Take two professional writers -- a bestselling superstar with writer's block, and a longtime author with dying sales (he's published under two pseudonyms for fresh starts that nevertheless faded) -- and you have the makings of a plan. The bestseller suggests that he submit the veteran's latest manuscript as his own to satisfy his agent and publisher (not to mention the clamoring fans), and the two authors split the inevitably huge advance fifty-fifty. The only catch is that the superstar would like his colleague to do away with his hateful wife. I enjoyed many of Westlake's earlier caper and Dortmunder novels, but I found this one disappointing. It has a great premise, gives a nifty peek into the publishing industry and the life of writers, and the murder scene is convincingly clumsy and sordid, but there's very little humor in this book, and it seems to lose narrative drive at the halfway point -- limping to its conclusion.
This report prepared by David Loftus