Castle in the Air

by Donald Westlake

I read Hiassen because of Pest Control and was disappointed that it was not as good. I should have been reading Westlake.

"Castle in the Air" is about the ruler of a small country who plans to leave permanently, but wants to take all his money with him. As the people are on the edge of rebelling, he must be very carefull about this. It just so happens that in Paris, there is a new exhibit on architecture, so he decides to hide the money and jewels in some hollowed bricks of a castle that is being dismantled in his home country to be reassembled in Paris, where the ruler is waiting.

One of the rebels catches wind of this and decides to hire someone to intercept the castle. I'm going by memory on this and don't have names, but she contacts a master thief to oversee and plan the project, for ten percent. This thief contacts three friends, each an international thief of great prestige. Each of these three contacts two or three of THEIR friends to help them out, forming three teams. Stealing an entire castle isn't easy. It's even more complex when each team speaks a different language and is secretly scheming to double-cross the other teams and even each other! After I made a list of the fifteen or so characters, I had a great time with this book. The pace is exhilirating and I read the 180 or so pages quickly. There are a number of episodes of well-crafted confusion, making me giggle like a school girl a number of times, never knowing who was going to end up with the money. Definitely a must-read!


by Donald Westlake

Westlake puts Stephen King to shame. He's written over 70 novels! From what I hear, they are very consistent. If you like one, you'll probably like the rest. Although not as good as "Castle in the Air", "Smoke" is quite good.

'Tis about a burgler who is in the process of stealing from a research lab when he is caught by the two researchers, two gay men who are funded by a rich tobacco corporation. They are working on a formula that makes skin translucent and, in catching this man, test it on him. The man excapes, taking what he thinks is an antidote but is instead a second version of the formula. He ends up quite invisible. This comes as quite a shock to his girlfriend, and to himself when he watches himself eat for the first (and last) time. But being invisible is quite a boon to thieving and he makes quite a killing before it become apparant that his girlfriend is not adjusting to his invisibility and they take a summer vacation in upstate New York.

While this is going on, the tobacco people are looking for him as he can be of great help in industrial espionage, as is a crooked cop who wants him to knock off a few of his enemies. There are a number of humorous situations that come about, as well as a fat guy and some dobermans. I really should write these reviews soon after I read the durn book! Although not as convoluted as "Castle" and over twice as long, t'was still a good book.