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Put a Lid on It

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  367 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Meehan, a career thief staring at life without parole, is awaiting sentencing at the Manhattan Correctional Center when he is called to a meeting by someone masquerading as his lawyer. The man, it turns out, represents the presidential re-election campaign committee -- now finding itself in need of a little professional help. So they "outsource" Meehan in return for a walk ...more
ebook, 199 pages
Published December 14th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 28th 2002)
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Dec 28, 2011 Johnny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy-thriller
Francis Xavier Meehan is not Dortmunder and Put a Lid on It is not a Dortmunder novel. Think back on all the mistakes made by the Watergate burglars and then, imagine the chaos that Donald E. Westlake could create by having a campaign committee hire one of his burglars for an ill-conceived political burglary. This novel features the kind of detailed planning of the “job” and the same kinds of zany crew members that any Westlake fan has come to expect.

One of the crew members is an African-America
Rob Warner
Aug 01, 2011 Rob Warner rated it really liked it
What a fun book! Westlake invents a plausible scenario for a weird crime and runs with it, and the result is engaging and delightful. Definitely entertaining.
Nov 14, 2008 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is vintage Westlake and a bitter satire of government.
All of Westlake's characters have runs of bad luck and Franci (not Frank, thank you) Meehan is no exception.

Meehan is a non-violent career criminal who has just been incarcerated at the Manhattan Correctional Center awaiting sentencing on a federal charge (how was he to know the truck he was hijacking was carrying registered mail in addition to computer parts). He is approached by Jeffords, obviously a lawyer, who makes him a strange pr
David Diamantes
Oct 15, 2011 David Diamantes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The late Donald Westlake was a master of his craft. Crisp, realistic dialog, with a judicious use of slang make his novels some of the most readable there are. Put a Lid on it, is the story of a career criminal who is sprung from jail while awaiting trial on federal charges by the President's reelection committee. "Nixon botched the Watergate break in because he used political hacks, instead of pros." It’s a great story idea and Westlake pulls it off. I would have given the book 5 stars, but I l ...more
Mar 27, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Westlake writes an excellent heist novel and that's exactly what "Put a Lid on it" is. Meehan is visited in a federal detention center by a fellow claiming to be his lawyer. Soon, he is sprung from the detention center and asked to steal an item that incriminates the President of the United States. Soon Meehan is running into foreign agents and political tricksters. The only question is whether or not Meehan will be able to outsmart the folks who want this evidence.

This novel will remind the re
For many years, one of our family traditions was to find a Donald Westlake audiobook for our vacation. Many of his John Dortmunder novels were recorded on cassettes. My husband and I had a great time listening to Dortmunder and his "gang" bumble their way through ridiculous crime capers.

One of our friends found this novel at the library booksale. Dortmunder is nowhere to be seen, but the string of coincidences in this story remind me of him. Francis Meeham has a week to save himself from prison
Oct 14, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, action, humor
Crime novel - Francis Xavier Meehan is in federal prison for hijacking a mail truck he thought contained computer chips. A presidential reelection official offers him a pardon with a Watergate-type scheme: Meehan must steal a video that, if made public, may prevent the president's reelection. Meehan's court-appointed lawyer cuts the best deal she can for him, and we're off on the caper as Meehan assembles his heist crew, figures the logistics and cases the estate of the elderly, right-wing gun c ...more
Nov 22, 2012 Spiros rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wonders what it would have taken for Watergate to have gone according to plan
Kind of a hybrid Westlake: not quite the madcap antics of a Dortmunder novel, but lacking the hardedge of the Parker novels. Still plenty funny, especially the satirical treatment of Clendon Burnstone V. I could see this book very easily being turned into a dynamite screenplay, which is something I almost never say about Westlake's novels.
I found this signed cloth copy at Housing Works, sitting on a shelf with a bunch of other signed Westlake's which unfortunately I had already read: $10 each, g
Chi Dubinski
May 25, 2012 Chi Dubinski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Francis Xavier Meehan is a thief, currently incarcerated for robbing a mail truck. So what is he to think when a man in a suit appears in the visitors' room, claiming to be his lawyer? The man has a proposition for him; is it too good to be true? He wants Meehan to steal some evidence damning to the President's re-election campaign. Shades of Watergate!
An entertaining caper, one where the criminals have more on the ball than the politicians.
Feb 18, 2015 Queen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, mystery
What a funny genius novel. I enjoyed every moment of it, also I liked how it involved politics and just like the other Westlake novels I've read, the characters are so adorable and realistic. However the only thing I found inconvenient is Mr Burnstone's simplicity. He didn't sound like a president and did whatever they told him to do never suspecting them for a moment. But all in all it is great .
Adam Hegg
I think I have read too many Westlakes in a row. This one was a little too aligned with the rest of the books I've read lately and as such I was pulled out of the story too many times to have really enjoyed this one. Now, had I paid attention the whole time I would likely have loved this as much as the rest of his work but alas this was not the time for me. Think I will take a quick break from Westlake/Stark so that I come back refreshed.
This is a decent crime caper with a few funny parts but overall it's not all that funny compared to his other works. It's certainly an enjoyable read but unless you've read a lot of Westlake novels there are better ones you could read (personally I recommend starting with Hot Rock or Dancing Aztec). One problem with this book is that not all that much goes wrong for the characters and for the caper which leaves the book feeling a bit by-the-numbers.
Brian Santo1
A mediocre plot, and the protagonist is named Meehan instead of Dortmunder. Maybe even Westlake knew this wasn't quite up to snuff for a Dortmunder novel. That it's a lesser entry in his oeuvre notwithstanding, Westlake is always as wry as they come. Here we find more flawed characters who have learned a thing or two (or ten thousand in Meehan's case), and they're more or less willing to share what they know.
Apr 25, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donald Westlake is always fun to read. His heroes are the nicest of crooks. This book was particularly clever. The Committee to Re-Elect the President was in need of a professional burglar to steal some incriminating evidence from the opposition. Problem is, the committe has some serious leaks and our hero has to sort this problem out first.
Oct 19, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not a dortmunder.
a short one but "burglar" centric.
it introduces a different sort of thief than the protagonist who is featured in The Hot Rock, Bank Shot, and others. Meehan, the hero of Put a Lid on It, like any other Westlake lead character, is a one-name kind of guy

I like the quirky charm of westlakes burglars.
David Wrubel
Donald Westlake recently died. Much of his work is quite readable and often hysterical... crime/intrigue novels with flawed, somewhat stolid main characters, most notably the 'Dortmunder' series. This one is a bit different, and a little more enjoyable, because he adds political satire and hijinx to the mix.

Nov 25, 2013 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Francis gets sprung from jail. He's got a Federal rap, and it looks like life. But somebody, who says he's a lawyer but doesn't act the part, is ready to spring him. But why? The saavy con goes along, but, as the mystery unfolds, he isn't the patsy his saviors take him for. What great unfolding complexities and characters!

Dive in, Westlake fans!
Deborah Coates
It's been a long time since I've read any Westlake and I got this book for free on Amazon (Kindle). I don't think I realized back then (when I last read a Westlake novel) how well he writes.

His descriptions are never over-done but terrifically accurate. The dialogue is great. The plot could easily get away from a lesser writer but--so far--Westlake has it all nicely under control.
Oct 08, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comic mystery with overtones of the political scene -- dedicated to his old friend Mickey Schwerner (remember him?) whose comment on the American two-party system was, "It's the same old story. The moochers versus the misers." Very clever and entertaining!
Sue Diveley
Jan 25, 2015 Sue Diveley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a caper book, you just don't get better than Westlake. This is a quick read with lots of twists. I love the wit and clever dialogue. A few years ago I re-read the John Dortmund series. Now I think I'll read the others.
Apr 23, 2012 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second time reading this book...I enjoy his style, understated humor and irony. It's not that I want to root for criminals, and they're not exactly Robin Hoods, but their victims generally are bigger criminals than they are, especially in this story where they are politicians.
Andrew Neal
Apr 21, 2010 Andrew Neal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's about a thief who gets sprung from prison to pull a job for a politician. It's funny and goofy, in that way that Westlake's funny and goofy novels are funny and goofy.

I thought this was a lot of fun.
May 01, 2008 Isis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haha, my library shelves most of Westlake's books under "Mystery"! Who knew? Lookit all these Westlakes I haven't read!

And it was a good read, frothy and fun, with the added zing of election-year dirty tricks. How timely!
Sandy Bell
Funny, quick read about crooks and politicians (the same really). I love how Westlake always makes you like the bad guy. I highly recommend for beach vacation reading.
Canard Frère
Une histoire de cambrioleurs par Westlake mais sans le personnage Dortmunder : sympathique, assez rythmée mais finalement moins drôle que sa série phare.
Dec 12, 2015 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was on a list of books that I read before 2005. So, I am adding it to my read books on GoodReads.
Oct 07, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a "Dormunder" but it is still a lot of fun. I found it on our bookshelf, so if you come visit us, you can read it.
Oct 05, 2012 April marked it as didnotfinish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The audio got sidetracked on the ipod and I just have never had enough interest in getting back to it.
Dec 16, 2013 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff. Right up there with the best Dortmunder books, so this would be a good one to go to if you've finished all those.
May 31, 2012 Joan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
just strange. There were a few interesting/clever word choices and phrasing choices, but aside from that there is little I recommend about this book.
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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
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