Ed McBain, RIP

One of my favorite authors has passed away: Evan Hunter, writing mostly as Ed McBain, chronicler of the cops at the 87th precinct in a thinly-disguised New York City.

He had an amazing career. In the 50s he wrote The Blackboard Jungle. In the 60s he wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock's The Birds. He wrote a slew of novels under his own name.

But I mainly enjoyed reading about the 87th. It's probably safe to say he invented the modern police procedural mystery; all those CSIs and Law and Orders owe him.

His primary detective character, the mensch Steve Carella, may have been played by more actors than any other character: browsing the IMDB, I see a real who's who: Robert Loggia, Robert Lansing, Dale Midkiff (who?), Randy Quaid, Burt Reynolds, Jean-Louis Trintignant; also (probably) a couple of Japanese actors, but I can't tell from the IMDB.

I see there's a last 87th novel Fiddlers due later this year. It would have been nice to see the Deaf Man finally run to ground, but it doesn't look (from the Amazon description) as if that's in the cards.

Ed McBain's website is here. Check it out for more details about a great author.

UPDATE: Excellent obit from James Grady at Slate.

Last Modified 2005-07-15 2:26 PM EDT