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The Busy Body

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  344 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Edgar Award Finalist: A mob boss’s right-hand man must track down a missing cache of heroin. The corpse isn’t anybody special—a low-level drug courier—but it has been so long since the organization’s last grand funeral that Nick Rovito decides to give the departed a big send-off. He pays for a huge church, a procession of Cadillacs, and an ocean of flowers, and enjoys the ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Road (first published 1966)
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Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Whenever I want a mystery with noir notes, a great sense of humor and deft plotting, I know I can turn to master writer Donald Westlake for an easy and entertaining read.

In this novella from about half a century ago, Westlake features Aloysius Engel, who has become the righthand man to mob boss Nick Rovito in New York. Engel's assignment: dig up the body of one of the family's recently deceased members, after Rovito discovers he has mistakenly been buried wearing a suit with thousands of dollars
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
In the mid/late 1960s, Donald E. Westlake's publishers were sometimes billing him as a humorist rather than a crime writer, and The Busy Body is his first humorous novel where I get the joke. The differences between The Busy Body and Westlake's previous novel, The Fugitive Pigeon, are instructive. I thought that the allegedly humorous Pigeon was poor because it so closely resembled a traditional hardboiled novel that it seemed like just a watered-down version of the real thing. In The Busy Body, ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Donald E. Westlake wrote in the neighborhood of a hundred novels, publishing both under his own name and six pseudonyms. I'm a fan Richard Stark, the Westlake persona that wrote the Parker novels, stories of a master thief and alpha predator whom the reader observes with rapt attention and fascination. I had never read a "Westlake" novel, so I picked up this one from 1966.

I was slightly disappointed. I knew Westlake novels were known for their almost screwball comedy. The crooks in these stories
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a penchant for comedies of misunderstanding
Early Westlake, and a blast. Al (Aloysius, to his mother, and to his mother only) Engel is Nick Rovito's righthand-man in the New York Mob: all in all, it's a pretty cushy gig, affording him a nice apartment on Carmine Street, nice clothes, nice booze, and a very nice class of female companionship. One day, he is given an entirely distasteful assignment, one that includes manual labor (and a car with a manual transmission), and his life becomes a Kafka-esque nightmare, with too many widows (espe ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another delightful Westlake story blending humor and bad guys together in a frolic of inappropriate assumptions and cross-purposes. This was a wonderful listen as a well-respected member of the local mob organization is asked to dig up a body to retrieve a suit the dead mobster has been buried in; it contained a lot of heroin sewn into the lining. Problem is the coffin is empty and he gets accused of selling out his boss. Soon he's running from everyone including a Deputy Inspector Callahan, a d ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
fun read.
Sam Mauro
The Cannibal
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lire un Westlake est toujours un plaisir, même si ce n’est pas un avec le cambrioleur malchanceux Dortmunder.

New-York, années 60. Nous voici dans une Organisation qui a tout de la Mafia…

Alyosius Engel est devenu le bras droit du patron de l’organisation, Nick Rovito. C’est un peu par accident qu’Al est devenu le bras droit parce qu’il a tout du bras gauche.

Voilà que notre pauvre Al est chargé par son boss d’aller déterrer le corps d’un membre de l’organisation, Charlie Brody. Pourquoi ? Parce qu
Whistlers Mom
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you lose a body?

Westlake was known for his "comic caper" crime fiction and this is one of his most famous. And yet, I found it a little surprising. I suppose that "caper" brings to mind a bunch of amateurs. A group of smart, bored young men looking for a big score and pitting their wits against the cops. A "gang" for whom finding and exposing the weaknesses of the business world is as important as the haul itself.

But the guys involved in this "caper" aren't amateurs, but career Mafia. The
Jonathan Dunsky
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gem by Westlake. Perfect short read for comic-crime lovers.

The premise is simple: A low-level gangster by the name of Charlie Brody dies accidentally one day and the local boss, a man named Nick Rovito, decides to give him a big funeral. Brody was a mule. He used to carry dope and cash on the New York-Baltimore route. The place where he kept the dope was a special pocket in the lining of his blue suit.

On the day of the funeral, it turns out that Brody's wife had given the mortician her late hu
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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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