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The Passing of Salvatore Lombino: Farewell, 87th Precinct

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Evan Hunter dies; he was better known as Ed McBain.  It was sad to read of the death of writer Evan Hunter, 78.  I’m grateful for Cara Rubinsky’s Associated Press report with its homage to one of my favorites.

I have been a fan of Hunter and his alter ego, Ed McBain, for a long time and I was always bemused that he was also the author of The Blackboard Jungle, though I didn’t know that when I began reading about the 87th Precinct in the ’60s. 

I don’t know the accuracy in his treatment of police work, but his ongoing ensemble treatment brought us into the lives of his characters.  I introduced Vicki to the 87th Precinct while she was reading everything in sight during a recuperation last year.  We began to discuss the stories at the dinner table.  The one quality that stands out for us is how easily we are able to care what happens to the characters in the stories, even the villains and the less-than-appealing denizens of the precinct house.  We are left wondering how Detective Stephen Louis Carella will resolve his despair over his newly arrived step-father and brother-in-law as nothing remains the same, except Teddy, constant Teddy.  Do you think Fat Ollie ever learns to play “Spanish Eyes?” 

I’m grateful for the last-read offerings from Evan Hunter’s pen: The Frumious Bandersnatch and Hark (of the 87th precinct as Ed McBain), Alice in Jeopardy (a different Ed McBain), and Candyland (a novel in two parts, started by Evan Hunter and finished by Ed McBain).  Most of all, I am grateful for the gift and lesson of humanity invested in all of those characters who so wonderfully memorialize their author.

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