David's Reviews > The Ax

The Ax by Donald E. Westlake
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's review
Dec 31, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: noirboiled
Read in January, 2011

Donald E. Westlake updates the Gold Medal-Everyman formula for 1997. Not much has changed for honest, hardworking guys since the Frustrating Fifties: They still chase the American Dream like dogs chasing cars, and, when they can't stand the frustration any longer, they cross over to the noir side. Westlake's Everyman antihero is Burke Devore, a middle-manger in the paper industry who has been downsized out of his birthright to the middle class. Though Westlake's narrative is flabbier than your typical Gold Medal PBO, his plot begins more quickly. While Gold Medal antiheroes typically cross into lawlessness by degrees, Burke Devore is fully noir on page one. This is a risky narrative choice: Before readers have a chance to feel sympathy for Burke, they must face the extremity of his behavior.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by James (new)

James Thane I liked this book a lot too--a very clever premise.

Mark I haven't read everything by Westlake (yet), but this is one of my favorites: not just a hard-to-put-down noir story but also a thoughtful and trenchant satire on business and its social contracts. There are very few good books about business, and I'd put this down as one of them. You might like the check out the (French) adaptation into film, LE COUPERET.

David I didn't know about the film--thanks for the tip!

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