by Donald E. Westlake
Put a Lid on It
Mysterious Press, April, 2002.
Hardcover, 247 pages.
Career thief Francis Xavier Meehan is sitting in a federal prison reflecting on his simple truck robbery that went terribly wrong, when a) he was caught and b) the contents of the truck turned the crime into a federal offense. One day a visitor arrives who offers him a deal: a clear record if he will steal some very incriminating evidence which, if exposed, will send the president of the United States to jail as opposed to being sent back to the White House after the upcoming elections. The president's reelection committee has learned this much from Watergate: never hire an amateur to do a professional's job. Being the hardened cynic he is, Meehan agrees to do the job only if he gets to steal something else of value while he's at it (a guy's got to make a profit, right?) and the politicos must put his deal in writing, as vetted by his court-appointed, street smart attorney. Meehan sets out to pull off the theft, but it looks like his Washington cronies are just as incompetent as he suspected. Now there are multiple parties in the game and Meehan will have to play his cards very carefully if he wants to survive his latest and greatest caper.
No one does the fast and funny caper quite like Donald Westlake. Put a Lid on It pokes fun at political dirty tricks, big money, and the big lies that come out of the mouths of politicians. Meehan himself is quite a character: he has 10,000 rules for living, an amazing aptitude to size up people, and the ability to remain calm in a crisis. With the help of some pals in the business and his feisty lawyer, Meehan may just manage to pull off a job that will set him for life. Donald Westlake is a Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster, and he is equally at home writing comedy or darker novels. His pacing is fast, and his prose is lean and spare. Put a Lid On It is fast-paced, funny and very entertaining.
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This review was published in the July-August, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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