Guy is beat up by smaller guy. Guy turns to mugging and only targets women, as if to reassert his masculinity. Each time he knocks the woman to the ground, bows, and says the same phrase, "Clifford thanks you, madam." So everyday manners, which are supposed to ease communal interaction, are in fact a mask for gender violence. That's my "academic" impression of McBain's The Mugger (1956). On the trip I got through Killer's Choice (1957) and Killer's Payoff (1958), two more early installments of the 87th Precinct series--and I've pledged to stop at the books of 1960, or maybe 1963. Anyway, detective 2nd-class Steve Carella did not die from his shooting at the end of The Pusher (1956), but he got married, which McBain's editor felt was sort of the same thing. So Carella recedes and a new detective comes to the fore, the tall red-haired Cotton Hawes. In KC Hawes is a transfer from a more affluent precinct, and his lack of street smarts nearly gets his partner killed. Hawes approaches the apartment of a suspect by politely knocking on the door, and he is greeted by a fusillade of bullets that erupts above his head. One bullet nearly hits his partner, who is in fact Carella. In KP Hawes is supposed to be a more heroic figure, but we know this largely because he has gone to bed with two women in the first hundred pages and another one by the time the novel ends. The retrospective that McBain includes with the republished edition is a rant against the editor who pressured him to have a lone protagonist modeled on the gumshoe/private detective, "a handsome hero with whom men can identify and with whom women can fall in love." McBain instead wanted a "conglomerate hero" that would encompass the entire squad. And the tension is evident near the end of the novel with this statement on Hawes: "He made several mistakes in reasoning, however, and those mistakes were what almost cost him his life. One of the mistakes was not letting the rest of the squad in on his plan." Sure enough the mot juste for what gets Hawes in trouble is a kind of conglomerate villain.

Yellow bird with black wings outside my office window.

Longish train ride ahead of me today, meaning I will probably get through the absolute last Bruen novel that I am going to read this summer. After that it's time for preps.

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