Last year I posted about Ed McBain's Fairy Tale Series featuring Matthew Hope, a criminal lawyer in Florida. The series borrows from fairy tales, not necessarily in plot in my understanding, but still grabbing some tropes and characterizations. I've never read any of the series, but it sounds interesting if dark and gritty, definitely not cosy mysteries if that is your taste. McBain died in 2005 so the series has ended and was mostly out-of-print until this week when it is being released in ebook format. Hopefully it will never go out of print again through the beauty of ebook publishing. Even book cover images were elusive to find when I wrote my last post.
The first part of the series is published this week with the rest coming in October, except for the second to last book which has been released by a different publisher. If you have Amazon Prime, many of these books are free to borrow, too.
Here's the series in publication date order:
Goldilocks, the other woman. She didn’t have to be a blonde. She could have had hair as black as midnight, eyes as pale as alabaster. But she’d always be Goldilocks, stealing into your home, taking what she wanted as her own.
Jamie Purchase enters his home late one night to find the bloodless bodies of his wife and two daughters. It was no secret Jamie’s ex, Betty, hated the new wife—Goldilocks, she’d called her, and the name stuck. But could Betty hate Jamie’s new family enough to slaughter them? Lawyer Matthew Hope can believe it. He’s seen his fair share of heartache and deception, but he knows better than most that Goldilocks only wanders in when you’ve left the door wide open. And when that happens, everyone’s to blame. Now Hope must immerse himself in a family drama too close to home in order to find a cold-blooded killer.
From the thrilling Matthew Hope series, Ed McBain’s Goldilocks tests black-and-white morals and finds we’re all a little platinum blonde.
Rumpelstiltskin (Matthew Hope) (1981)
When Victoria Miller and her backing band, Wheat, broke out with a string of gold records in the sixties, the sultry chanteuse seemed shy of crowds, refusing to perform in public. Years after her last success, Victoria makes her stage debut, but the magic is long gone, and shortly after that, so is she—the victim of a brutal murder. Victoria’s six-year-old daughter, Allison, is missing too, but nobody’s come forward for a ransom. The only clue is a mysterious call—I’ll be stopping by to collect—but who’s collecting, and what? Even if Allison could be found, lawyer Matthew Hope can’t seem to locate Victoria’s missing will with Allison’s guardianship. And when Victoria’s old producer comes forward, claiming Victoria wasn’t quite the natural talent she’d seemed to be, Matthew’s left wondering who gave her the golden touch and why they’d take it back right now.
Part of Ed McBain’s masterful Matthew Hope series, Rumpelstiltskin finds the good-hearted lawyer in a plot where everyone’s a suspect, and all debts are paid in full.
Beauty and the Beast (Matthew Hope) (1982)
Matthew Hope is a divorce lawyer in the town of Calusa, Florida, where the Gulf waters are warm and the women on the beach topless. One such woman, Michelle Benois Harper—a striking beauty with cascading black hair—enters Matthew’s office revealing swollen eyes and a bruised and battered body. After making a statement with the cops saying her husband did it, her body is found on the beach, burned beyond recognition.
George N. Harper is a hulking man with pockmarks, flaring nostrils, and rheumy eyes—the ugliest accused man Matthew has ever seen. But something’s not quite right about the case—Harper loved his wife. Yet the cops and lawyers are ready to hang the man who could extinguish such a beautiful woman, and it’s up to Matthew to prove his innocence.
An instant classic in the Matthew Hope series from Ed McBain, Beauty and the Beast pairs the good-hearted lawyer with a client who tests his prejudices and proves beauty may be skin deep, but ugly is in the bones.
Jack and the Beanstalk (Matthew Hope) (1984)
Jack McKinney is a bright-eyed twenty-year-old in the business of buying a snapbean farm with forty grand in cash, and attorney Matthew Hope assists with the deal—until Jack’s found dead in his condo, stabbed fourteen times.
The backwoods seller wants his forty grand pronto, but nobody can find the cash. And when Matthew pays a visit to the McKinney ranch, he gets more than he bargained for. Jack’s mother, Veronica, is a woman who looks half her years, with cool gray eyes to match her ambivalent attitude toward her son’s death. The only thing more dangerous than Veronica is daughter Sunny, the mirror image of her mother and a girl who can hold her liquor. Everyone seems to have a theory about the missing money, but Matthew’s the only one who can get to the bottom of the bum deal.
The fourth installment of Ed McBain’s Matthew Hope Mysteries, Jack and the Beanstalk delivers our lawyer into a world of seedy folks, sour deals, and a family gone afoul.
Snow White and Rose Red (Matthew Hope) (1985)
Sarah Whittaker is a green-eyed beauty with a love for Danny Kaye and white knights. Lawyer Matthew Hope can see all this clearly, despite the fact that whenever they meet the two are under constant surveillance by the mental institution staff. You see, Sarah’s crazy…or is she? Sarah pleads with Matthew to take her case, claiming that her mother wrongfully had Sarah committed in order to seize her inheritance money. And while the mother and doctors in question seem shady, almost cloying in their belief that Sarah is a paranoid schizophrenic, Matthew can’t tell day from night, or Rose Red from Snow White. Meanwhile, the corpse of a woman about Sarah’s age washes ashore in a town nearby. Is there a connection? Is Sarah Whittaker really pure as snow? Is she the Virgin Queen she says she is? It’s up to Matthew to find out.
In Ed McBain’s Snow White and Rose Red, Matthew Hope plunges into the noir, twisted world of the most complicated of mysteries—the human mind.
Cinderella (Matthew Hope) (1986)
No description yet! Or cover image. Hmmm...
Puss in Boots (Matthew Hope) (1987)
A long shadow looms above her. Then a hand clamps over her mouth and a blade sinks into her back. Blood splatters on the film reel case beside her, and a young life is cut short.
Lawyer Matthew Hope gets a call from Carlton Markham, who’s been arrested for his filmmaker wife’s murder but says he didn’t do it. Witnesses fly forward to proclaim his guilt, but Markham’s not giving up that easily on his innocence. And when Matthew digs deeper into the victim’s business—from heavy financial backers to sleazy egomaniacs—he finds she may not have been the perfect lady she had seemed. The one piece of evidence that could set Markham free and finger the real killer is the victim’s film reel. Only it’s gone, along with the film’s sexy star. Now Matthew needs to infiltrate the seedy side of the film industry in order to find the missing reel and solve the murder.
From master storyteller Ed McBain, Puss in Boots is another Matthew Hope Mystery classic, the tale of a woman who aimed too high and the many men who fell for it all.
The House that Jack Built (Matthew Hope) (1988)
The morning after Jonathan Parrish’s fortieth birthday party, the guest of honor is found lying dead in a pool of his own blood. Police arrive at the scene to find his older brother, Ralph, covered in red and clutching the murder weapon.
From behind bars, Ralph insists he didn’t do it. He claims he heard a scream from the other room, saw a man dressed in black running away, and rushed to pull the fatal blade from Jonathan’s chest. But his explanations don’t sway the Florida police, especially when several witnesses saw the brothers arguing about Jonathan’s homosexual lifestyle the night before.
But attorney Matthew Hope believes Ralph—call it instinct, call it a hunch, Matt’s law partner, Frank Summerville, calls it Matt’s “code.” But with Frank too distraught over his crumbling marriage to pitch in this time, Matthew enlists private eye Warren Chambers to help prove Ralph’s innocence. And with few clues to go by, the duo will have to dig through a world of closet cases, secret trysts, and a community on edge to capture the real killer.
Three Blind Mice (Matthew Hope) (1990)
When three Vietnamese immigrants are found murdered and savagely mutilated in Calusa, Florida, police finger wealthy landowner Stephen Leeds as the prime suspect. The now-deceased trio had recently been acquitted of raping Leeds’s wife, Jessie. From his jail cell, Leeds insists that, while they may have gotten what they deserved, he didn’t dispense the vigilante justice.
That’s enough for attorney Matthew Hope to take on the case. But every piece of evidence ties his client to the grisly killings, from Leeds publicly vowing to avenge his wife’s assault to the discovery of his wallet at the scene. And it doesn’t help matters that Hope is going up against Assistant State Attorney Patricia Demming, who is dead-set on seeing Leeds fry for the crime.
Acclaimed author and fan favorite Ed McBain blends powerful suspense with master storytelling for a thrilling and charged tale of two men—one whose life hangs in the balance and one who must follow a convoluted trail of secrets, seduction, and sabotage to get to the truth.
Mary, Mary (1993)
When the bodies of three young girls are unearthed in Mary Barton’s garden, the retired Florida schoolteacher insists she didn’t do it. But an eyewitness—the woman next door—has a different story: she swears she saw “Mary, Mary quite contrary,” so called by her neighbors, burying something the night before. Mary’s former student Melissa Lowdnes can’t believe the fun-loving teacher she once knew could ever carry out a murder—much less three—and seeks the help of lawyer Matthew Hope. Matthew only takes on clients he feels are innocent, and he’s got a hunch that Mary could be telling the truth—that is, when she isn’t ranting about the neighbors she feels have done her wrong. Matthew follows clues and builds a solid defense, but his strategy runs into a major setback: he’s going up against “killer” assistant district attorney Patricia Hemming, and she’s got an offer on the table that compromises the entire case.
Good fences make guilty neighbors in this suspenseful thriller from crime-fiction master Ed McBain.
There Was a Little Girl (1994)
Attorney Matthew Hope lies in a coma after catching two bullets to the chest outside a Calusa, Florida, bar. That he was anywhere near the seedy establishment is a bit of irony; he had recently taken a break from the criminal side of his practice after his last case made him question his instincts as a defender.
Now it’s up to Hope’s friends and associates—PI pals Warren Chambers and Toots Kiley, law partner Frank Summerville, police detective Morris Bloom, and girlfriend Patricia Demming—to retrace the attorney’s steps and piece together just who wants him dead. The puzzling and sinister trail leads to a big Florida land deal, a kinky circus troupe, and a seductive woman—no taller than a yardstick—who’s been brutally killed. The answer to the riddle lies with Hope, who, even in unconsciousness, replays the events leading up to the shooting. But can he wake up in time to name the killer before someone puts him to sleep for good?
From master of suspense Ed McBain comes a Matthew Hope series classic that opens with a bang—or two.
Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear (Matthew Hope Mysteries) (1996)
Lainie Commins, a freelance designer of children's toys, hires attorney Matthew Hope for a lawsuit against her old employers, Brett and Etta Toland. At stake are the lucrative rights to Gladly, a teddy bear with crossed eyes and corrective lenses. It's a straightforward case--until Brett Toland is shot in the throat aboard his luxury yacht and Lainie becomes the chief suspect.
The Last Best Hope (1998)
Leggy Jill Lawton sits in Matthew Hope’s law office, hoping he can help her acquire a divorce. There are just two problems: first, Hope is a criminal attorney, and second, Mr. Lawton has vanished. Jill wants Hope and his crew to track down her husband’s whereabouts so she can get on with her new life. But when a body washes up with a bullet hole for a face and Jack Lawton’s driver’s license in its pocket, it appears the case is closed…except the victim is not Jill Lawton’s missing husband.
Now Hope must team up with the 87th Precinct’s Detective Steve Carella to ID the dead man and hunt down a deadbeat. What the two discover is an underworld of theft, lies, murder, and kink—where all the players have something, or someone, to hide.
Bringing together two of Ed McBain’s most engaging characters, The Last Best Hope is a pulse-pounding ride that brings the Matthew Hope series to a twisted conclusion.