Steve Carella is back from honeymoon. A junkie meets an untimely end and the manner of his departure is suspicious enough to suggest something other than suicide. There’s a syringe next to the corpse, but the body is also hanging by the neck and the two things don’t fit easily together.
Enter Lieutenant Byrnes, the head of the force. As he delves into the murky world of drug dealing, he is informed by anonymous source that his son is not only a junkie, but that his fingerprints will be found on the syringe left next to the corpse found at the opening.
These two strands mingle throughout, offering the usual balance between police work and personal lives that makes McBain’s stories so well-rounded and engaging.
This one has a massive incident. It came at me as a total surprise and had me reeling. It also has a beautiful chapter about Carella’s main informant, Danny Gimp, so bitter-sweet that if it were a marmalade it would be my favourite.
There’s the usual quick and easy ending to the investigation that’s satisfying even though it shouldn’t be and a personal ending that would grace the finest novel.
If there’s a flaw, it’s the more-exaggerated-than-usual issue with point of view, but it’s part of the style and almost an element of the charm.
Throw in an afterward by the author that leaves you wondering what might have been and The Pusher’s a total winner.