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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Lady Lady I Did It

Lady Lady I Did It is one of Ed McBain's (Evan Hunter) 87th Precinct novels. I remember them fondly from my youth, so when Amazon recently ran a $0.99 cent deal on the Kindle editions I picked one up to see how they fare for me, 20 years later.

Police procedurals are great at documenting a moment in time. You read about a time when police departments depended mostly on cops walking the beat, questioning witnesses, and using type-writers instead of computers. You get exposed to the methods used and the serious amount of work required to follow up on a homicide. You get reminded of a time in the country when abortion was illegal, and doctors got put away for performing them. (The slight anachronism here was that the doctor was a woman, and I seem to recall female doctors being rare in that era)

The police are all men, and their family lives reflect the traditional 1950s families: single breadwinner household, and care-taker women. The large number of stereotypes in this novel would put you off if it was a modern novel, but set as it is in the 1950s, it paints the picture of an era gone by.

The mystery itself is not much of one, as the reveals happen very close to the exposure of the criminals in question. It wasn't hard for me to guess what the one big clue was, but overall the plot didn't make sense, as a personal vendetta wouldn't usually lead to a massive killing spree. Unlike later novels in this genre, there's no psychological profiling, and you never get a glimpse of the villain's thought processes.

All in all, a quick easy read, and something useful to remind us of how quickly technology and society has changed over the last 60 years. Mildly recommended.

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