Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Donald Westlake: Worth Another Read

What makes a Donald Westlake book into such a good vacation from reality? I mean, gritty, New York based, urban -- but somehow fun. Well, I think it goes beyond the hilarity of the plots. I recently re-read Put a Lid On It (Warner Books, 2002) and I've got a notion. But first, the plot: When dedicated thief Francis Xavier Meehan, serving time in the Manhattan Correctional Center, hears he’s getting a visit from his lawyer, things smell fishy. For one thing, it isn’t his lawyer. For another, this urbane fellow turns out to be representing someone in Washington, DC, who wants Meehan to handle a political twist that he’s especially competent to undertake: burglary. And if you think that’s funny, just wait until you read the rest of this light-hearted caper, a classic Westlake page-turner in which the real sophisticates turn out to be the thieves – and their friends. Come to think of it, the reliably wacky friendships really make it a Westlake. Oh yeah, and the sticky situations that turn out to be solvable through a bit of underhanded plotting that outdoes the Washington crowd any way you like! Personal conclusion: Any mystery where the friends pull you through is going to have potential for re-reading. (That includes S. J. Rozan, Andrew Vachss, and I'm open to suggestions. Blog or e-mail.)

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