cover image The Comedy Is Finished

The Comedy Is Finished

Donald E. Westlake. Hard Case Crime, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-85768-409-7

MWA Grand Master Westlake (1933–2008) shows his skill and versatility as an author in this posthumous crime novel. In 1977, the radical fervor that grew through the 1960s and early 1970s, fueled by the struggle for civil rights and the Vietnam War, has largely subsided, but a small group seeks to reignite passions by kidnapping comedian Koo Davis, known for his longstanding USO tours during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam in support of the troops. The snatch is perfectly planned and executed, but things soon start to fall apart for the bewildered Koo, the kidnappers, and the FBI agent leading the investigation, who hopes success will remove the taint his reputation suffered because of Watergate. Westlake provides a probing analysis of the kidnappers’ various and sometimes vague motivations, including their demands for the release of 10 “political” prisoners. Sharply written and insightful, this “lost” novel is a worthy addition to Westlake’s lengthy catalogue. Agent: Einstein-Thompson Agency. (Feb.)