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Review of Castle in the Air by Donald E. Westlake

Before I get into this brief review, I’d like to explain the kind of reviews I’ll be posting here. They’ll be short, firstly—150 to 250 words. Next, they’re things I want to read or watch. They're things I actually enjoyed; not going to be shitting on someone's hard work like an asshole. And lastly, a change from what I’d tried in the past, which mostly just got people attempting to find a side door around the slush pile, I’ll be doing all the reviews myself.

Not long ago, I’d caught that a new rerelease of a Donald Westlake was due out from Hard Case Crime, moments after that, I realized one had come out beyond my radar. I love the Hard Case covers, and new books don’t make me sneeze, so I’ll most likely wait for Charles Ardai to pop out another Westlake rather than searching for musty old copies, even though that means I’m only reading one or two a year.

Now, with the new one already on the shelves—Call Me a Cab came out in February—I grabbed last year's Westlake, Castle in the Air, from the Chapters in Nanaimo. This one follows an ingenious heist story concerning a crooked president of a small country looking to run off with the people’s loot. A criminal mastermind gets wind and puts together a team to re-steal the money.

There are many levels to the outrageous scheme, and they mostly go off without a hitch…until it’s time for the predictable double cross. What’s that saying, there’s no honor amongst thieves? The pacing is quick. The tone is light, coming across one part Pink Panther and another part that Abbott and Costello baseball joke, Who’s on First? The prose is clever and at times lyrical, more limerick than opera. The grand finale is good for a great big grin.

Not my favorite Westlake novel, but it’s a good one and well worth the time—doubly so as it’s a shorty. You can find more on it at the Hard Case Crime site.


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