Literature: 87th Precinct

The 87th Precinct series is a Long-Running Book Series in the Police Procedural genre, written by Ed McBain (the crime-fiction writing pseudonym of Evan Hunter). It features a revolving cast of police officers from the eponymous precinct, located in an unnamed city that isn't exactly New York.

There have been several screen adaptations, including the feature films Cop Hater (1958), The Mugger (1958), The Pusher (1960), Fuzz (1972) and Blood Relatives (1978); a short-lived weekly series, 87th Precinct (1961-62); and three Made for TV Movies, Lightning (1995), Ice (1996), and Heatwave (1997). Most famously, King's Ransom was adapted into the Japanese film High And Low (1963) by Akira Kurosawa. So Long As You Both Shall Live and Jigsaw were also adapted for Columbo (as "No Time To Die" and "Undercover" respectively, with Arthur Brown joining Columbo in the latter).

Needs a Better Description.

This series provides examples of:

  • Arch-Enemy: The Deaf Man
  • Asshole Victim: the victims in Fiddlers become less sympathetic when you discover just what rotten people they were, and what they did to Charlie to make him so deranged. Michelle, the main victim in Romance, is a whiny, spoiled diva who gets her boyfriend / agent to stab her for attention and is later stabbed for real.
  • Bad Ass: Steve Carella, Hal Willis, Cotton Hawes. Lt. Byrnes, Meyer, and Kling have their moments too.
  • Badass in Distress: Carella is kidnapped, chained to a radiator and injected with heroin in Doll.
  • Berserk Button: Emma is Brother Anthony's in Ice. And vice versa, as the novel's killer ultimately finds out when he murders Anthony...
    • Don't even think about insulting or mistreating Teddy Carella. Steve will tear you a new one.
    • As a father of a teenage daughter, Meyer absolutely hates paedophiles and has to be cautioned by Carella in Lullaby when dealing with the father of the murdered baby, who was having an affair with the other murder victim - the 15 year old sitter.
    • And in Lady, Lady, I Did It!, when Carella, Brown and Kling go to arrest the killer, Kling loses all control and beats him half to death, because one of his victims was Kling's girlfriend Claire Townsend.
    Carella was already typing up the false report in his head, the one about how Manners (the killer) had resisted arrest.
    • In Killer's Choice, the normally patient Meyer loses it when the owner of the liquor stone Annie Stone was shot dead in is visibly more concerned about the four thousand dollars' worth of booze that was destroyed in the process.
  • Best Served Cold: The main plot in Ten Plus One and Fiddlers. In the former, the killer is targeting people who were in a play with his wife at university, and who participated in an orgy-turned-gang rape during the aftershow which left her infertile. In the latter, the killer is targeting people who screwed him over in some way, from his own mother - who abandoned him and his brother - to a teacher who refused to give him an A and made fun of him.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Kling's relationship with Sharyn Cooke has some of this.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: The Deaf Man (although it's unknown whether it's his natural hair color).
  • Brick Joke: Meyer's long, wonderfully orchestrated story about cat thief in The Mugger.
  • Broken Bird: Eileen Burke, so very much. She becomes a cop after her father and uncle, both policemen, are murdered, and dreams of avenging her uncle's death. She is raped and slashed in one book and suffers PTSD as a result, and it gets worse after the events of Tricks, when she shoots a man who was killing and mutilating prostitutes, after he tried to kill her.
  • Cartwright Curse: Bert Kling. The poor guy just can't catch a break. His girlfriends either end up dying, having too many issues to cope with a relationship, going off with another man or just getting fed up with him.
  • The Chessmaster: The Deaf Man
  • Christmas Episode: The Pusher, Sadie When She Died, Ghosts, Money Money Money
  • Comic-Book Time
  • Continuity Nod: Later books in the series frequently reference events or characters from earlier ones.
  • Cop Killer: In Cop Hater, the first novel, a murderer kills three policemen; as it turns out at the end, the third was the true target, and he only killed the first two to mislead the police into thinking that he's a Serial Killer who targets cops.
  • Criminal Mind Games
  • Cross Over: One of McBain's Matthew Hope novels, The Last Best Hope, has that character teaming with Steve Carella on a case.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Fat Ollie's Book
  • A Death in the Limelight: Frankie Hernandez in See Them Die.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Meyer, often.
  • Detective Patsy: Happens to unexperienced patrolman Bert Kling in The Mugger. Bert gets a promotion to Detective after that.
  • Dirty Cop: Roger Havilland
  • Disabled Love Interest: Theodora "Teddy" Carella, a deaf mute.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The officers on duty in Ten Plus One when a hot blonde actress - and potential victim of the book's villain, a sniper - arrives at the station. She does not get killed, by the way.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Deaf Man at his introduction in The Heckler wins a poker match by calculating hand probabilities.
  • Everybody Lives: King's Ransom
  • Fair Cop: Bert Kling, Eileen Burke, Annie Rawles
    • Sharyn Cooke is both this and a Hospital Hottie, being Deputy Chief Surgeon for the department.
  • Fair Play Whodunnit: Like Love, although the main clue can be confusing for the modern reader.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Eighty Million Eyes
  • Fat Bastard: 88th Precinct detective Fat Ollie Weeks, and police informer Fats Donner. The former is a bigot, the latter a pedophile.
  • Fiery Redhead: Eileen Burke
  • Halloween Episode: Tricks. There's even a group of circus midgets who yell 'trick or treat!' before shooting people.
  • Happily Married: Steve and Teddy Carella, Meyer and Sarah Meyer.
  • Haunted House: Ghosts
  • Heat Wave: Cop Hater, Heat
  • Hollywood Satanism: Vespers
  • How Unscientific!: Ghosts
  • Insists on Paying: Steve Carella (and, by extension, every honest cop).
  • Interrupted Suicide: Unsuccessfully interrupted in Like Love.
  • Jerk Ass: Roger Havilland, Andy Parker
  • Karma Houdini: The murderer in He Who Hesitates.
    • And the Deaf Man, who remains at large at the end of Hark!, the final book in which he appears.
  • Killed Off for Real: Roger Havilland in Killer's Choice, Frankie Hernandez in See Them Die, Claire Townsend in Lady, Lady, I Did It!.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The entire roster of the 87th (up to that time) only appears in one book - the appropriately named Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here.
  • Locked Room Mystery: A fairly realistic version in Killer's Wedge.
  • Lower Deck Episode
  • Meganekko: Annie Rawles
  • New Year Has Come: Lullaby
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Fat Ollie Weeks
  • No Communities Were Harmed
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Pepe Miranda's death in See Them Die. First, he is shot repeatedly by the army of cops. Then Andy Parker empties his gun into him. And then, Parker grabs another gun and shoots Miranda in the head. Twice.
  • Non Sequitur: Meyer often blurts his (unrelated to the topic at hand) thoughts out loud, confusing the others.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: some of the most mild and harmless-seeming people turn out to be killers, such as Timothy Moore, the victim's medical student boyfriend in Ice.
  • Meaningful Name: Usually averted, but played straight with Don King from King's Ransom.
  • One-Word Title: Many of the books, particularly in the '80s and '90s.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Deaf Man
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Richard Genero.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Captain Frick. The best thing that could be said about his leadership is that he realises his own incompetence and most of the time just don't do anything.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Fat Ollie Weeks.
  • Pun-Based Title: Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man
  • Rape as Drama: Eileen Burke. In Lullaby, she goes into therapy after the events of Tricks (see Broken Bird above).
  • Recurring Character
  • Repetitive Name: Meyer Meyer.
  • Scary Black Man: Arthur Brown, and he's more than happy to play on white people's prejudices (see Jigsaw for an excellent example). Unfortunately, some white suspects have a tendency to talk to the white cop who's interviewing them (usually Kling) and ignore Brown completely.
  • Self-Deprecation: Both Meyer Meyer and The Deaf Man admit to hating Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, the screenplay for which was written by... Evan Hunter.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: Cop Hater and Long Time, No See
  • Skunk Stripe: Detective Cotton Hawes has a white streak in his otherwise red hair as a result of his hair growing back over a knife scar.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Andy Parker for Roger Havilland. After Havilland's death, Parker fills the role of a large, brutal, racist jerkass cop. Even his backstory is similar to Havilland's.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Several, for example Charles Tudor from Give the Boys a Great Big Hand. Both Carella and Meyer feels sympathy for him for being such a Love Martyr.
  • Themed Aliases: The Deaf Man always uses aliases that are some sort of play on words on 'deaf' in a variety of languages.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction
    "The city in these pages is imaginary. The people, the places are all fictitious. Only the police routine is based on established investigatory technique."
  • This Is My Name on Foreign
  • Those Two Guys: The buffoonish and arrogant homicide detectives Monoghan and Monroe.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Frequently.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: In Lady, Lady, I Did It, a shooter opens fire in a store and guns down four people. One of them happens to be Detective Bert Kling's fiancee, thereby guaranteeing that the crime has the attention of every cop in the city.
  • Villain Episode: He Who Hesitates.
  • The Villain Makes the Plot: When the Deaf Man is involved.
  • What Could Have Been: McBain apparently had the idea for a final novel in the series, to be called Exit and published after his demise, but the same cancer that eventually took his life prevented him from getting around to writing it.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield? / No Communities Were Harmed: The novels are set in Isola, a district of an unnamed, fictional city in an unnamed state which, as mentioned above, closely resembles New York. Isola includes many features of Manhattan, and the other districts mentioned are clear stand-ins for New York City's other four boroughs.
    • More specifically, according to The Other Wiki, "Calm's Point" is Brooklyn, "Majesta" is Queens, "Riverhead" is the Bronx, and "Bethtown" Staten Island. Then there's the Harb (Hudson) and Dix (East) Rivers, and the similarly unnamed "next state" (New Jersey). George M. Dove's unofficial 1985 companion to the series, The Boys from Grover Avenue, analyzes the geography of McBain's "Imaginary City" and describes it as NYC shifted to the side, so that north becomes east, east south, etc.
    • Oddly enough, New York itself is occasionally mentioned in the books. Apparently McBain's universe has two huge and virtually-interchangeable metropolises co-existing very close to one another on the East Coast of the United States.
    • The film adaptations of Cop Hater (1958) and The Pusher (1960) are explicitly set in NYC. The 1972 film version of Fuzz, meanwhile, is set in Boston for some reason, and the film of Blood Relatives (1978), being a French-Canadian co-production, is set in Montreal!

Alternative Title(s):

Eighty Seventh Precinct