The Comedy Is Finished

The Comedy is Finished – Donald E. Westlake

Aging comedian Koo Davis is taken captive by a collective known as People’s Revolutionary Army.  Their demands?  Have the US Government release ten inmates and provide them with safe passage to Algeria.  The alternative?  Koo dies.

I have a pile of Hard Case Crime novels sitting on my bookcase that I’ve yet to work my way through.  With the year winding down and the weather getting chillier, I thought what better time to hunker down inside with a few crime classics than November (or Noir-vember?).

When my partner saw me reading this one, she said, “another Westlake?  You must be a big fan of his.”  And I thought, “Am I?”  I have read quite of bit of his work over the years but I can’t remember going out of my way to get any of his books.  Hard Case Crime has published a lot of his lost work, so I just happen to end up with a few Westlake books in my hands a few times a year.

The Comedy Is Finished was an alright read.  It didn’t blow me away but given that Westlake had shelved it himself and did not get around to publishing it, maybe that makes sense.  There are a few gruesome, blood-splattered pages and a fair amount of smut, so it fits right in with Hard Case’s “strict” criteria.

I will say that Westlake kept me guessing up to the end as to just how the criminals would either get away with it or if Koo Davis would escape with his life.  There were a lot of twists and turns that helped keep me up late for a few nights (just one more chapter, etc).  However, this one pretty much left my mind as quickly as it entered.  

Not much stuck and maybe that’s because, aside from Koo Davis, many of these characters felt flat.  I didn’t get the sense the kidnappers had ever really gotten along at any point given that there had been infighting from the beginning of the novel, and Koo Davis, the guy that the government has been trying to rescue, came across as a real prick.

Even an “OK” experience with a Hard Case Crime novel is better than most non-series whodunnits.  3 stars.

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