by Donald Westlake
- reviewed by Scott Butki
Donald Westlake remains the master of
mysteries. I never miss his books.
And while his latest book, "The Hook," isn't
one of his best, his inferior works are still superior to those of his
colleagues. The book's hook is an intriguing one: a rich, popular New York City
author named Bryce Proctorr is going through a divorce and is thus unable to
write. He runs into a more prolific author, Wayne Prentice, whose book advances
have been shrinking in recent years.
His suggestion: Publish Prentice's book as his
own and split the big advance with him. The deal is quite attractive to
Prentice, who has had to print his last few novels under a pen name just to
keep afloat financially after computers tracking his sales suggest he's no
longer worth a large book advance.
But of course there's a catch: The author also
has to kill the guy's wife, ending the messy divorce.
Prentice initially says he couldn't do it... at
least not unless he meets the wife and finds her so annoying and mean that he
can fathom the idea.
And off the chilling story goes, in surprising
directions. The book not as funny as some of his better works. But as evil as
it is in parts it is also not as implausible as it would first appear.
Pick it up and you'll be hooked.
Butki is a prolific reader and writer, living in Hagerstown,