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The Fugitive Pigeon
Donald E. Westlake
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The Fugitive Pigeon

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Meet Charlie Poole, bartender, couch potato, and one of the biggest nebbishes in Brooklyn. When two hit-men come after him, he's totally baffled and suddenly on the run. Now Charlie has to learn how to handle his Mafia Uncle Al: Point with a gun, not a finger, and threaten to tell Aunt Florence everything
Audio CD
Published by Sound Library (first published 1965)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  308 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Charles  van Buren
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not great but still entertaining

This 1965 semi-comic crime thriller/whodunit contains numerous cultural references, mostly entertainers, from the 1950's thru the early 60's. Maybe even some from the 1940's. This is fine if you know a lot of trivia from that era or if you just don't care about the meaning of the references. Unfortunately I didn't recognize most of them and it isn't in my nature to ignore them. So I did a lot of web searches. Fortunately I read this novel on my Kindle which made t
Sam Reaves
Early Westlake, 1965. A ne'er-do-well tending bar in a mob joint in Canarsie is shocked when he realizes that the job referred to by two hit men who come in at closing time is him; escaping them by a miracle, he goes on the run to find out why he has been given the black spot. The quest takes him all over the five boroughs in some very odd company and forces him to use resources he didn't know he had.
Not every Westlake is a masterpiece, but any of them will reliably spring you from your quotidia
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this comic mystery when I was a teenager, and I was utterly charmed by the language and attitude of New Yorker Donald E. Westlake, who died on New Year's Eve, on his way out to dinner while on vacation in Mexico.

I'm giving it 5 stars not because it is truly one of the most amazing books I've ever read, but because I instantly hungered for more, and today there are more books by Westlake (7) on my shelf than any author except P. G. Wodehouse. These are fun books, quick reads, but Westlake
Apr 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Scored at the local library's fundraiser rack. An early Westlake, amusing but not up to the Dortmunders, Smoke, etc. Pigeon exhibits the fascination with New York City navigation that eventually reaches comic delight in Stan Murch, but here getting from Canarsie to the Village is just description. The dialogue has not yet reached that deftness that yields a laugh with almost every line. I prefer the Westlake who doesn't worry too much about the mystery but just delights in the absurdity of what ...more
Bhakta Jim
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've finished all the Dortmunder books and wonder what other funny books Donald Westlake wrote this is a pretty good one to start with. The hero is someone with no ambition greater than to keep running his mob-connected uncle's bar and watch movies on the late show, but one day he finds himself on the wrong side of that mob and running for his life for no reason he can see. Very funny stuff. Not as good as a Dortmunder book, but what is?
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good novel in the pure style of D. Westlake, fast and easy reading, with funny parts, and a simple but entertaining plot.

Recommended for lovers of the genre, and a must for those admiring the style of the great Westlake. Nestor
Matthew Jones
This is a very early book of Donald Westlake which shows a lot of his quick wit developing before he established his signature style. Which not as good as some of his later classics which is still a pretty good read. A good mystery if somewhat straight ahead.

Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this comedic take on organized crime and the related fallout. The offhand manner of the narrator and his sometimes straight forward, sometimes meandering descriptions and tellings were delightful! I will be reading more by this author.
K. Counihan
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars Good Story

A little wild and confusing. By the end of the story we find out the police were confused too. Not Westlake's best but still good.
Quentin Feduchin
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedic
Westlake strikes again ..
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Donald Westlake is a writer I enjoy from time to time because of his unique sense of humor. In this offering the humor is a bit understated but Westlake sneaks in an occasional simile that tickles the reader.

Characterization in this novel is a bit week. Charlie runs a bar that is owned by the mob. It suits hin because it does not matter to the mob if the bar makes money or not as it is used as a "drop" for dirty money. They don't even care if Charlie dips into the till. So lazy, good-for-nothin
Rob Kitchin
The Fugitive Pigeon is a comic crime caper. Written in a very assured, confident manner, it trots along a nice, quick pace, with a gentle humour. The plotting is well worked, although relatively predictable, the characters are quite thin and stereotypical, and the story lacks any depth. In a sense, the narrative is all surface and style, with little substance. As such, it provides a mildly entertaining diversion but little more. Which I suspect is precisely what it was intended to do. So on that ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
It is easier to be bored by a book than to explain why you found a book boring. The Fugitive Pigeon is a gentle crime novel of the sort where you never worry that anything seriously bad will happen to the protagonist, in this case a young man who is in danger of being killed (in theory, at least) because the mob mistakenly believes that he has informed against them. Westlake novels of this lighter sort are sometimes described as humorous novels rather than crime novels, but The Fugitive Pigeon i ...more
Chris Gager
Starting tonight. First book by this author for me.

Moving along last night. This plot both is both silly and standard but the telling of it is pretty entertaining. I wouldn't say it was laugh out loud funny(as advertised) but pretty good.

- The role of Mr. Gross in a movie version would have perfect for the late Brando: reminds me of his Missouri Breaks weirdo and Dr. Moreau... effete blimps.

Finished after a bit of a late stay-up. Doofus Charlie wins in the end and gets the/a girl too. Seems to b
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Westlake wrotea number of books much like this in the mid-60's. This is about typical of the quality, and that quality is pretty high.

Some schmuck is working in a mob owned bar, and is fingered as a snitch. He goes all over New York City to try to clear his name, only to find himself in ever deeper trouble.

Good stuff, the kind they don't write anymore.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick light diversion. Basically the perfect palate cleanser after a dense serious novel. There are a lot of Westlake touches that enhance the book and make it easy to ignore the more straightforward elements. (view spoiler) ...more
Eric C
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love DEW. This is one of my least favorites. I wanted to like the main character more. His female sidekick was cooler. Had the “whodunnit” guessed early on and was disappointed to find I was correct. Not his cleanest writing either. As a fan, I’d skip it.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Charlie Poole.
Book on tape.
Another example of Westlake humor... I like it... either you do or you don't.
Canarsie bartender whose uncle is a putz.
Charlie's main motivation in life is watching the late late black and white movie on tv.
Jul 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fantasy
A real quick, fun read. Westlake has yet to let me down. I actually like his later "humor added" works better than the early stuff, but it's all good. This one is a page turner, action from beginning to end.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Mutually acceptable audio book heard on vacation trip with my husband.
Lynette Barfield
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another really great Donald Westlake novel.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, funny PI fiction from 1965.
JR Hawk
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun, lighthearted romp, worthy of a read.
Book Concierge
A madcap caper ... Charlie Poole is fingered by the mob - in error. But he's quick ... and lucky. 3.5 stars.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than I expected, because even though I love Westlake he could be hit or miss.
Denise M.
Sep 14, 2009 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
Charlie Poole is no Archy McNally... that's what i was looking for. i felt disappointed.
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Characters are a bit stereotypical, and the protagonist is an annoying moron at times, but Westlake provides enough humor, especially at the end, to make it a good read
rated it it was amazing
Apr 17, 2014
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Dec 30, 2014
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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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