Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cutie (Hard Case Crime #53)” as Want to Read:
The Cutie (Hard Case Crime #53)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Cutie (Hard Case Crime #53)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Originally published in 1960 as The Mercenaries.


Mavis St. Paul had been a rich man’s mistress. Now she was a corpse. And every cop in New York City was hunting for the two-bit punk accused of putting a knife in her.

But the punk was innocent. He’d been set up to take the fall by some cutie who was too clever by half. My job? Find that c
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 11th 2009 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1960)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cutie, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cutie

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Thief by Megan Whalen TurnerThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
358th out of 437 books — 867 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 953)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I find the cover of this book a bit misleading. Blame it on the title though.

One, (me and um, Karen, who made a joke at my expense about the type of book I was reading) might think that the title refers to an attractive woman, like the one who is being signified by the cover artwork. Like, hey this is a book about an attractive woman who causes some kind of problem, sort of like a typical James M. Cain novel. Actually the title refers to someone who is doing something 'clever' but in a way that
Dan Schwent
Billy-Billy Cantell wakes up from an H bender in a strange apartment next to a blonde that's been stabbed to death with the police outside. He runs to the nearest person that can help him, Clay, a man whose part of the same criminal organization. Clay goes looking for the cutie that set Cantell up. Unfortunately, the same cutie is trying to set Clay up. All the while, Clay struggles with trying to make a life with the woman he's living with. Can she handle being married to someone in the busines ...more
3.5 stars, but I rounded up. This is one of the best HCC books that I've read. The flawed hero is very well done as are his circumstances & the mystery. The writing is fast paced with just enough detail to really draw me in, but not so much as to slow the story down. The characters are well drawn & very believable. The ending was excellent. I'll be looking for other books by Westlake to read.
William Thomas
Let's get a few things straight. Some things are not noir. Some things are better classified simply as pulp. Or crime.
Or thriller. If we were being true to form, we would be using the term 'hardboiled' when referring to the literature
that closely resembles film noir. Because Noir is a sub-genre of film that refers to a very specific style of post-WWII
film. Somehow, it has become a way to refer to any book that even remotely resembles the detective story prototype.
This just isn't right. I want t
Not bad.

Writing was excellent

characters well drawn,

but for a noir story the whole

seemed fifty pages too long.

Too much pontificating in the middle.

Brought the pace to a crawl.

Had me checking the ceiling for spiders.

But for an early effort, the craftsmanship was well done.
This mob whodunit would probably not have warranted a reprint by Hard Case Crime were it not Donald E. Westlake’s debut (or, more accurately, his debut under his own name). Narrated by George Clayton—known to his associates simply as Clay—The Mercenaries (reprinted by HCC as The Cutie, complete with cover art that has nothing whatsoever to do with the book) finds Westlake inching his way toward the world of Richard Stark and Parker with Clay’s recurring commentary about the necessity of good cri ...more
The Cutie is early Westlake, and the name has been inexplicably changed from The Mercenaries, perhaps as a fig-leaf justification (not that any was needed) for the lovely cover, which unashamedly bears no resemblance to anything in the book, where a red-headed in a short dress notably fails to turn up and start loading a gun while standing athwart an open briefcase stuffed with cash. Never apologise, never explain.

Clay is a highly-placed enforcer for the local crime organisation in New York. One
Seizure Romero
Originally published as The Mercenaries. Probably one of the more unfortunate choices when it comes to renaming a book that really didn't need it in the first place. Also probably only rates two stars because it really was just ok, but it was a good mindless read right when I needed one, so hey. Bonus star.

Actually, the bonus star should probably go to the King County Library System for displaying it conspicuously on their "Paperback Picks" shelves that you have to walk past as you enter or lea
I really liked this one. May be a contender for my favorite HCC title so far. And it also may have my vote for favorite cover.

Mysteries where the criminals are acting as the detectives always appeal to me for some reason so I got a kick out of Clay's efforts to track down 'the cutie' who killed Mavis and framed Billy-Billy.

Kind of like Killing Castro with Block, you can tell that this is a superior writer doing some early work and discovering what works for him. Westlake kept this a hardboiled
This 50-something year old novel worked well as a road trip audiobook. I haven't read a great number of caper novels, but I enjoyed this blast from the past - especially the ending.
More PI than hard hitting hit man – Clay, self proclaimed accident specialist and right hand man to a mob boss is tasked with tracking down a promising starlet’s murderer to take the heat of the organisation acquaintance and prime suspect Billy-Billy. The language is a testament to the era (written in 1960) with the quarry commonly referred to as the cutie, while Clay’s investigative prowess relies on more conventional approaches without the convenience of today’s mod cons. A familiar whodunit l ...more
My darling wife picked this up for me while she was traveling. She knows me and knows that Westlake is one of my favorite authors. This is a well-done reissue by Hard Case Crime…though the cover image really has nothing to do with the actual story. The titular cutie isn't a cute woman, but someone who has pulled a fast one, setting up the wrong people and acting a little too cute…so they need to find the cutie.

Like most Westlake stories, he found a way to put his unique stamp on what is essentia
I usually don't want or expect much out of crime novels I find at thrift stores, but since this was a Hard Case Crime Reprint by Donald E. Westlake, I did, admittedly, expect The Cutie to be pretty good. I wasn't disappointed by it. The mystery in this novel is pretty good, but not as well done or important to the work as a whole as the way that the book examines how Clay, the protagonist, is psychologically affected by the work he does for gangsters. Still, it was exciting, needlessly hard-boil ...more
Early Westlake but fun as always. I ate up all his descriptions of New York circa 1960. A favorite passage:

I went on in. The living room as long and narrow, painted gray, and was so completely Greenwich Village in style that it looked more like a stage setting than an actual living room. It was one trite, standard bit after another. The piece of gray driftwood on the black, vaguely Japanese coffee table. The modern painting, looking like a broken stained-glass window, centered on one of the lon
Billy-Billy comes to Clay's place in the middle of the night. He says he woke up and was next to a dead woman. He doesn't know how he got there. He wants Clay to help him. But Clay is thinking someone set him and did a good job at it. Clay calls Ed and is told to keep Billy-Billy safe. Then the cops show up at Clay's place. He hides Billy and they search but Billy has taken off and Clay needs to find him. Ed wants Clay to figure out who killed the woman, Mavis St. Paul, and why they set Billy up ...more
Fun but forgettable book recommended by my old MFA supervisor, mostly because the subject matter is similar to my own work-in-progress (mob enforcer does a bit of sleuthing). The novel was beautifully structured, tightly-written, clever and fast-paced. I found Clay sympathetic, but too naive and nice to be believable, and I was baffled that he never killed anyone until right near the end. The setting of New York and characters were also forgettable, and rarely rose above cliches or anti-cliches ...more
This is classic tough-guy pulp fiction. It was first published in 1960 and titled "The Mercenaries." The fast talking protagonist reminds me of some Lawrence Block's first-person narrators, although he is not quite as glib.

The funniest aspect of the book is the cover drawing. It bares no relation to anything in the book. Some marketing guys had fun with this one, I imagine.

This is very, very light reading. I am always looking for new authors, but there wasn't enough in this novel to make me tr
Westlake, Donald E. THE CUTIE. (Orig. 1960; Reprint 2009). ****. Donald Westlake’s passing recently has left a big hole in the world of crime fiction. He was a master of dialog and a clever deviser of plots involving human foibles and weaknesses. This book from Hard Case Crime is a reprint of Westlake’s 1960 novel, originally titled, “The Mercenaries.” The hero of the novel is a man named Clay, who worked for the Syndicate in NYC. He was the right-hand man of the head of the operation. When some ...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is my first Westlake novel, and based on this, I will be seeking out more in the future (or those by his numerous other pen names, including Richard Stark).

The title is a double entendre. Yes there are a couple of nice looking girls here, typical of hard-boiled crime stories. But really it's slang for someone who is doing something 'clever' but in a way that some might find to be annoying. As in, "Don't get cute with me!" Here the plot involves a set up of a mob-tied junkie to take a murder
John Hood
Bound Mar. 5, 2009 - Miami SunPost

The Cutie

Hard Case Crime Brings Back a Classic

By John Hood

The world already knows that Donald E. Westlake left behind at least one unpublished manuscript before he died back on New Year’s Eve, and if his life’s output is any indication, we’ve got at least a couple more of his books still to look forward to. Till Grand Central delivers his Get Real this summer, though, folks needing a fix would do wise to get with Hard Case Crime’s reprinting of the Grand Master’
Mavis St. Paul has been murdered, and drug user Billy-Billy Cantell is the prime suspect, having been found at the scene with the weapon. Billy-Billy enlists the help of Clay, who works for gangster Ed Ganolese, to help him. The police end up getting involved, and Clay investigates to find out who the “cutie”, or the killer is.

"The Cutie" was orignally published as “The Mercenaries”. I don't know why I ordered this from the library as it is not something I would normally pick. I listened to thi
This is a first novel that doesn't read like a first novel. Everything you know and love about Donald Westlake is here, highly polished, just the right amount of style, a certain period charm, and . . . honestly, I dare you to try to just read the first chapter, and not the rest. Go on.

I'm willing to bet you're not going to stop, you're not going to want to stop, and you will just keep turning those pages, as I did, until you discover who "the cutie" is. And, for the record, "the cutie" is not a
Chrissie (is stuck in the 19th century)

Okay, to make it clear, when I think the book is a 3.5 but don't want to inflate the rating because I care for the book that much and for reasons entirely my own I'd still not give it a four, I click 4-stars but indicate it to be just a 3.5. But if I give a 3 rating to a 3.5, it means I don't care if the overall rating of the book goes down. This is a rather weird way of getting my personal vindication.

First Noir book (is Godfather considered a Noir fiction?) I read and enjoyed. Some minor is
This manuscript was discovered, undated, after science-fiction superstar Zelazny's death. The protagonist, art dealer Ovid Wiley, resembles Zelazny's princes of Amber--he makes his own rules and doesn't care too much about what other people think. When a dead body is found in his New York gallery, Ovid doesn't want to admit to the police that the victim was once his accomplice in art theft. Bailed out by the CIA in return for a little favor, he's sent to Italy, where he meets Maria, the victim's ...more
Selaine Henriksen
You can see Parker evolving as you read this. Except here Westlake still believes his main character has to be a nice guy. The tension comes from the character liking his job and thinking he has it good and us, the reader, knowing that you can never relax with that kind of job.
I felt there was a missed opportunity at plot shenanigans, when he tells his woman how he got into the job. (Spoiler) I thought that would return and that she might be the dead girl's sister out for revenge, but no, she w
This book held my interest and I wanted to correctly guess the killer, but I didn't. I was close, but didn't quite get the right person. I found the edgy noir to be enjoyable.
Greg of A2
Westlake has a strong voice in this book. The main character is intelligent and knows he's caught between what he is and what he could be with a woman named Ella. While he's a local mobster's right-hand man, he's put in a position to do some sleuthing and he does it pretty well. There's some interesting philosophical ramblings by the lead as he justifies what he does while comparing how he feels about his job and someone who is just a hired killer. The story has nice layers to it and exposes sha ...more
Fun fun 1st person noir crime by the master Westlake. Highly recommend.
Apr 14, 2013 James rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
A Hard Case crime novel by the late great Donald Westlake. The cover is completely misleading. In this case, "the cutie" is the person who set up a hapless heroin addict for a murder. Clay is assigned by his criminal organization to investigate (the heroin addict is also a part of it). Decent twists and turns, but the main thing is Westlake's strong voice and writing. Since the book's first publication in 1960 (under the title The Mercenaries), some of the references have become dated, but the s ...more
Been meaning to read Westlake for a while based on what others have said. Liked it. Will seek out others.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 31 32 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Losers Live Longer (Hard Case Crime #59)
  • The First Quarry (Quarry #8)
  • Honey in his Mouth (Hard Case Crime, #60)
  • Fifty-to-One (Hard Case Crime #50)
  • Baby Moll
  • House Dick (Hard Case Crime #54)
  • The Corpse Wore Pasties (Hard Case Crime, #62)
  • The Murderer Vine (Hard Case Crime #43)
  • Casino Moon (Hard Case Crime #55)
  • Lucky at Cards (Hard Case Crime #28)
  • Little Girl Lost (Hard Case Crime #4)
  • Fake I.D.
  • A Touch of Death (Hard Case Crime #17)
  • The Vengeful Virgin (Hard Case Crime #30)
  • Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield, #4)
  • Shooting Star/Spiderweb (Hard Case Crime #42)
  • Say It With Bullets (Hard Case Crime #18)
  • Nobody's Angel (Hard Case Crime, #65)
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)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »