Nick's Reviews > The Comedy is Finished

The Comedy is Finished by Donald E. Westlake
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

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bookshelves: crime-fiction-noir
Read in July, 2012

This book, released from a draft that the author had chosen not to publish, is not one of Westlake's best, but still worth reading. A period piece set in 1977, it is about the political and social leftovers of the previous decade, ranging from aging revolutionaries to discredited FBI agents to an aging comedian who found himself on the wrong side of the new mood of the country.

Koo Davis, partly a Bob Hope-type, but with interesting differences, has donated his time to the USO and similar agencies since he got started in World War II. Now, he's in Burbank to tape a new TV special, and during the warmups for the show, he gets kidnapped by a motley group with a very odd agenda. Because this is a Westlake novel, nothing goes smoothly for either criminals or police. Because Davis hasn't been the nicest person in the world, there is also the question of who would pay to get him back, if it's just a kidnapping...

The plot twists in the story sometimes felt like plot holes that had been patched over after being spotted, but at least they were patched over. Some authors don't even manage that. Westlake was a real pro, but I suspect he would have cleaned this up even more, had it been scheduled for release when it was written. As a 1970s post-Watergate crime/politics/entertainment industry novel, it's worth reading and quite enjoyable.

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