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The Spy In The Ointment

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Paperback, 345-02603-095, 212 pages
Published June 1972 by Ballantine Books (first published 1966)
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Tony Gleeson
A very early Westlake romp, silly and fun.... but having a rather dated mid-60s feel and lacking the discipline that would enhance the gleefully subversive humor of his later work. Hey, he was still learning, and it's fun to watch him learning . This one pokes fun at naïve activism and political extremism, as well as at the staidness of Federal agents. The plot-- for what it's worth-- involves a youthful zealot who gets caught up in the weirdest, most Byzantine conspiracy imaginable and is recru ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Spiros rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who take their espionage with slapstick
J. Eugene Raxford, surprisingly enough, is not a character in a W.C. Fields movie: he is a nebbish sharing a hovel on the Lower East Side with a recalcitrant mimeograph machine. As the head of a pacifist organization with a "present membership of seventeen, twelve of whom are on the inactive list", he is under constant FBI surveillance. All is not bleak, however: he is shacking up with a beautiful, blonde heiress, with an empty head and a heart of gold.
Owing to a clerical error on the part of th
Sure, some of the references in a book written almost fifty years ago will be dated, but this is still a fair amount of fun to read. And one could argue that a story about terrorist plots is actually very timely in today's world.

Gene Raxford, the central character, is pleasantly distinctive. He is certainly not hard-boiled, but also not incompetent, so perhaps "soft-boiled?" I found Westlake's humor effective, and the plot, while zany to the point of absurdity, still somehow holds together prett
I very much enjoyed this book. Fast and light read, clever and pretty funny, and a plot pulling you quickly through.

Basic story is about a pacifist guy who is head of a pacifist group. Due to an FBI typo, his group gets confused with a real terrorist org and he ends up involved in a terrorist ring planning to blow-up the UN. Very clever and funny premise, no?

The book was written in 1966, but didn't feel particularly dated to me.
It may be dated, but I still love this book, the second seriously funny Westlake he wrote. The hapless hero is a pacifist who is forced to work with the FBI to catch some serious terrorists. The tone of the narrative is a good chunk of the fun, here. We see the beginning of Westlake's clever word-play jokes (later, these are sometimes hard to find--you have to study the books to discover some of them).
I first read this book as a teenager and have loved it ever since. I pick it up again every few years (usually when I run across it in a box or when cleaning shelves) and enjoy it all over again. Hopelessly out dated now it still has some timely topics. It's light and funny and just a great read.
This was a fun book to read. The tone and humor reminded me a lot of Tom Robbins, and I love the ordinary-guy-turned-spy storyline. It was a smart, fun, quick read. Highly recommend this, it would make a great vacation book as it is relatively short and fast paced.
Mary Newcomb
Gene Raxford starts and ends this tale as a pacifist. In the middle, he is a spy and a few other things. Only Donald Westlake could pull off this quest, save the UN and kill off most of the "terrorists" while keeping the tale highly amusing.

Denise M.
Sep 14, 2009 Denise M. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
AKA: Alan Marshall, Alan Marsh, James Blue, Ben Christopher, Edwin West, John B. Allan, Curt Clark, Tucker Coe, P.N. Castor, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Samuel Holt, Judson Jack Carmichael, Richard Stark, Donald E. Westlake
I think this is one of Westlake's earlier comic novels. It's kind of funny to realize as he describes a secondary character's house that the dude basically lives in Archie Bunker's basement.
Ken Deshaies
A fun read by a creative and funny spy novelist. Good reading when you wnat something light and not requiring a great deal of deep attention.
Book Concierge
2.5 stars.
This is not his best, but still an entertaining crime caper from 1966. Cold war counter spies play a big role, so it's obviously dated.
My first ever Donal E Westlake... read this back in jr. high. What a great book! It caused me to become a lifelong Westlake fan. Very funny book.
Another wacky comedy caper.
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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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