It is Christmas in the city, but it isn't the giving season. A retired Gulf War pilot, a careless second-story man, a pair of angry Mexicans, and an equally shady pair of Secret Service agents are in town after a large stash of money, and no one is interested in sharing. The detectives at the 87th are already busy for the holidays. Steve Carella and Fat Ollie Weeks catch the squeal when the lions in the city zoo get an unauthorized feeding of a young woman's body. And then there's a trash can stuffed with a book salesman carrying a P-38 Walther and a wad of big bills. The bad bills and the dead book salesman lead to the offices of a respected publisher, Wadsworth and Dodds. This is good news for Fat Ollie, because he's working on a police novel -- one written by a real cop -- and he's sure it's going to be a bestseller.
Ed McBain, a recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's coveted Grand Master Award, was also the first American to receive the Diamond Dagger, the British Crime Writers Association's highest award. His books have sold more than one hundred million copies, ranging from the more than fifty titles in the 87th Precinct series (including the Edgar Award–nominated Money, Money, Money) to the bestselling novels written under his own name, Evan Hunter—including The Blackboard Jungle (now in a fiftieth anniversary edition from Pocket Books) and Criminal Conversation. Fiddlers, his final 87th Precinct novel, was recently published in hardcover. Writing as both Ed McBain and Evan Hunter, he broke new ground with Candyland, a novel in two parts. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. He died in 2005.