Guns by Ed McBain
Random House, Copyright 1976
Someone reminded me that it's been over three years since Ed McBain passed away, I was all set to argue with him that "no he died last year," but I guess time does fly. "Guns" is a novel that I always was planning to read, but never did. I just finished it and McBain slams you in the face with this one.
"The side of Colley's face is throbbing where the shotgun stock collided with his cheekbone. The Smith & Wesson has been taken from his side pocket, he is aware at once of the absence of its bulk. He feels suddenly naked."
It's a 24 hour story of small-time robber Colley Donato. He and a couple of his pals rob a NYC liquor store and two cops are waiting. Colley blows the back of the head off of one of them and he's on the run from then on. As he is moving between apartments and meeting past acquaintances, we get an insight into Colley's mindset and how he became what he is. Brought up on the mean-streets of NYC, at twenty-nine he developed into an unstable, fearful (almost superstitiously) punk. The cops quickly get an ID on him and a massive city manhunt takes place. Colley allies himself with his partner's wife, but that goes sour. Escaping from NYC, he is left wandering in New Jersey with a constant hunger for a gun and trying to make another score.
This is a street-dirty novel and for 1976 it may have turn a few heads. But I'm sure Ed McBain had to present it that way to capture the vile nature of men like Colley Donato and the filthy streets they rise from. There are no decent guys (or girls) in the novel, just crooks, hookers, pushers, rapists and all of them cop-haters. The title has relevance throughout the novel and McBain latently reminds us of that. "Guns" is damn good, I read it in one setting and never looked at what page I was on. But beware, McBain's going to hit you with a fist.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Guns by Ed McBain