The Hook
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The Hook

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  392 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Critically acclaimed for his recent bestseller, "The Ax, " Westlake returns with a tale of twisted psychological suspense involving two cunning authors--and one deadly proposition.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 2nd 2000 by Mysterious Press
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Dan Schwent
Bryce Proctor, a best-selling author, is going through a nasty bout of writer's block and an even nastier divorce. He runs into an old acquaintance, Wayne Prentice. Wayne is a good but low selling author who's burned through his latest pseudonym. Proctor makes Prentice an offer he can't refuse: Let Proctor put his name on Prentice's newest book and they'll split the profits fifty-fifty. The only condition: Proctor's soon to be ex-wife must die...

How's that for a Hook? Westlake pours on the psych...more
Think about how many mysteries, thrillers and crime novels are published anymore. Then think about how many people are writing them. There’s a whole lot of authors sitting in front of laptops thinking about murdering people. What if some of them got a little too involved in their work?

Bryce Proctor is a very successful novelist who writes best selling thrillers, but he has a big problem. He’s going through a prolonged and messy divorce that has given him a bad case of writer’s block. Bryce bumps...more

Last year I read Donald E. Westlake's The Ax, which I felt was a phenomenal book. Following my cue, Stephen King also placed it on his all-time favorite list. Okay, the last sentence might have a bit of exaggeration on my part.

But believe me when I tell you that there was not a single book which a reader could go-to after devouring "The Ax". I have futilely searched for a book with more or less similar theme, or which was as good.

But turns out, I was searching too far. Westlake was aware of th...more
What a fun & twisted tale!

a story about "two men who live in a world of fiction, words, scenes, characters, and the tyranny of the New York Times bestseller list", where "Wayne Prentice sells his soul to his old friend" [Bryce Proctorr] and "begins a Hitchcockian journey to all the things he has ever wanted - at a price far too great to pay..."

Westlake is a fabulous storyteller, and this book is no exception. Twists and turns until the very last page!
If you're a writer (or an aspiring writer) this is a fun and sort of creepy story about a writing partnership. One bestselling author is blocked and facing a deadline, a former bestselling author can't get any interest in his latest book. There's a catch to the collaboration that's a totally unbelievable, but the parts of the novel that deal with the publishing industry and the daily grind of being a working writer make the silly parts ignorable.
This was, as far as I can remember, my first Westlake. It wasn't bad. As a matter of fact, if it had been written in the early 40s--or even in an early 40s setting--it would have been better. Not great, just better.

The problem is that although the plot smacks of Strangers on a Train Westlake is no Highsmith. And even though the one violent scene is similiar to The Killer Inside Me in that the violence is all the more distrubing because of the lack of emotion, Westlake is no Thompson. Westlake's...more
book on tape

Two writers -- one famous, one unjustly obscure -- dominate Westlake's subtle, elegant narrative. The first, Bryce Proctorr, is a literary brand name, a perennially bestselling novelist who commands seven figure advances and whose tangled private life is routinely recorded in People magazine. But beneath the surface glitter of his high-powered lifestyle, Bryce is in trouble. His new novel is more than a year overdue, he is deep in the throes of a protracted, potentially ruinous divor...more
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Puntuación real: 3 1/2

Una historia muy amena y de fácil lectura que, aunque en su planteamiento de arraque recuerda un poco al "Extraños en un Tren" de Patricia Highsmith, va adquiriendo entidad propia a medida que pasan las páginas y evolucionan los personajes. Una evolución acaso no tan previsible como se pudiera pensar en primera instancia y que, desde luego, encuentra su broque perfecto con el impactante final.

Interesante también la mezcla de género negro con las vicisitudes del proceso de c...more
A real good pot-boiler, the kind of novel on writer's block that makes you want to create, lest you find yourself out of ideas and need to hire some other guy to do all your dirty deeds. I should have seen the ending coming, but Westlake does his best to make you enjoy the journey.

Like another good Westlake novel of around the same time, The Ax, his contemporary settings are now ultimately historical. The entire publishing business has been turned on its head with e-publishing and e-books, and m...more
THE HOOK is a delightfully nasty little piece of candy: a satire on the publishing industry wrapped around a Hitchcockian infernal bargain between a famous author who's "blocked" and a prolific author who can't get published. The story moves quickly, with wonderful details to sketch out the NYC and CT locales as well as the behind-the-scenes views of the writer's workday and the publisher's offices. More to the point, THE HOOK also has one of the most brutal murder scenes I have ever read, as we...more
This book is like Mr. Toad's wild ride. You know from the start that it going to be very different. And, all those twists and turns are, well, surprising. You do see the end just before it comes, and you close you eyes and grit your teeth. It is that kind of ride.
Tony Gleeson
Westlake obviously intended this as a followup for his dank, creepy, fascinating "The Ax," IMO one of his best ever. "The Hook" fell way short of that to me. He seems to be mining the same territory but I guess (to continue the metaphor) he stripped it pretty clean last time. This one didn't have the quality of plot of the predecessor and I found the ending way too abrupt (as if he suddenly decided he HAD TO FINISH IT AND GET IT TO THE PUBLISHER) and confusing. I absolutely love Westlake and wou...more
Jun 27, 2014 Spiros rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of inexorable suspense
Interesting tale of a symbiotic relationship between two authors, with an inevitable twist in the tail. Westlake manages to keep the suspense percolating at a low heat.
Audiobook: Good story, weel done
I would use this novel as textbook in a creative writing course, and not just for the scathing description of the contemporary publishing world, but for the continuous lessons it provides in plot building, and the incredibly deep psychological portrait of the two characters and their perverse relationship.
A perfect rendition of the theme of the double, worthy to stand beside such masterpieces of the genre as Dorian Gray, Jeckyll and Hyde, Fight Club and L'Uomo in Più.
Patricia Lundstrom
Slow moving book but got hooked and had to read to the end - quite the ending
Ellen Keim
I read this in a few hours. It definitely keeps you going from the very beginning. It ends abruptly and a bit predictably, but it's a satisfying read, nonetheless. This is the first book I've read by this author, so I can't judge how it stacks up to his others. I followed it up with a short story in the anthology Transgressions and was even more impressed by his writing. I definitely will be looking for more books by this author.
I loved this book!!! It had me from the very beginning because it reminded me of the Hitchcock movie "Strangers on a Train" and I'm a huge fan of Hitchcock. The writing was very clean and fast-paced. I didn't know whether to love or hate the characters and my opinions changed several times throughout the book. And the ending... woah!

Part of a bookcrossing bookring. Passed on to a bookcrosser.
This is a pretty good riff on Strangers on a Train, focusing on a blocked novelist who trades a failed novelist $500,000 for a manuscript and a murder. Needless to say, things do not work out as well as one might hope. Westlake is typically sharp in his characterization and plotting, building to a not particularly surprising but certainly dramatic and effective conclusion.
Crazy. I liked the novel-writing atmosphere, and thought the characters were well-drawn. The hook of this story is amazing; while I don't think it's anywhere near excellent as a book, I just had to find out how this wild plot ended. I wasn't surprised but neither was I disappointed... It ended at the right place for the story, but I'd love to know what happens next!
Mar 18, 2013 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny by: Clare
Quick read that I picked up when I left "Falling Together" at my office... the ending was a little unexpected but I should have seen it coming. I knew there would be a twist, just didn't know what it would be!

Interesting look into the world of novelists/writers. Now I wonder which of my favorite authors have people helping them behind the scenes.
Thacher Cleveland
Another great Westlake read. An author with a book he can't sell and a bestselling author who can't write anymore meet up after years apart and decide a little bit of criss-cross is in order. The published author gets the book in return for killing his friends wife. It's not about the act of murder, but the consequences and entanglements that it causes.
Larry Webber
This is one of the darker Westlake novels, like The Ax, which shares an economy of language and brisk pacing with his Stark/Parker novels. I read this in 'two bites' and should have put that light out and slept long before I finished the book last night, but I couldn't put it down, so the light stayed on until @ 5a.m.
The last page is killer!
What I liked about this was it was a different genre (sort of ) than the Dortmunder Westlakes. REminded me of Strangers on a Train, sort of. Westlake is so often associated with his comic crime capers, that it's easy to forget how versatile a writer he is-wow!
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
Denise M.
Sep 13, 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
Eh, this book was ok. The interesting part was over quite early in the book, then it went on and on and basically ends the way I expected. Easy read, good to read before bed as it doesn't take a lot of concentration.
Andrew Neal
Murder and writer's block.

This is the first Westlake book I read and I enjoyed it. Not as good as the Ax, but less grim if that's how you prefer your murder mysteries.
Canard Frère
Moins convaincant que "Le couperet", l'ambiance cynique rappelle un peu ce titre mais la fin est un peu trop téléphonée et gâche le plaisir des premières pages.
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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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“Story ideas had never been a problem for him, there'd always been more ideas than time to write them, he'd reject one perfectly good notion because he fell more simpatico toward a different one. But of course he could never go back to any of those ancient story stubs, they wouldn't still have juice in them.

For him, creating a novel was like gardening; you choose your seed, you treat it exactly the way the package says, and gradually a thing of beauty - or of sturdiness, or of nutrition - grows up and becomes yours. The seed you don't nurture doesn't wait to be doted over later; it shrivels and dies.”
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