Grofield heard the interest in Tebelman’s voice, and was tempted to go into a whole explanation about being an actor in a pre-technological sense–he had the feeling Tebelman’s attitudes would be basically similar–but something about the presence of Barnes, his cigarette a red dot in the darkness, inhibited him. Barnes, he knew, was the more typical heister; a professional with only this one profession, who found all his satisfactions, financial and otherwise, within the one area. Tebelman was the only other person like himself Grofield had ever met in this business.
And Tebelman’s question was hanging in the darkness, awaiting an answer. More conscious of Barnes’ presence than he would have been in a lighted room where he could see the man, Grofield said, “I’m an actor. I own a summer theater.”
“Isn’t there money in that?”
“Hardly. Not with movies and television.
“Ah.” There was a little silence, then, until Tebelman said, “You know, there’s a school of thought that says the artist and the criminal are variants on the same basic personality type. Did you know that?”
Grofield was sorry now the conversation had gotten started at all. “No, I didn’t,” he said.
“That art and crime are both antisocial acts,” Tebelman said. “There’s a whole theory about it. The artist and the criminal both divorce themselves from society by their life patterns, they both tend to be loners, they both tend to have brief periods of intense activity and then long periods of rest. There’s a lot more.”
“Interesting,” Grofield said.
Obviously, when I started Lemons Never Lie, I had no idea it would be the last appearance of Alan Grofield, who had ridden shotgun in six Parker novels, The Score, The Handle, Slayground, Deadly Edge, Plunder Squad and Butcher’s Moon, as well as taking the wheel himself three other times, in The Damsel, The Dame and The Blackbird. He was good company, and then he went away.
I’d brought him aboard in the first place to try to lighten up Parker, which was clearly not going to happen. Still, might Parker find the need for his presence again, some time down the road? Don’t ask me.
What pleases me most about Lemons Never Lie is that it was the only time I can think of where I invented a plot structure. That structure, which is not an arc but three bounces, each one higher, was new, I believe. And Alan Grofield was the perfect unruffled guy to do it. Enjoy. ~DEW
I don’t know when or for what Westlake wrote that squib about how he didn’t know Lemons Never Lie would be the last Grofield novel. I snipped that from the Official Westlake Blog, and it reads like a hastily written introduction for a paperback reprint, but I don’t really know. I know it must have been quite a few years after he wrote the book, because he says it’s Grofield’s last appearance (which it isn’t) and that Grofield appears in Deadly Edge and Plunder Squad (which he doesn’t). I have to keep reminding myself what I wrote on this blog a few months ago, so hardly surprising.
I’d assume he wrote that brief commentary after he’d started producing Parker novels again in the late 90’s, and was still figuring out how to make the four decade old series feel current and credible. An alternate universe version of Grofield (who had sold out and become a prosperous star of film and TV) periodically appeared in the Dortmunder books. Grofield never appeared in a Stark novel after Butcher’s Moon. Maybe Westlake just felt the concept of an actor/heister committing armed robberies under the same (very uncommon) name that he acted under made no sense anymore in the Information Age that even Parker was just barely making out in.
So this is the last Grofield novel–it wasn’t planned as such, doesn’t read as such, and yet somehow it kind of works as such. A sort of summing up, you might say. It’s very different than the previous three, not least in that it isn’t a sequel to a Parker novel (like The Damsel and The Dame) nor does it share an opening scene with a Parker novel (like The Blackbird).
Nor is it set in some exotic foreign clime. Nor does it have a title referring to a female character. Nor does it put Grofield into some situation he isn’t familiar with, referring to a different genre of fiction, such as mystery or espionage. Nor does Grofield sleep with some beautiful stranger in this book–he does get it on with a hot brunette, but as the punchline goes ‘That was no lady, that was my wife.’ And turns out she really is some lady.
It does, like the others, refer to Parker, remind us of Grofield’s connection to him (there’s even a brief cameo by Handy McKay). Westlake was well aware of the fact that Grofield had not developed much of an independent fanbase, and that Grofield’s readership was, in the main, a subset of Parker’s.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the book is that it actually shows Grofield working in the theater–his own personal theater, located way out in the sticks, in rural Indiana. Not acting, but more mundane tasks, like washing out stage ‘flats’ to be repainted, talking with Mary about plays they might put on, actors they might recruit. And of course raising the needed funds to put on these plays, and when Alan Grofield talks fund-raising for his highly unprofitable theatrical ventures, he doesn’t mean pledge drives and tote bags.
Grofield appeared in eight out of twenty-eight Richard Stark novels, and we never see him acting in a play in even one of them, unless you count him sitting by himself in a corner at the hideout in The Score, playing all parts in a scene from Henry IV Part One. We’re told he’s good, and that with his talent and looks he could find work in television anytime he wanted, maybe even become a big star, but his dedication to live theater makes him rule that out categorically. He would rather steal than sell out.
There’s a passage in this book that possibly explains why we never see Grofield acting on stage–he’s contemplating the sorry state of his and Mary’s finances, and lamenting that no heisting work seems imminent–
If worst came to worse he’d drop down into Kentucky or North Carolina for a week or two of writing paper, but he hated that kind of thing, and avoided it whenever he possibly could. Passing bum checks was no more illegal than knocking over armored cars, but there was a difference he found important; a check passer is an actor, he uses an actor’s talent and methods, but a heavy heister uses different talents entirely. It bothered Grofield to use his acting abilities that way, it seemed somehow degrading.
You just know that if they ever did a movie or a TV show based on Grofield, we’d see him acting all the time–they’d want to show us both his professions, to get that visual contrast, hammer home the premise, the primary conceit of the story. It would get very cute and contrived, very fast–but they’d have to do it. Stark, like Grofield, doesn’t want to make that compromise. He wants to keep things clean and uncluttered, like he always does.
That business about floating bad checks reminds me of what some of Dortmunder’s associates were doing between jobs in The Hot Rock, and again we see the odd doorway that seems to exist between the Stark-verse and the Dortmunder dimension, that is particularly noticeable when Grofield is around. He isn’t really a Stark character, even in this book–he’s still a Westlake character who ended up in a bunch of Stark novels.
And Mary Grofield (nee Deegan), former switchboard girl in Copper Canyon, North Dakota, who met Grofield in The Score (which we’re told–I don’t know how accurately–was about four years before the events of this book), and insisted on tagging along with him at considerable risk to her life, because the life she had was so damned unsatisfactory–well, this is the last really good look we get at her, which I find personally frustrating, because she’s one of my favorite supporting characters in Westlake’s books.
We finally find out her hair color–black–and her figure–neat and compact–and that she looks like the heroine of a 30’s musical, whatever that means (Ruby Keeler?). But in a sense, I would argue, she jumped over to the world of Dortmunder as well, in even more altered form.
She’s working in a local supermarket, we’re told–making just enough money for her and Grofield to get by, if they sleep on the stage of their theater–and she’s bringing home groceries from her workplace, only some of which are paid for. And she has this rationale that what Grofield does when he’s not acting isn’t really stealing, because he’s mainly just taking from institutions who should be giving us money anyhow.
Make her a bit less of a fantasy, a smidgen more grounded in reality, put a cigarette in her mouth, take the ‘r’ out of her name, and you’ve got May–Dortmunder’s best girl, who we’ll be meeting very soon. Mitch Tobin’s wife also worked at a supermarket to help pay the bills, but the noble Kate would never take so much as a stick of gum she hadn’t paid for. Mary and May, like Kate Tobin, are hardworking and low-maintenance–but much more ethically flexible in other respects–like Claire Carroll.
And this whole darkhaired-wife-working-at-supermarket leitmotif we see over and over in Westlake’s books makes me wonder about those early days of Westlake’s first marriage, when he was still struggling to make it as a writer, but I should know better by now than to ask questions I have no means of learning the answers to.
I have now read this book twice, and I must confess, I don’t see that thing Westlake refers to–the new plot structure. It’s different from a Parker, sure–the entire story is from Grofield’s perspective, but that was true of The Dame and The Blackbird as well. He divides it into five parts, each of which begins with Chapter One, and each of which is named after the place it’s set in–Las Vegas, Mead Grove Indiana, St. Louis–then there’s a part called ‘Moving’, which starts in Mead Grove, then has Grofield traveling around, and the final part is set in good old Monequois, New York–this time it’s an isolated town a few miles from the Canadian border, with a brewery in it. Why not?
I don’t quite see the three bounces. I don’t know what he’s talking about. This is probably because I’m not a writer of fiction, accustomed to mapping out plots. Is it something entirely new? I have no idea. Somebody wants to explain it to me, I’d be only too pleased.
I just know it’s very much a Stark novel, and yet still very different in both tone and structure from a Parker novel. It’s the most successful attempt Westlake ever made to write under the Stark name without writing about Parker, and yet I can’t possibly agree with Paul Kavanagh, who called it ‘The best Richard Stark ever’–it’s definitely not the worst, but it’s very very far from the best. The fact that Paul Kavanagh is one of Lawrence Block’s pen names makes me suspect he was tossing his buddy a blurb.
But anyway, just to be different, let me synopsize sectionally this time:
Las Vegas: The shortest section of the book, this sets up the main storyline–it begins with Grofield winning a few nickels at a slot machine at the airport, which he considers an ill omen, since he got three lemons–his old hex sign. He gives the money to a couple there on vacation, and they start gambling with it, and losing, and we’re told he feels slightly guilty about getting them started. Just to remind us, this is not a Parker novel.
Grofield is there about a job, which is planned by a guy named Myers. Myers is clearly an amateur, and as all us Stark readers know by know, amateurs spell trouble. Myers says there’s this brewery in Monequois that still has a cash payroll (a rare thing even back when the first Parker novel came out, and getting rarer all the time). It’s supposed to be about 120 grand. He wants to plant a bomb inside the brewery, then come in with a fire engine, thus getting past the guards.
(Yes, it does sound a lot like the heist in Flashfire, doesn’t it? That’s one of the few Parker novels I’d say is probably not quite as good as this one. Lemons Never Lie would be easier to film, it’s more self-contained, and has the better title–way better than Parker. Maybe they should have made this book into a movie, with Jason Statham as Grofield, except who’d buy him as a professional actor? Oh, that was mean.)
Grofield walks out of the meet before Myers finishes his pitch. The plan is full of holes. It involves killing a lot of civilians, which he says doesn’t bother him morally (I don’t quite believe that, somehow), but the law would come after them much harder. And to make things worse, Myers actually cleared the job with the local chapter of The Outfit, and they’re going to get a percentage of the proceeds (nobody there can believe he thinks that’s what real heisters do).
He’s got what’s described as an eastern boarding school accent, and he’s got all these props and notes, reminiscent of Edgars from The Score, but not out to settle an old score this time. Still not a guy whose professionalism can be trusted–on any level. Grofield wants to work, but not that much. He’s outta there.
He’s joined by the one heister there he’s worked with before, Dan Leach, a big tough taciturn fellow, rather like Parker, but not nearly as smart. Dan feels like doing some gambling before he flies home, and wins a nice pile at the craps tables. Then two guys show up at Grofield’s motel room, looking for the money. When they realize he doesn’t have it, they knock him out. Then Dan wakes him up, mad as hell, because the same two guys robbed him, and he figures Grofield tipped them. Grofield knows better–it was Myers and his flunky. Dan heads off looking for them, and Grofield heads home sourly, brooding on those lemons.
Mead Grove, Indiana: Grofield is back home at his threadbare community theater (a converted barn, like Mickey and Judy used to sing and dance in) that he bought with the money from the Cockaigne heist. The same money, we should remember, that was delivered to Mary by a beautiful blonde Philadelphian in support stockings who had just spent several weeks in bed with Mary’s husband, and no we never do find out how that went over.
So he’s washing out flats, and thinking about how he’s going to come up with the roughly 10g’s he needs to put on a season of repertory (he’d hate to have to only do public domain stuff), and then Dan Leach drives up and turns out he’s got Myers in the trunk, and is debating what to do with him. Grofield figures he should either kill him or let him go. Grofield also kind of wishes Dan had left him out of it. He refuses to put Myers on ice until Dan can figure something out, so Dan heads off, with Myers still en-trunked.
(Sidebar: Trying to convince Leach and Grofield that he can be useful to them, Myers tells a story about a new heist, involving an apartment full of money stolen by some guys who are serving a long stretch in prison near L.A. They dug a tunnel, and they go out at night and do little heists, stow the cash, then go back to their cells. They’re trying to build up a nest egg for their families, since they’re too old to feel like living on the outside again. It turns out Myers was just making it all up, but Grofield thinks it’s a nice story, all the same. So did Westlake, who actually got a letter from a convict fan of his, telling a similar story–he made much more extensive use of it in a later book, that I like even better than this one–Stark doesn’t always top Westlake–not by any means).
What follows the departure of Leach and Myers is a very cozy domestic scene (domestic by Grofield standards, anyway), with Grofield and Mary having a nice meal together, cooked on a hot plate, and then he and Mary have a nice married screw, and fall asleep wrapped around each other, on a sofa located onstage (this would definitely not play in Peoria). He’s different with her, it must be said. He’s always putting on a mask with the other women, and with her he’s just–Grofield. Whoever that is.
We’re told he’s out of his mind for her, and we believe it, and we still know he’ll be cheating on her next time he meets some fetching blonde in another state, and being no dummy maybe she knows it too, and doesn’t care that much, as long as it’s not happening where she can see it. He’ll always come back to her. Until he doesn’t, of course. She had a pretty good idea what she was getting into, one surmises, when she saw him coming into the switchboard room in Copper Canyon, wearing a mask, and carrying a gun. A ‘meet cute’ they call it in the movies.
So Grofield wakes up with his wife’s neat compact little body wrapped around him, and hears a noise, and turns out it’s Dan Leach, and he’s been stabbed a few times. Myers got the jump on him–these Stark amateurs have their moments. Grofield and Mary take care of him for a few weeks, and then Grofield gets a call about a job in St. Louis, and it sounds like a good one. Summer repertory, here we come. So he leaves Mary alone there, still tending to Leach, and we all know this is not a good idea, but work is work.
St. Louis: This is the heist part of the book, and enjoy it, because it’s the only heist we ever see Grofield pull in any of his solo adventures. About damn time, Stark.
Grofield checks into the hotel in St. Louis, where there’s a message for him to go to a bar in East St. Louis, and Westlake did love to write about that Jekyll & Hyde of a twin city, with the prim proper Vincente Minnelli town on the Missouri side of the river, and the nasty gritty good time town over on the Illinois side.
So after finding his contact at the bar, they head for the meet, where he gets the lowdown, from a good group of pros–there’s this supermarket, not far out of town, Food King (there is an actual Food King in Baltimore, but probably no relation, and no they didn’t get looted last month, far as I can tell).
Grofield got his start robbing a supermarket, you’ll recall. This one’s near a military base, and everybody there gets paid by check, so twice a month the supermarket needs to have a lot of cash on hand, because the military wives need to cash the checks and buy a lot of groceries. Why do I like reading about this kind of job so much better than some elaborate casino heist or like that? Somehow, Stark is always at his best in relatively mundane surroundings.
The money is in a big old safe, that one of the crew knows how to crack. There was an attempted heist a few years back, some soldiers who didn’t know what they were doing and got caught, so the sheriff’s deputies watch the place closely, and it’s going to take some careful planning, but it’s doable. Grofield is no planner, but he can see that in spite of a few irregularities (meeting too close to the scene of the crime), this is going to work out okay. We’ve all seen how Stark sets these things up–there’s yet another road trip to buy a truck–that makes how many now?–and it never gets old. This is the longest section of the book, very satisfying to read, but also the most predictable, so I’ll just skip ahead now.
They get the money–nothing huge, 13k a man, but that’s all Grofield needs. There’s a message at the hotel desk from Mary–several, in fact. He goes up to his room, and guess who’s there–Myers and a new sideman, name of Brock–Myers murdered the last one, and Grofield tries to tell Brock about that, but does anybody ever listen to Grofield when he’s handing out good advice? He’s the Cassandra of crime.
So there’s a struggle, and he loses the suitcase with the money, but he gets away. Those lemons are just brutally truthful, you know? Would it kill them to lie a little sometimes?
Moving: Grofield gets back to Mary, knowing from what little she could tell him over the phone that something went terribly wrong–he can guess–Myers showed up and got his location out of her. But he left her alive, and in his laconic way, Stark makes you understand that part of Grofield would have died with her. Leach, of course, got finished off for keeps–there is something to be said for Parker’s policy of killing anybody who takes money away from him on general principle–Leach just wasn’t a killer at heart, so he got done in by a lousy amateur, who didn’t follow the playbook.
Grofield finds Mary in the actress’ dressing room–she’s as much a professional as him, of course. One reason she means more to him than anyone else. She really took one for the team this time.
She was sitting at the make-up table, doing nothing, and when he walked into the room their eyes met in the mirror and he saw no expression in her face at all. He’d never seen her face so completely empty before, and he thought, That’s what she’ll look like in her coffin. And he ran across the room to pull her to her feet and clamp his arms tightly around her, as though she were in danger of freezing to death and he had to keep her warm.
At first she was unmoving and unalive, and then she began violently to tremble, and finally she began to cry, and then she was all right.
They were together fifteen minutes before they started to talk. Grofield had made soothing noises and said words to reassure her before that, but there had been no real talk. Now she said, “I don’t want to tell you about it. Is it all right?”
“It’s all right.” She was sitting again, and he was on one knee in front of her, rubbing his hands up and down her arms, still as though trying to keep her warm and alive.
“I don’t want to talk about it ever.”
“You don’t have to. I know what happened; I don’t need the details.”
She looked at him, and her expression was odd–intense, and somehow sardonic. She said, “You know what happened?”
He didn’t understand. They’d come here, Myers and Brock. They’d killed Dan Leach. They’d forced Mary to tell them where Grofield was, and what name he was using. What else?
She saw his face change when he realized what else, and she closed her eyes. Her whole face closed, it seemed; it went back to the expression he’d seen when he’d first walked in here.
He pulled her close again. “All right,” he said. “All right.”
Somehow you know this would never happen to Claire. Not that you’d need to actually rape Claire to have Parker coming after you with death in his mind. But Grofield isn’t Parker–his mind doesn’t work that way. Steal from him, try to kill him, even threaten his wife, and he may have unkind thoughts about you, but he won’t necessarily feel the need to come after you. He’s not the vengeance type, and he’s not a wolf in human form, either. He kills when he has to, not to scratch an itch in his head. But this is different. Possibly the only person in the world he gives a damn about, other than himself, has been violated. Even if he’s just playing a role here, it’s a role that was first cast a long time before the theater came into being.
They make love later on–just to take the bad taste out of both their mouths. Mary doesn’t really want him to go after Myers, but then again, maybe she does a bit, and he’s going either way. She says she’ll go stay with actor friends of theirs in New York, and start recruiting talent for their next season–keep her mind occupied, and Grofield will know she’s safe. In the meantime, he’s got to go ‘drum somebody out of the corps’ as he puts it. Always the actor, most of all when he means every word he’s saying.
He heads over to Pennsylvania in his own car (because this isn’t a job–it’s personal) to pick up some guns from a guy named Recklow, who runs a riding stable, and we’re told used to be an actor in cowboy movies before the blacklist got him (perhaps just a bit of a nod to Bucklin Moon there). Turns out Grofield is an expert rider (of course he is). Recklow comes to meet him up in the woods, with the goods. Grofield buys a Smith & Wesson Terrier–Parker’s go-to weapon–and a Colt Trooper 357, with a long barrel–the latter he clips underneath the dashboard of his Chevy Nova.
(It’s a used Nova–we’re not told what year, so no image. Guns don’t tend to change much.)
He stops at Leach’s house in Oklahoma, and finds Mrs. Leach with her throat cut–she was the only other person Grofield knows about who had contact info for Myers. Myers making sure Grofield can’t track him. Grofield tosses the house, and finds Leach’s getaway cash, a thousand bucks. He takes it and torches the house–with Mrs. Leach inside it. Can’t have the cops investigating a murder that might lead to him. Well, maybe she wanted to be cremated anyway.
Still moving, over the border in Texas, he stops and calls Handy McKay at his diner in Maine–they’ve met a few times, with Parker (so maybe Parker did get to the diner at some point). Handy’s still out of the game, but he agrees to ask around about Myers and Brock–he finds a guy, some minor-leaguer, who knows Brock, and was asked to come in on the brewery job, and figured it smelled bad–Grofield can’t believe Myers is still trying to pull off that turkey. But now he knows where he’s headed–well, in the world of Richard Stark, it does seem all roads eventually lead to–
Monequois, New York: It rains. A lot. I’ve vacationed in the Adirondacks, and trust me when I say that’s very true to life. Grofield locates Myers and his motley crew of semi-pros, and quickly figures out that Myers intends to doublecross them all and take the entire payroll for himself. He makes this clear to one of them, named Morton, who he grabs from the hideout under cover of night, forcing him to fill in the fine details of Myers’ plan. Grofield intends to heist this heist, assuming it goes off as planned, but Myers dies either way.
(We all know he’s not getting any 120g’s, because he could do like 10-12 years of rep with that–if Westlake had intended this to be the last Grofield, even the last one for a while, then he’d have gotten the big score.)
Morton is a likable enough idiot, and Grofield doesn’t kill him, just leaves him tied to a tree, while he goes down to the real hideout, to settle with Myers and Brock. Only by the time they get back (with the body of a dead accomplice in the car, who they killed), they seem to have had a falling out, and they quickly get into a fight–Grofield just watches them try to kill each other from a handy hayloft for a while, before Myers, fleeing the more dangerous Brock, sees him up there, and then falls to the ground below, where Brock dispatches him. So really, Grofield just gets an assist, but he’ll take it.
Brock doesn’t know if Myers was telling the truth about Grofield being in the hayloft, but he figures he’ll take no chances, and makes a run for it–Grofield cuts him down with the Terrier, and interrogates him. The heist, red fire engine and all, was a goddam comic opera. There was no payroll, just twenty-seven hundred in petty cash. The brewery went back to checks. Myers never thought to make sure. Lots of people dead, the brewery in flames, the whole countryside up in arms–for nothing. Amateurs always think they know it all. That’s what happened in Iraq, you know. Speaking of heists gone wrong. Oh never mind.
Grofield searches Myers, and finds the twenty-seven hundred, plus a few thousand of Grofield’s Food King money–he spent all the rest on a scheme out of the comic books. Combined with the money he found at the Leach house, he’s got just enough to open this season. Then somebody knocks him out from behind.
It was Morton–he got free, and made his play. Grofield wakes up, and Morton’s getting into Grofield’s car. Grofield then plays on his sympathies–he’s groggy, the law is closing in, Morton has his gun, and after all, if not for Grofield, Morton would be dead or in cuffs by now. Morton, a much less vindictive amateur than Myers, feeling magnanimous in victory, says sure, come along. They head for Canada in the Nova, and of course what Morton doesn’t know is that there’s a Colt Trooper clipped to the underside of the dashboard. Never bet against the professional in a Stark book.
But Grofield figures that can wait. Morton won’t be hard to handle. He goes to sleep, perhaps dreaming of summer, playing alongside his one true leading lady, on their shabby little stage. Shabby it may be, but it’s theirs, and theirs alone.
Would you believe I did that long intro, then summarized the whole book, with several substantial quotes along the way, and I’m not quite 5,000 words in? That’s Stark for you.
So, having tinkered with this character over the course of seven years, and six novels (counting the two Parkers), Westlake seems to have finally ironed out the kinks, gotten out of the beta-testing phase–he’s figured out how to make Grofield a Stark protagonist while still letting him be Grofield. He’s planted him firmly in that same edgy criminal community Parker lives and kills in, established a base of operations, and fleshed out Mary as a character (and in the words of Spencer Tracy, what’s there is cherce). The fact is, Grofield never needed to be a swashbuckling adventurer, a reluctant detective, a secret agent. That was interesting enough in its way, but this is far more so.
And having finally solved the problem of Grofield, it just seems like he lost interest in him–Westlake was like that, sometimes. Grofield made a quick cameo in Slayground, speaking the same lines he had in the opening chapter of The Blackbird. Then he made his final curtain call in Butcher’s Moon. He was never mentioned in any of the eight much later novels featuring Parker.
Westlake never decided he was dead, but we’re certainly free to think that he is. Or that Mary, after the events of Butcher’s Moon, finally decided to lay down the law and make him quit the heisting life. Or maybe he changed his name to Greenwood, and took some TV jobs. No, not that last one–not in Stark’s jurisdiction–he’d have to go somewhere else. Somewhere a bit less–exacting.
Anyway, even if we were told he was dead, there are several Stark heisters who were supposed to have kicked it, who showed up alive and well later on. You can think anything you want about a character who leaves the stage and never returns. Maybe Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren’t really dead. Those ambassadors could have been misinformed, or lying. Who really knows? Did you know W.S. Gilbert (sans Arthur Sullivan) wrote a play in which Rosencrantz had Guildenstern get rid of Hamlet, so he could marry Ophelia? I bet Westlake did.
I know something else–Westlake didn’t think much of the next book on our list–called it a doorstop–and I tend to agree. For the first time since starting this blog, I’m not looking forward to rereading a book of his. And yet, having read it, I know there are things of interest inside of it. Anyway, I’ll be chipping away at it next week, in my spare time–at the office. Of course. Enjoy your weekend, Nephews. And Nieces.
PS: Since this is the last Grofield review (so sad), let’s have one last cover gallery–the first edition (from World Publishing, Grofield apparently having worn out his welcome at MacMillan) that you see above left, was almost embarrassingly on the nose–the Hard Case crime paperback cover art above right is a thing of beauty (though when I first saw it, I feared for Mary). European publishers did their usual not terribly relevant shtik (somehow there’s always some lemon yellow in there somewhere, though I supposed that’s mostly a felicitous coincidence).
As usual, I like the Serie Noire version best. With Stark, minimalism is almost always the best policy. Like I’m in any position to throw stones.