Book Review – HAIL, HAIL THE GANG’S ALL HERE! (1971) by Ed McBain

HAIL, HAIL THE GANG’S ALL HERE! (1971) ***
by Ed McBain
This paperback edition published by Coronet Books, 1995, 190pp
First published in 1971
© Ed McBain, 1971
ISBN: 978-0-3405-9330-1
Blurb: There are 186 patrolmen and a handful of detectives in the 87th Precinct, but it’s never quite enough. Because between petty crimes and major felonies, between crimes of hate and crimes of passion, the city never sleeps — and for these cops, a day never ends… The night shift has a murdered go-go dancer, a firebombed black church, a house full of ghosts, and a mother trying to get her twenty-two year-old to come home. The day shift: a naked hippie lying smashed on the concrete, two murderous armed robbers in Halloween masks, and a man beaten senseless by four guys using sawed-off broom handles. Altogether, it’s a day in the life. But for a certain cop in the 87th Precinct, it could just be his last…
Comment: In the 25th book in the 87th Precinct series McBain again looks to try something new in an attempt to freshen up the series. This time he presents a day’s caseload for the detectives of the 87th squad, each of which could have been a short story in its own right. The book is not structured in traditional chapters, and is instead divided into two sections – “nightshade” and “Daywatch”.  These sections deal with the detective’s night and day shifts and follow the teams as they investigate a number of contrasting crimes. As the book’s title suggests, McBain gives space to all the detectives on the squad, allowing each to have a moment in the sun, This means we get to meet some of the squad who have been rarely featured previously, as well as all the regulars. The result is a disjointed novel, that perhaps represents the realistic caseload handling of a detective squad, but lacks a central hook that threads through the cases together. The dialogue is as strong as ever and the broader character spectrum provides additional interest. An interesting experiment, albeit one that lacks cohesion.