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MONEY FOR NOTHING

Donald E. Westlake, Author . Mysterious $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-89296-787-2

Prolific MWA Grand Master Westlake's latest novel has neither the engaging characters of his Dortmunder series nor the comic zing of his previous stand-alone, Put a Lid On It (2002), but it does offer an entertaining answer to the timeless debate over whether anything in life is ever truly free. Josh Redmont, a struggling New York office temp, receives a $1,000 check in the mail from United States Agent, a firm he's never heard of and, despite his best attempts, is unable to contact. He decides to deposit the check, and it clears. So begins the biggest mistake of his life, as checks arrive each month for the next seven years, seemingly a tax-free error in his favor. Then one day a man on the Fire Island ferry tells Redmont he's from U.S. Agent and states, "You are now active." By now a successful advertising executive with a wife and young son, Redmont finds his life turned upside-down as he's drawn into a terrorist plot to assassinate a visiting dignitary. His only hope is a disgruntled operative, Nimrin, who originally "recruited" him as a mole or sleeper agent without his knowledge. With time running out, Redmont must find two other moles recruited by Nimrin and turn the tables on the terrorists. Westlake creates a fascinating scenario, yet fails to fully develop Redmont and his fellow players. Some of the lesser characters are often more interesting than Redmont, who for all his charm and wit still comes across as a rather dull yuppie. Mystery Guild Featured Alternate.(Apr. 26)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
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