Heads up, Westlake fans. One of his early comic novels, 1967 Edgar winner God Save the Mark, is being reissued. Almost 40 years later, it's still a gem.

Fred Fitch knows he's an easy target for crooks running scams. Determined to no longer be taken by every con man and woman in town, he's skeptical when told he's inherited $300,000 from his Uncle Matt—he didn't even know he had an Uncle Matt. Only after his friend, cop Jack Reilly, verifies the authenticity of the inheritance does Fred believe it's true. And that's when his little problems turn into big ones. Crooks are no longer satisfied with getting a few bucks out of him—now they're seriously threatening his life. Fred must figure out who wants him dead and why if he's to save himself—but that's hard when the bullets start flying as he steps outside.

Like many of Westlake's comic characters, Fred is endearing for his good intentions and bad luck. His carefully made plans don't work out, creating outlandish predicaments for Fred and great fun for readers. The novel is another winner from a master of comic writing. (Jan, 240 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jo Peters