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Ed McBain is an American institution. With his authentic depictions of investigative procedure and his unparalleled portraits of life inside the concrete canyons of urban America, McBain writes novels of crime and punishment, and he does it better than anyone else.

Benjamin Smoke is a retired police lieutenant who walked away from the job for one reason alone: he was bored. Bored of the criminals. Bored of the crimes. Bored of answers that came too easy, too fast, and too often the same. Now, working as an unlicensed private detective, Smoke finally gets his wish. Someone has committed the perfect crime -- a perfectly senseless crime -- by stealing a dead body. And when Smoke starts investigating he's in for one surprise after another, from black magic to murder and a woman who believes she's Cleopatra and is lighting a fire right before Smoke's eyes...

  Evan Hunter