ED McBAIN (b. 1926)
He was born Salvatore A. Lombino in an impoverished New York City neighbourhood, but he has written under the names Ezra Hannon, Richard Marstan, Evan Hunter, and Ed McBain-the last two of which made him famous. McBain studied at both the New York City Art Students League and Cooper Union Art School on scholarships, but even then his love was writing. After service on a destroyer during World War II, he switched to Hunter College to earn a degree in English and membership in «Phi Beta Kapa.»
McBain worked as a lobster salesman and a substitute teacher, among other jobs, and published scores of short stories and three novels before «The Blackboard Jungle,» written as Evan Hunter, brought him financial success in 1954. Remarkably prolific, he also has written two plays, four film scripts, two television plays, and a number of books for children. But his fame and his reputation rest principally on his Eighty-seventh Precinct series, which began in 1956 with the publication of «Cop Hater.»
These novels-many of which feature Steve Carela, the precinct's chief detective, but often focus on other members of the force-won for McBain the 1986 Grand Master award of the Mystery Writers of America and a reputation among his peers as the pre-eminent creator of the police-procedural form. His plots focus on the crime and on the exhausting work required of lawmen to catch the criminal. McBain makes his policemen human, with lives outside their duty, and he peoples the streets with minor characters who are interesting because he makes them real.
The Eighty-seventh Precinct works, with their multiple story lines, require the length of the novel form. But a similar atmosphere is depicted in many of McBain's short stories. While it does not use the characters who made the Eighty-seventh Precinct famous, «Small Homicide» is illustrative of McBain's keen knowledge of the details of police work and of the human misery that lies behind so many crimes. It stands as the prime example of a police procedural that induces an overwhelming sensation of pity in the reader.