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The Hook

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  571 Ratings  ·  73 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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(showing 1-30)
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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
Jul 02, 2008 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
May 10, 2010 Maddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000-reads
Bryce Proctorr is doing research at the library, or at least sitting there pretending to do research. He's a best-selling author who's way behind on meeting the commitment with his publisher for his next book. He's in the process of obtaining an acrimonious divorce from his money-grubbing second wife, and the Muse has deserted him. As Bryce leaves the library, he spots an old friend that he hasn't seen for 20 years, Wayne Prentice. Wayne is also a writer, but nowhere near as successful as Bryce. ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Maurean rated it really liked it
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.
Rita O'Connell
That was a quick, easy read.

I got interested in Donald Westlake because Dan Simmons had dedicated a book to him, so I looked him up and read two of his books. This one was published in 2000, and was similar to the other in that Westlake's fiction is easy reading, and things that seem like they should be harder to make happen, happen very easily. Fiction.
Mar 26, 2016 EpidermaS rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lubię, kiedy pisarze piszą o pisarzach. Prawie zawsze jest to gwarancja tego, że książka będzie dobra. Tak jest i tym razem.

Po "Historię..." sięgnęłam, nastawiając się na dobry thriller. Ku mojej uciesze okazało się, że jest nawet lepiej - autor zaserwował nam świetnie studium psychologiczne. Najmocniejszą stroną książki są postacie. W żadnym wypadku nie można o nich powiedzieć, że są mdłe czy papierowe. Ich charaktery naprawdę zwracają uwagę czytelnika. Decyzje, dobierane słowa, gesty… Dokładn
Sep 29, 2012 Pamela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2013 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron Martz
Oct 17, 2014 Aaron Martz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an ingenious and ruthless thriller that keeps on twisting and twisting until the tension is almost unbearable. Every time I thought I knew what was coming next, Westlake came up with something completely unexpected, and the ending, which snuck up on me, is like a sucker punch to the guts. It is bone-chilling in how quiet and simple it is. This book reminded me of The Talented Mr. Ripley in the way it dealt with the slow mental decline of a pathological character, and in other ways it is ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Rom
“You don’t get off the hook that easily…” A turn of the century standalone thriller from Mr Westlake, suddenly referencing email and Amazon. Chapter 1 presents you with a setup not a million miles away from Ira Levin’s ‘Deathtrap’. Smirking, you say to yourself, ‘that’s rather neat, lets see where this goes’. Except that's *not* the hook. Oh no. In the last line of the chapter Westlake suddenly puts an Ace down on the table and off we go. It initially feels a bit like a prose version of some US ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Estibaliz79 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 09, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Debra Daniels-zeller
Wayne Prentice and Bryce Proctorr made an interesting writing duo in this page turning novel. I love reading Westlake's books because he is a master at crafting stories that are funny and sad and this one also makes an interesting comment about the publishing industry. With lots of twists and turns this story feels a bit like Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. What makes it memorabale is Wayne's girlfriend Susan who is hilariously greedy for more material things. It's the reader's "Oh no," parts. ...more
Pat Roberts
Feb 16, 2016 Pat Roberts added it
Shelves: horror
Would you kill someone for big bucks if your career was fading and you needed the money? Well of course you wouldn't. But Wayne Preston, fading author, was approached by Bryce Proctor, famous and successful author, to do in his estranged wife Lucy. If Wayne did the dastardly deed, Proctor would share the one million bucks he was about to make on yet another book; in fact, he was willing to give Wayne 1/2. If anyone watches 48 Hour Mystery or Dateline, than you know this isn't as far-fetched as i ...more
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
Tim Kimber
THE HOOK concerns a novelist with writer's block adapting an old friend's unsold novel in order to pass it off as his own - with a murderous caveat, of course.

However, when THE HOOK invites us to examine novels from an editor's perspective, it becomes increasingly clear this book had none. The characters' motivations are flimsy, their actions dubious and their consequences not fully considered.

Spoilers and analysis here:
Ellen Keim
Dec 30, 2010 Ellen Keim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2015 Linden rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adult readers
Recommended to Linden by: Another book by the author

The literary term, hook, means an opening bit of plot which captures the reader's interest and imagination. Author Westlake introduces us to best-selling writer Bryce Proctorr who himself uses the term in a different way. Proctorr has writer's block. In addition to the pressure to complete the book he can't write, he is involved in an ugly divorce. In the local library Bryce meets Wayne, a fellow writer who has faded from notice, and has an idea that will solve all his problems. (280 p.)
Nov 06, 2014 Hans rated it really liked it
4+ stars - Another solid tale from Donald Westlake. He wanders into Patricia Highsmith territory with a Strangers on a Train scenario that is grounded in the publishing world. The story wanders a bit in spots (not unlike a Highsmith novel), but the ending is pure Westlake.

Between the Richard Stark Parker novels, Dormunder series, and the one-offs, this is the 53rd or 54th book Westlake book that I've read…and there is still more to discover.
Jan 25, 2013 Riccardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Larry Webber
Mar 31, 2008 Larry Webber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aug 04, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the advantages of writing genre fiction is that if you need your characters to not have a shred of conscience to make your plot work you can write them that way. Unfortunately when you do that you end up with cardboard characters who the reader does not really care about.

Having said that, Westlake can plot a book and it moves with lightning speed.
Nov 08, 2015 Craig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Bit of a strange one from the usually solid Westlake. The premise is very ho-hum and the execution was poor. The character actions and mood swings were unbelievable to me and the story felt very flat as if delivered by rote. I was waiting for something to happen or the story to get better all the way through.
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.
Nov 06, 2012 Dominick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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.
Mar 18, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
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.
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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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“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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