Donald E. Westlake
Forge, Jan 2004, 14.95
Copy editor Fred Fitch is so famous as the king of marks, con artists come from everywhere to take him for a buck or three. Grifters visiting New York include Fred as one of their prime tourist stops for no vacation is complete without taking Fred for a ride. Fred is not insane, but he believes in the basic goodness of humanity so that he trusts people until that person rips him off.
Fred is still small potatoes though an important merit badge award for con artists until he inherits over $300,000 from Uncle Matt. Though he never heard of an Uncle Matt, Fred is now a desirable mark beyond honorarium status. Everyone wants a piece of Fred or at least his loot. However, someone wants more than just Fred's inheritance, that individual may have killed Uncle Matt and wants Fred dead too.
Though some of the humor seems a bit dated and even naive, readers can see why this reprint won an Edgar for Best Novel in 1967. The story line combines humor with suspense as Fred is a unique character whose conned from the beginning of the story line in a downtown barbershop to the end of the fun tale. Though the ultimate target, Fred makes GOD SAVE THE MARK works because he is likable and readers will appreciate his trusting nature even though his naiveté is mindful of Einstein's definition of insanity. A new audience will enjoy Donald E. Westlake's 1960s New York joy ride.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner