cover image Forever and a Death

Forever and a Death

Donald E. Westlake. Hard Case Crime, $22.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-78565-423-7

This high-stakes standalone from MWA Grand Master Westlake (1933–2008) originated as a script treatment that was never used for a 1990s James Bond movie, as film producer Jeff Kleeman reveals in a fascinating afterword. Businessman Richard Curtis is out for revenge against the entire city of Hong Kong, having been driven out of the place, recently returned to China, by “mainland bastards.” He and his mostly unwitting minions plot to steal the gold from Hong Kong’s bank vaults, remove it through tunnels crisscrossing under the city, and then set off explosions in the tunnels. The explosions will create a soliton wave, causing the ground to liquefy and the buildings above to come crashing down, killing thousands but covering his tracks. George Manville, a brilliant engineer, and Kim Baldur, a volunteer with an ecological guardian group, inadvertently interfere and then fall in and out of danger as they try to figure out and thwart Curtis’s plan. Credible characters and tangible suspense distinguish this highly readable thriller, which is longer and more complex than most of Westlake’s work. (June)