The Last Best Hope - Ed McBain McBain, pseudonym for Evan Hunter and author of The Blackboard Jungle, writes a series of novels featuring Matthew Hope, a Florida lawyer, in addition to his regular and quite good 87th Precinct police procedurals. The 87th Precinct is not entirely absent from this novel, because Matthew calls them to help discover the whereabouts of Jack Laughton. Jill, Jack's wife, has hired Matthew to find him, ostensibly because she wants to complete divorce proceedings. Matthew soon discovers that Jack's disappearance may be linked to the murder of an Ernest Corrington, an ex-convict with a felony burglary record.

Jack had been sharing an apartment with Corrington in New York. As Detective Steve Corella continues to investigate Jack for Matthew in New York, it emerges that Ernest and Jack had been involved with a girl named Holly Sinclair, but whose real name is Melaney Schwartz and that Melaney had been involved in a menage-à-trois with Jack and Jill in Florida. It seems she had traveled down there to propose a double-cross to Jill. Jack and his friends had planned to steal a rare Greek cup. What made this cup so valuable was that it was in the style and location of cups kept after having been used to administer hemlock to state criminals in Athens, and this particular cup had Ee5 inscribed on the bottom, making it valuable indeed. Melaney plans to conspire with Jill to steal the cup from Jack after he has stolen it from the museum in Florida where it is to be displayed. A Greek magnate has offered to pay $2.5 million for the cup.

The novel really picks up speed as we are treated to the convergence of each actor in this drama. Matthew and his girlfriend Patty, who announces that she wants to marry someone else, and his ex-wife Susan, who announces that she'd really like to get back together with Matthew, are at the opening of the show at the museum where Jack and two confederates are hidden in the basement after having killed the two outside security guards, intending to steal the cup before it can be locked in the vault. Jill, in the meantime, has shaken a couple of cops who had been tailing her, but decides to confront another person who is following her as she is on her way to kill Jack and to steal the cup from him. The other person tailing her was Denafrio, who also wants to kill Jack because Jack had taken up with Melaney, his former girlfriend, and he thinks that Jack might have killed Melaney. He doesn't know that Melaney has already been killed by Jill, who wants the proceeds of the sale of the cup all for herself. Got that? McBain's writing in this series is much more satirical and humorous. The scene where Jill and Denafrio are waiting for the boat to arrive to pick up Jack is very funny. He's talking about his first name, Peter, which he thinks is really important, it being the name of a saint and all. Jill then mentions all the other things it has been associated with and tells him that in England women knit "willie warmers" for Christmas. Matthew, somewhat drunk and washing his hands in the bathroom, remembers a study that showed that 60% of men don't wash their hands before leaving the bathroom so he swears he'll never shake hands with men again. He's also sure that hand-drying-blowers were invented by the same Nazi scientist who invented panty hose.