cover image Call Me a Cab

Call Me a Cab

Donald E. Westlake. Hard Case Crime, $14.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78909-818-1

Fans of Westlake (1933–­2008), the late master of crime capers both comic (The Hot Rock) and hard-boiled (Point Blank!), will not be disappointed in this perceptive romantic suspense novel. It’s an ordinary day for New York City cabbie Tom Fletcher when he picks up beautiful Katharine Scott. To his surprise, she asks how much it will cost to drive her to Los Angeles; her plastic surgeon boyfriend, Barry Gilbert, wants to marry her and she intends to use the five-day trip to make up her mind. So Tom and Katharine start off on a cross-country odyssey in his yellow Checker Marathon. Along the way, they flirt, fight, get on one another’s nerves, and develop a mutual respect that could possibly blossom into something more. The suspense derives from the question of whom Katharine will end up with—the cabbie or the plastic surgeon. Westlake expertly proves the old adage that it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Originally published in an abridged form in Redbook in 1978, the story is slight and dated (with references to the old Belmore Cafeteria and CB radios), but Tom and Katharine are charming leads. This entertaining story is as wistful as the theme from old episodes of Taxi. (Feb.)