Alice In Jeopardy - Ed McBain "There's nothing like early retirement to make a man feel dead." I can attest to this quote from Ed McBain's excellent tale of a woman whose children are kidnapped. She is struggling to make a living as a real estate agent in Florida following the accidental death of her husband when he fell from a boat. In the meantime, her son was so traumatized by his father's death, he has become mute and Alice, on the cusp of making her first house sale with the prospect of a badly needed commission, is hit by a car and has her ankle broken. Could things possibly get worse? Well, they do as the kids are kidnapped and the cops in the small town seem reminiscent of the Keystone Kops not to mention jurisdictional fighting with the feds.

There are some marvelous set pieces. As they sit in the living room and Alice becomes more frustrated with the cops, a blond woman in a red mustang pulls into the driveway. It's Jennifer Redding, the woman who hit Alice the day before. She thanks Alice for not calling the police, they discuss whether it's better for Jennifer or Alice to report the accident, the kind of small talk at which McBain excels. Then Jennifer offers Alice a box of chocolate, "everybody likes chocolate, right?" and then in a marvelous scene hints that wouldn't it be nice if Alice offered her some pieces of candy from the box she was just given. Brings a smile to your face.

Not at all your usual McBain and the 87th Precinct.