- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Donald Westlake is the reigning master of the comic caper novel. His best-known books (The Hot Rock, Bank Shot, Why Me?) feature John Dortmunder, a highly skilled professional thief whose habitual hard luck derails countless brilliantly conceived schemes and scams. Put a Lid on It isn't a Dortmunder novel, but it's a clear-cut blood relation: a funny, cunningly constructed story of crime and politics that no one but Westlake could have written.
Westlake's hero this time out is Francis Xavier Meehan, another star-crossed criminal facing a possible life sentence for "accidentally" hijacking an unmarked mail truck. Meehan's luck changes -- or seems to, at least -- when a glib politician named Pat Jeffords -- a junior member of the incumbent president's campaign committee -- makes him an extraordinary offer. The president, Meehan learns, has committed a major political indiscretion, evidence of which exists in the form of a highly damaging videotape. The opposition has acquired this tape and plans to use it as an "October surprise" to tip the balance of a hotly contested presidential campaign. Having absorbed one of the more salient lessons of Watergate, the campaign committee have decided to hire a professional burglar to locate and steal the tape. Their burglar-of-choice is, of course, Francis Meehan.
Offered the opportunity to win his freedom by doing what comes naturally, Meehan signs on and finds himself enmeshed in a convoluted pursuit that ranges from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the Massachusetts estate of an aging millionaire who makes Hitler look like a paragon of liberal thought. Along the way, Meehan encounters a bright, tough lady lawyer, an Israeli/Egyptian espionage team, an assortment of small-time, street-smart criminals, and a number of highly polished political types with an impressive capacity for lies, larceny, and betrayal. The result is a first-rate entertainment filled with deadpan humor, sudden reversals, and acute observations of the American political animal in action.
Put a Lid on It may not be the author's funniest novel, or his most ambitious, but it's a solid, assured example of that peculiar blend of action, suspense, and out-and-out comedy that Westlake does better than anyone. (Bill Sheehan)