Fat Ollie’s Book
Ed McBain
Read by Ron McLarty
Simon & Schuster Audio
5 hours

The late Evan Hunter aka Ed McBain (he died July 6th 2005) was one of the most reliable mystery writers around. His 87th Precinct series is always a good read and by making the precinct the main character he managed to find a formula that can basically renew itself time and again as the many central characters can grow and come and go as the years go by. Fat Ollie’s Book is perhaps one of McBain’s funniest whodunits featuring his most aggravating character, Detective Oliver Wendell Weeks of the 88.
The main storyline would seem to be the murder of councilman and would be mayoral candidate Lester Henderson but while he was first investigating the shooting, someone stole Fat Ollie’s leather dispatch case from his car and in that dispatch case was Report To The Commissioner, the novel, all 36 pages of it, he had just finished writing. The cross-dressing junkie who stole it believes the report to be a real document and decides to do some flatfoot work of his own to save beautiful Olivia Wesley Watts, the detective who wrote the fictitious report, from captivity in a tenement basement somewhere. This device allows McBain to have a lot of fun discussing the art of writing a crime novel and indulge in a series of subject pronoun vs. object pronoun usage jokes.
The audio version of Fat Ollie’s Book is read by Ron McLarty who played Detective Frank Belson on Spenser For Hire. McLarty does a pretty good job as audio books go although he, as many others, still stumbles with the many “he said” repetitions necessary on paper but aggravating when you hear them one after the other. He does get in over his head when he has to do a Jamaican and French accent, both of which sound simply horrible. Still, this is pretty good voice work overall.

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