf rather than in a box. Also gave shelf space to Quartet in H and the short story collection Happy New year, Herbie. On the same shelf was a copy of Big Man by Richard Marsten, which I found recently. I didn't know at the time that Martsen was Hunter. Now I have to try to find my hardcover of the jazz novel, Second Ending. Hope I didn't purge it in my last cleanup. While I have read some of McBain's other novels, for some reason I have never read an 87th Precinct and I like police procedurals.

  6. Start with the early ones, Cop Hater, The Pusher, The Mugger and then hit some of the more recent titles. Great stuff.