Эд Макбейн: Lady, Lady, I Did It!

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Эд Макбейн Lady, Lady, I Did It!
  • Название:
    Lady, Lady, I Did It!
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Simon and Schuster
  • Жанр:
    Полицейский детектив / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1961
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Lady, Lady, I Did It!: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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It is late afternoon, Friday, October 13. Detectives Carella, Meyer and Kling of the 87th Squad are waiting for their relief, due at 5:45 P.M. At 5:15, the telephone rings. Meyer answers, listens, jots down a few notes, then says, “Steve, Bert, you want to take this? Some nut just shot up a bookstore on Culver Avenue. There’s three people laying dead on the floor.” The crowd had already gathered around the bookshop. There were two uniformed cops on the sidewalk, and a squad car was pulled up to the curb across the street. The people pulled back instinctively when they heard the wail of the siren on the police sedan. Carella got out first, slamming the door behind him. He waited for Kling to come around the car, and then both men started for the shop. At the door, the patrolman said, “Lot of dead people in there, sir.” A routine squeal for the 87th, answered with routine dispatch. But there was nothing routine about it a moment later. What Bert Kling found in the wreckage of the shop very nearly destroyed him. Enraged, embittered, the youngest detective on the squad begins a nightmarish search for a crazed and wanton killer. The hunt is relentless and intensely personal — not only for Kling but for every man on the squad. Lady, Lady, I Did It! like all 87th Precinct stories, is charged with emotion and moves from the first page with the relentless, driving intensity that is characteristic of Ed McBain.

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Ed McBain

Lady, Lady, I Did It!

This is for Henry Morrison

Chapter 1

Patterns.

The pattern of October sunlight filtering past barred and grilled windows to settle in an amber splash on a scarred wooden floor. Shadows merge with the sun splash — the shadows of tall men in shirt sleeves; this is October, but the squadroom is hot and Indian summer is dying slowly.

A telephone rings.

There is the sound of a city beyond those windows. The sudden shriek in unison of children let out from school, the peddler behind his cart — “Hot dogs, orange drink” — the sonorous rumble of buses and automobiles, the staccato click of high-heeled pumps, the empty rattle of worn roller skates on chalked sidewalks. Sometimes the city goes suddenly still. You can almost hear a heartbeat. But this silence is a part of the city noise, a part of the pattern. In the stillness, sometimes a pair of lovers will walk beneath the windows of the squadroom, and their words will drift upward in a whispered fade. A cop will look up from his typewriter. A city is going by outside.

Patterns.

A detective is standing at the water cooler. He holds the coneshaped paper cup in his hand, waits until it is filled, and then tilts his head back to drink. A .38 Police Special is resting in a holster that is clipped to the left-hand side of his belt. A typewriter is going across the room, hesitantly, fumblingly, but reports must be typed, and in triplicate; cops do not have private secretaries.

Another phone rings.

“87th Squad, Carella.”

There is a timelessness to this room. There are patterns overlapping patterns, and they combine to form the classic design that is police work. The design varies slightly from day to day. There is an office routine, and an investigatory routine, and very rarely does a case come along that breaks the classic pattern. Police work is like a bullfight. There is always a ring, and always a bull, and always a matador and picadors and chulos, and always, too, the classic music of the arena, the opening trumpet playing La Virgen de la Macarena, the ritual music throughout, announcing the various stages of a contest that is not a contest at all. Usually the bull dies. Sometimes, but only when he is an exceptionally brave bull, he is spared. But for the most part he dies. There is no real sport involved here because the outcome is assured before the mock combat begins. The bull will die. There are, to be sure, some surprises within the framework of the sacrificial ceremony — a matador will be gored, a bull will leap the barrera — but the pattern remains set and unvaried, the classic ritual of blood.

It is the same with police work.

There are patterns to this room. There is a timelessness to these men in this place doing the work they are doing.

They are all deeply involved in the classic ritual of blood.


“87th Squad, Detective Kling.”

Bert Kling, youngest man on the squad, cradled the telephone receiver between his shoulder and his ear, leaned over the typewriter, and began erasing a mistake. He had misspelled “apprehended.”

“Who?” he said into the phone. “Oh, sure, Dave, put her on.” He waited while Dave Murchison, manning the switchboard in the muster room downstairs, put the call through.

From the water cooler, Meyer Meyer filled another paper cup and said, “He’s always got a girl on the phone. The girls in this city, they got nothing else to do, they call Detective Kling and ask him how the crime is going today.” He shook his head.

Kling shushed him with an outstretched palm. “Hello, honey,” he said into the phone.

“Oh, it’s her,” Meyer said knowingly.

Steve Carella, completing a call at his own desk, hung up and said, “It’s who?”

“Who do you think? Kim Novak, that’s who. She calls here every day. She wants to know should she buy some stock in Columbia Pictures.”

“Will you guys please shut up?” Kling said. Into the phone, he said, “Oh, the usual. The clowns are at it again.”

Claire Townsend, on the other end of the line, said, “Tell them to stop kibitzing. Tell them we’re in love.”

“They already know that,” Kling said. “Listen, are we all set for tonight?”

“Yes, but I’ll be a little late.”

“Why?”

“I’ve got a stop to make after school.”

“What kind of a stop?” Kling asked.

“I have to pick up some texts. Stop being suspicious.”

“Why don’t you stop being a schoolgirl?” Kling asked. “Why don’t you marry me?”

“When?”

“Tomorrow.”

“I can’t tomorrow. I’ll be very busy tomorrow. Besides, the world needs social workers.”

“Never mind the world. I need a wife. I’ve got holes in my socks.”

“I’ll darn them when I get there tonight,” Claire said.

“Well, actually,” Kling whispered, “I had something else in mind.”

“He’s whispering,” Meyer said to Carella.

“Shut up,” Kling said.

“Every time he gets to the good part, he whispers,” Meyer said, and Carella burst out laughing.

“This is getting impossible,” Kling said, sighing. “Claire, I’ll see you at six-thirty, okay?”

“Seven’s more like it,” she said. “I’m wearing a disguise, by the way. So your nosy landlady won’t recognize me when she peeks into the hall.”

“What do you mean? What kind of a disguise?”

“You’ll see.”

“No, come on. What are you wearing?”

“Well... I’ve got on a white blouse,” Claire said, “open at the throat, you know, with a strand of very small pearls. And a black skirt, very tight, with a wide black belt, the one with the silver buck...”

As she spoke, Kling smiled unconsciously, forming a mental picture of her in the university phone booth. He knew she would be leaning over very close to the mouthpiece. She was five feet seven inches tall, and the booth would seem too small for her. Her hair, as black as sin, would be brushed back from her face, her brown eyes intensely alive as she spoke, perhaps with a faint smile on her mouth. The full white blouse would taper to a narrow waist, the black skirt hanging on wide hips, dropping in a straight line over her thighs and her long legs.

“...no stockings because the weather’s so damn hot,” Claire said, “and high-heeled black pumps, and that’s it.”

“So, where’s the disguise?”

“Well, I bought a new bra,” Claire whispered.

“Oh?”

“You should see what it does for me, Bert.” She paused. “Do you love me, Bert?”

“You know I do,” he said.

“She just asked him does he love her,” Meyer said, and Kling pulled a face.

“Tell me,” Claire whispered.

“I can’t right now.”

“Will you tell me later?”

“Mmmm,” Kling said, and he glanced apprehensively at Meyer.

“Wait until you see this bra,” Claire said.

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it,” Kling said, watching Meyer, phrasing his words carefully.

“You don’t sound very interested,” Claire said.

“I am. It’s a little difficult, that’s all.”

“It’s called ‘Abundance,’ “ Claire said.

“What is?”

“The bra.”

“That’s nice,” Kling said.

“What are they doing up there? Standing around your desk and breathing down your neck?”

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