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God Save the Mark: A Novel of Crime and Confusion
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God Save the Mark: A Novel of Crime and Confusion

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  688 ratings  ·  75 reviews
* mark n. An easy victim; a ready subject for the practices of a confidence man, thief, beggar, etc.; a sucker.-Dictionary of American Slang, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960

That's the long definition of a mark. But there's a shorter one. It goes:

* mark n. Fred Fitch

What, you ask, is a Fred Fitch? Well, for one thing, Fred Fitch is the man with the most extensive collection of
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Forge Books (first published 1967)
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The Black Echo by Michael ConnellyThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréEye of the Needle by Ken FollettThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythIn the Woods by Tana French
Edgar Award Winners
50th out of 83 books — 118 voters
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom StoppardOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezRosemary's Baby by Ira LevinNicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. MassieThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Best Books of 1967
44th out of 97 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

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While technically a murder mystery, much of this book is a crazy romp through New York c.1960, with unusual characters, witty banter and hilarious situations. It's only at the end -- the very end -- when this all slows down and the plot is tied together.

The "Mark" in the title refers to the main chracter (Fred Fitch) who is the ultimate "sucker" when it comes to falling for cons. He reacts by withdrawing from society, but this is to no avail when he inherits money from a perviously unknown -- a
I was disappointed in this book. I have enjoyed a lot of Westlake's other offerings, so I expected an enjoyable romp. But, the naivete of the Fred was impossible to accept. Every con could be seen a mile ahead, but throughout the book he talked about how he figured it right afterwards. You would think after being scammed a few times he would finally remember.

Anyway. I did like the description of the characters, and the story itself. The language effectively stuck me in the 1960s, as did a lot o
American Gods for the Grifter set!

Fred Fitch is just a normal guy who is constantly swindled by nearly every grifter, con man, con woman and thief in New York City. The main character is Fred who gets sucked up in a series of situations after having received $300K following his Uncle's death.

Not quite a comedy but very funny, not quite a drama but with dramatic moements and not quite a thriller this book is an interesting meditation on a single person and his growing awareness of those people ar
Josh Hamacher
Fred Fitch is a born mark, a man of incredible gullibility and a favorite target of con men. Being a smart man and relatively self-aware, he knows this (but never realizes he's being conned until it's too late). When he inherits a large sum of money from a relative he's never met, it seems like everyone wants to help relieve him of his newfound burden.

This is a fast, fun read that's laugh-out-loud funny in places. It's also a good mystery story by a Grand Master of the field and it won the Edgar
Chris Bubb
I like Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels--"Good Behavior" is one of my favorite books ever. I thought this would be a fun entry in the same vein, and it was, mostly. I enjoyed a lot of it, but a couple of things bugged me.

One was the character of Fred Fitch himself. I found it really hard to believe that an obviously smart, self-aware guy would keep falling for the same scams over and over again. Part of this disbelief stemmed from Westlake's decision to have Fitch narrate the novel. I thi

God Save the Mark

by Donald E. Westlake

Forge, 268 pages, Paperback, 2004; reissue of a book
originally published in 1967, with a new introduction by Otto

One in Forge's "Otto Penzler Presents . . ." series of
reissues, complete with a new introduction by Penzler himself,
this publication sees the welcome reappearance of Donald
Westlake's 1967 comic delight God Save the Mark. It's not
among the very best of Westlake's deliriously inventive capers,
but it's close to that leading group and certainl
Mar 28, 2008 Nikki rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a humorous mystery
I read this as part of an ongoing project to read all the Edgar winners for Best Novel. It was the 1968 winner, published in 1967.

Although another character refers to him as a shlemiel, I'd say Fred Fitch, the protagonist and narrator of GOD SAVE THE MARK, is a shlimazel. The way I heard it, the shlemiel spills the soup in the shlimazel's lap. Fred Fitch's way of being a shlimazel is that he's a sap, a sucker, a mark. He has fallen for every con or scam that's been tried on him all his life. He
This is a delightful comedy crime-caper from one of the masters of humourous crime. Fred Fitch is a mark, someone who believes he has been at the receiving end of every one of the seventeen thousand con men operating in New York at any time. But then comes the turnaround. Fred is suddenly left a huge legacy by an uncle he didn’t even know existed and suddenly Fred is the most popular man around, as he is chased, hounded, shot at and led on a merry run around New York in this wild caper that will ...more
This was the second or third book that I loaded on my kindle. I am not sure why it took me so long to actually read it. I have always enjoyed Donald Westlake, so it should have been top of the pile

I am glad that I read this book, but I am not sure who I would recommend it to. Bill will read it eventually.

Fred Fitch is the mark. His picture should be next to the definition for mark in the dictionary. He has fallen for every con ever contemplated. Fortunately for Fred, this book was written before
This is an early Donald Westlake book. It was originally published in 1967. I picked it up, when a coworker told me I could get it free for the Kindle!

This was a fun and entertaining book. It is written in a humorous pulp style with a couple of broads, dames, a few conmen and a couple of killings.

Potential Spoiler Alert!

The story centers around Fred Fitch an easy target and magnet for con men. Fred gets taken easily and often early in the book. It's funny and at times painful to be aware that F
Tim Hicks
This early Westlake (c. 1967) would be a dandy answer if anyone asks you, "Why do you like Westlake so much?"

This is an Edgar-award winning story, if lightweight. Our hero, and I use the word advisedly, has a grand and amusing adventure. But many writers can tell you a good story. Some can include (what turns out to be) a complex plot. Only a very few can make you enjoy the ride as much as Westlake does.

He uses words brilliantly. You smile, you laugh. You raise an eyebrow and leave it up for ha
Lynn Sykes
I picked this book up because Clare O'Donohue said it was one of her inspirations as a writer. It was great! Loved all the characters. They were very quirky and entertaining. I would highly recommend it. I am sure I will pick up more of Mr. Westlake's book to read in the future.
I loved this book. I think part of it is that it was written in the 1960's so it has a bit of an old-fashioned feel, and partly because I didn't have a bunch of people telling me how excellent it was and elevating my expectations.

This book is fun, sometimes funny, and interesting. It's about a guy who is gullible and has been the sucker for every con known to man. He inherits a bunch of money from an uncle he never knew he had, and then the grifters come out of the woodwork. He goes from trusti
Bruce MacBain
Westlake at his light-hearted best (so much better than those dreary Parker novels he wrote!).
A very charming twisty story about a natural born mark who suddenly inherits a boatload of money.
Donna Foston
Fast-paced, enjoyable read. It's a murder mystery, but it's surprisingly witty and funny.
Brooks Jones
I was lucky to have stumbled upon this book when it was offered free on the Kindle. This is a laugh-out-loud crime caper, centered on a gullible protagonist (Fred Fitch) who unexpectedly comes into a large sum of money when an uncle he never knew leaves him his fortune after being murdered. In spite of himself, Fitch comes out on top at the end, but there are amusing and suspensful twists and turns along the way. Lucky for me Westlake was a prolific writer. It should take me quite a while to mow ...more
Laura Sapp
That was a fun book, I'd love to see it made into a movie.
well! all this time i had been thinking that donald westlake is the one who wrote get shorty but i have just found out it was elmore leonard instead. this explains much.

a breezy read that made me feel weird misplaced nostalgia for a 1960s new york i never knew and which probably never existed. you know, a new york where phrases like "brassy blonde" can get thrown around with cheerful abandon. not really my thing, but this book has at least given me an excuse to make a tag called "comic caper," s
Kay Palkhivala
Ridiculously funny. A classic.
do not remember
This was really fun. When it was predictable, it was predictable in the good way; where it was unpredictable, it was in the language, descriptions, and certain parts of the action. I love Westlake. Some of his work is better than other -- this falls somewhere short of his strongest work, but is not his weakest either. Westlake wrote 'The Hot Rock' which was made into a movie with Robert Redford and like everyone else who was acting in the 70's. Available on Netflix. I recommend that as a low-ris ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Heather added it
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Jelayne Underwood
Donald Westlake has been a favorite of mine since high school. I can read his books over and over again.
I've plowed through the Dortmunder and Parker series, but luckily I still have more Westlake pages to turn. The high points in this book are the details along the journey: the "simple" task of cashing a check at a bank, the back exit scene (with sound effects), the little cons that provide insight into the main character, the patter between the two detectives, and the phrases that seem to wink at the reader ("rotund and orotund"). These elevate the story above the genre expectations.
Strikingly silly after the two other Westlakes I'd read (361 and Memory) but enjoyable. A guy who's easily conned inherits money from an uncle he never met, resulting in comedic, mildly dark complications. (I'm sure this is an idiosyncratic connection, but it reminded me of Disney's No Deposit, No Return in tone.) It wasn't what I was in the mood for at the time, but thinking back on it makes me smile.

Also I hate the cover of this edition.
Marc  A.
Sorry for the tardy review. I only gave this four stars because it's not the best in relation to other work by Westlake. That said, the pre-Dortmunder crime/comedy novel was has all the plot, suspense, laughs and great odd-ball characters that I expect from this comic crime genius.

This one was a classic crime farce to put one in mind of films like Edward G. Robinson's, "Larceny Inc." and Woody Allen's "Small Time Crooks" with Tracy Ullman.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It always kept me guesing what would happen next and the ending wasn't what i expected. The best part about this story is how funny it is. You can't help but love the main character and all his flaws. I didn't feel like any of this book was only there as "filler" all of it was important to the plot and entertaining. I can't wait look up Donald Westlake and see what else he has written.
Neill Goltz
Fun Westlake, but dated (published 1967) with land lines phones (integral to story). Different perspective for us now in 2013 now via TV's "Person of Interest" with respect to ever-encroaching camera surveillance.

Westlake's usual NYC-foil, John Dortmunder, is a more memorable character, and I recommend "Drowned Hopes" over this one for your own debut with this author, if you are not yet a novitiate.
This was a fun book. It's a mystery and sort of a comedy of errors. It reminded me a bit of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey books, wacky and off-the-wall. Given that this book was first published in the 1960's though, it's not gory in any way and there's no cussing. You definitely feel the atmosphere of New York in the 60's. And whatever happened to the Bunco squad anyway??
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Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950's, churning out novels for pulp houses—often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms such as Richard Stark—but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ru ...more
More about Donald E. Westlake...
The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1) Bank Shot (Dortmunder, #2) The Ax What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Dortmunder, #9) What's So Funny? (Dortmunder, #14)

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