The Pusher is the third book in Ed McBain's 87th Precint series and is the book that was supposed to bring everything to a tidy close until the publishers decided that they wanted more and commisioned McBain to write further novels based in the same Precint. Once again Steve Carella is back as the lead Detective but this time around there is equally as much focus on Lieutenant Pete Byrnes who also plays a crucial role in the investigation.
When a drug user is found in an unused cellar, the first thought is that he committed suicide. But crime scenes in the 87th Precint are rarely that simple and it soon looks as though somebody has set everything up as a means of misdirection. Meanwhile Lieutenant Byrnes gets a phone call from an anonymous caller regarding the case that also implicates his son. Is it possible that his own son has been using illegal substances to get high? And how on earth did that come to happen? More importantly, just HOW exactly is his son caught up in what looks more and more like a murder investigation commited by persons unknown?
This is another great early Police procedural thriller from an author who spanned many successful years of writing and whose books are just as much fun to read now as they were when they were first published. It is especially interesting to read about early Criminal investigation and Crime scene techniques developed long before D.N.A evidence was around and McBain does a good job of educating the reader without ever making it sound like he is lecturing.
It is also good to see early incarnations of characters who would later go on to become regulars in the series, not just amongst the Detectives, such as Bert Kling, but also in the form of informer Danny Gimp. The best thing about the 87th Precint novels is that they DON'T nessecarily have to be read in order but also that, no matter which book you pick up, you will always be familiar with the characters inside. The way that McBain writes means that in any one book a different Detective can take the lead, the only constant pretty much being the presence of Detective Steve Carella. But Carella is by no means always the main focus and there are equally as many books where he is present but takes more of a back seat!
As for The Pusher, well this a good place to start the series but also nice as a flashback for long-time fans to see where the series originally began! There are few writers around that are as good as McBain and this book goes a long way to proving why he is often regarded as the godfather of modern crime fiction!