The Mugger (Paperback)
While most readers know him as Ed McBain, the renowned author of the 87th Precinct series, Evan Hunter was born Salvatore Albert Lombino and remained that throughout his boyhood and early adulthood in East Harlem and the North Bronx. Lombino spent two years in the U. S. Navy before attending Hunter College in New York, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1950. After leaving college, he held a series of odd jobs that included lobster salesman, reader at a literary agency, and high school teacher. He began his career in publishing in the early '50s under a variety of pseudonyms, none of which stuck until he wrote his first novel, FIND THE FEATHERED SERPENT (1952), under the Evan Hunter byline. At the urgings of his publisher, who claimed that Salvatore Lombino was too hard to pronounce and would hurt book sales, he had his name legally changed to Evan Hunter. Ed McBain was born shortly after Hunter produced the bestseller, THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, in 1954. An editor at Pocket Books thought Hunter might do well as a crime writer and designated him the successor to the company's popular mystery writer, Erle Stanley Gardner. Before Hunter penned the final pages of COP HATER, the first of the 87th Precinct novels, editors suggested he create a crime writer pseudonym to prevent damaging his career as a literary author. Appropriately enough, the setting for Hunter's most famous series of books is as fictional as his mystery writing alter ego. While based on his knowledge of New York City, the 87th Precinct is in fact an imagined location, a thinly veiled version of the city he knows so well. The series became one of the first in the mystery genre to feature a cast of characters as the focus, rather than a singular protagonist and include themes such as violence, drug dealing, corruption, and the search for justice in a chaotic, brutal world. Despite his success as a police procedural revolutionary, Hunter has, over the years, remained loyal to his true--or chosen--self by producing four children's books, two short story collections, three plays, more than 22 novels, and the screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock classic "The Birds."