The Last Best Hope

Ed McBain
Warner, 1998. 320pp
ISBN: 0-446-51990-1

review by Harriet Klausner

In Florida, Jill Lawton hires private investigator Matthew Hope to locate her missing spouse, Jack. Nine months ago, Jack left Jill (don't say a word) to looking for work as a graphic designer in the north. He never came back to Jill, who assumes that he abandoned her. She wants to find him, divorce him, and collect alimony from him.

Matthew follows Jack's trail which takes him to New York's 87th precinct. Matthew enlists the help of detective Steve Carella (star of McBain's 87th precinct series), but soon learns that Jack is apparently dead. However, Matthew has uncovered some discrepancies in the man's death that leads him back to his own hometown of Calusa. The local museum is about to unveil a Greek antiquity that has the attention of several folks, which may or may not include Jack. It is up to Matthew to thwart a robbery and uncover motives and identities without being killed during the climatic melee.

Ed McBain, recognized as one of the all time greats, has written is best novel in several years with The Last Best Hope. Readers will enjoy Matthew meeting Steve, but in a lesser novel that would be a diverging gimmick. In this book, it is fun to watch them interact. However, what makes this fiction an earl contender as one of the best robbery novels of the year are the constantly changing loyalties and the fact that no one knows the rules to the game that they all are participating in, with their lives as the ante. After four plus decades of writing, Mr. McBain stil remains one of the best talents in today's writing field of stars.

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