by Donald Westlake
Perhaps one of the first Westlake books (1967), this is undoubtably some o' the best stuff I've read in a long while.
The story is centered around Fred Fitch, an extemely gullible man who is uncapable of disbelieving anyone, even though he is ripped off two or three times each day by the con artists of New York City. About fifteen minutes or so after buying a "sure-fire" lottery winning system or "lending" money to a stranger who just needs to run to the bank, it hits him that he has once again been taken. So imagine his delight and subsequent horror when he inherits over $300,000 from a con-man uncle he has never met! Where once there was a steady trickle, now there is a roaring onslaught of con-men and women out to get rich on his inheritance. Even though he knows he should distrust them, he's just too nice to say "no." Viewed from his eyes, the reader is also unsure of which characters he can trust. Even the police are suspect! And then a women he knows is kidnapped. And then someone is out to kill him. Not until the very end of the book does the dust settle and the reader finally finds out who is conning who. I stayed up an hour and a half past my regular sleepy-bye time to finish this book and now I want to go back and read it again to find all the little pieces I missed before!
A full FOUR SLABS O' QUIVERING FAT!