THE CRIME WAS OVER IN A MINUTE – THE CONSQUENCES LASTED A LIFETIME
Hospitalized after a liaison with another man’s wife ends in violence, Paul Cole has just one goal: to rebuild his shattered life. But with his memory damaged, the police hounding him, and no way even to get home, Paul’s facing steep odds – and a bleak fate if he ...
THE CRIME WAS OVER IN A MINUTE –
THE CONSQUENCES LASTED A LIFETIME
Hospitalized after a liaison with another man’s wife ends in violence, Paul Cole has just one goal: to rebuild his shattered life. But with his memory damaged, the police hounding him, and no way even to get home, Paul’s facing steep odds – and a bleak fate if he fails…
This final, never-before-published novel by three-time Edgar Award winner Donald E. Westlake is a noir masterpiece, a dark and painful portrait of a man’s struggle against merciless forces that threaten to strip him of his very identity.
The career of late MWA Grand Master Westlake (1933–2009) spans 50 years with the appearance of this elegant, melancholy novel, written in the 1960s and never before published. Actor Paul Cole is on tour when he sleeps with the wrong married woman, and her husband puts him in the hospital, from which he emerges with short- and long-term memory problems. As he makes his way from the Midwest to his home in New York City, Paul struggles to remember his past and build a future while existing in limbo: unable to keep appointments with doctors or the unemployment office, meeting countless people too caught up in their own agendas or bureaucracies to help him. Lovely language and the overall discourse on the consequences of thoughtlessness make this a significant final work from a master. (Apr.)
Although acclaimed crime novelist Westlake died a year ago, he was so prolific that new work continues to emerge. This title, purportedly written in the 1960s (when a 15-day hospital stay cost less than $500), follows actor Paul Cole after a fight leaves him with a severe case of amnesia. Nearly broke and abandoned by his tour company in a small Midwestern town, he struggles to resume life—a near impossibility since he can remember no details about his former existence. Writing more a psychological study than a mystery, Westlake painstakingly plots Cole's progress as he tries desperately to discover and then return to his former life, drawing on only the few meager clues that the items in his suitcase provide. VERDICT The three-time Edgar winner and Mystery Writers of America Grand Master left a huge body of work as well as a devoted following. Noir fans will be eager to jump on this "found" work even though it's different from much of his later more comedic work. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 12/09.]—Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR
Donald E. Westlake is widely regarded as one of the great crime writers of the 20th Century. He won three Edgar Awards and was named a Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America. Many of his books have been made into movies; Westlake also wrote the screenplay for The Grifters, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.