Francis Xavier Meehan is a thief - normally, a pretty good one. But some unforeseen problems with his last job have landed him in a federal prison (that truck was supposed to be full of computer chips, not U.S. mail), awaiting trial, conviction, and permanent imprisonment. A member of the President's re-election committee, who offers him a deal. Meehan can get out of jail free, and his crimes will disappear - provided he steals some hard evidence, currently in the hands of a singularly unpleasant opponent, that could lose the election for the President. Meehan, with the help of Elaine Goldfarb (the only lawyer he *knows* isn't working for the re-election committee) and a team of professional cons, has to carry out the theft, prevent double-crosses, mend his life, and get to juvenile court - all in less than a week. That hardly leaves him any time to cope with the terrorists or the political machinations, but in the end, Meehan will successfully put a lid on the whole thing.
This report prepared by Ivy
Donald E. Westlake
Mysterious, Apr 2002, 23.95, 247 pp.
As he sits in the holding area of the Manhattan Correctional Center, Francis Xavier Meehan wonders why the gods loathe him. He knows not to mess with the Feds, but how was he to realize the truck contained US mail when it failed to have any logo. Feeling a bit of the blues due to his bad luck, Francis expects the worst when even bail is denied.
Instead a presidential reelection committee member arrives to offer Francis a deal. The charges will be dropped if Meehan steals a video that makes the president look so bad his sure shot reelection would flush down the toilet. Francis puts together a team of pros (no Watergate amateurs on his squad) and travels to the upstate New York estate of the owner of the sacred video. However, Beltway insiders who could not locate Albany, New York from Albany, Georgia and a bunch of Middle East espionage agents obstruct Francis and his team. Then there is the other party's personal felon team to compete with for the grand prize.
Donald E. Westlake provides his usual wild satirical look at modern society foibles in his latest crime caper, PUT A LID ON IT. The story line is amusing and exciting as Francis slowly unravels the truth behind the deal with the devil that he struck. Fans of amusing mysteries will relish Mr. Westlake's axing of the American presidential election system starting with the truism that the only lesson learned by the DC crowd from Watergate is to use professional thieves when breaking and entering to steal something.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner