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issue: 04/15/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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the hook
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The Hook
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.

Scott Butki is a prolific reader and writer, living in Hagerstown, Md.


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