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Somebody Owes Me Money (Hard Case Crime #44)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,230 ratings  ·  153 reviews

Cab driver Chet Conway was hoping for a good tip from his latest fare, the sort he could spend. But what he got was a tip on a horse race. Which might have turned out okay, except that when he went to collect his winnings, Chet found his bookie lying dead on the living room floor. Chet knows he had nothing to do with it-but just try explaining that to the cops, to the two

Mass Market Paperback, Hard case crime book, HCC-044, 256 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1969)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,230 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: noirboiled
Lightweight, pleasant for a while, tedious in the end--and the author knows it. Near the end of the novel, one of our heroes asks, "Do you know this is ridiculous?" And then later she complains, "You wouldn't get away with that in a mystery story." This is not cutesy metafictional commentary; this is an author who feels compelled to apologize. But Donald E. Westlake is author enough to know that in his line of writing, you don't revise a failure. If want to keep the money coming in, you type THE ...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Chet Conway, a cab driver, gets a tip on a horse instead of money from a customer. The horse is a longshot but Chet puts 35 bucks on him. The horse winds up winning but when Chet goes to collect, his bookie is dead and everyone seems to think he did it. He goes on the run with the dead bookie's sister, searching for the bookie's killer and trying to get his damn money, with two gangs and a detective on his trail. Will he ever get his money?

This was a light-hearted tale with a lot of twists and t
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Apparently I find myself still binging Westlake! What can I's just totally entertaining.
This was OK & kind of funny. Round & round the poor cabbie goes trying to figure out what's going on. There were a couple of good twists. All in all, it was a good read, but I doubt I'll remember it in 6 months.

As a friend pointed out, Westlake writing under his own name has a completely different style than when writing as Richard Stark. I like the latter better, but this was a nice dessert.

This edition is incorrect. I read it as one of the original HCC books, back when they still did p
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald Westlake is a terrific, fun, comedic thriller involving a cab driver, a sexy card dealer from the Vegas strip, and two warring gangs of mobsters. Westlake wrote this in a great voice that is at once easy to follow and humorous. It is not immediately clear what time period this was written in except when you realize that there are no cell phones and no computers and the story is peopled with mobsters with trench coats and heavy-set jowls. In fact, if you didn't kn ...more
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While I suppose the cognoscenti among us may agree that this is decidedly minor Westlake, even minor Westlake has its "broad" appeal. Shall we say.

One opens the book and begins with a situation a lot of us can relate to, and then, rather quickly, and yet inexorably, we find ourselves, along with the protagonist, being drawn into a larger, darker, criminal world. Good thing the murdered man's sister is an appealing blonde!

Despite the alarming number of details that "date" this book, the verve and
DeAnna Knippling
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hard-case-crime
I think I'll just put Westlake into that categories of writers I have no objectivity about. Cabbie gets a tip from a customer to put his money on a horse. He's cheesed about the "tip," but decides to do it anyway -- and makes a tidy sum. The only problem is collecting the money: the bookie's dead, the mob won't pay, a woman is after him claiming that he killed her brother...

Hijinks ensue. Bliss.
BOOK 209 - Mid-20th Century North American Crime Readathon - Round 10
Not every book from Hard Case is a 'great find': this one is okay only because of a twist...
HOOK - 2 stars >>>I bet none of it would have happened if I wasn't so eloquent...Where I am is in a cab in NY City...driving a cab is a lot more pleasant than you might think...<<< opens the story.
Within a few pages we learn that the cab driver has won about a thousand bucks on horses.
PACE - 2: This one moves along a bi
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Richard Stark
Recommended to Still by: I see dead people

A cabbie -part-time leisure gambler- gets a tip on a horse race.
Follows through but fails to collect.
Action ensues.

This is a fun page-turner with brilliant dialogue.

I'd guess you haven't read this one yet.
You probably haven't even read 361.
What's wrong with you?

Read more Westlake.
Trust me.
Stark is the greatest and Coe is sublime but Westlake is a genius.

Notes previously posted:

02/25 page 85

"How hard is it for an author to write such effortless narrative
dialogue as contained in this novel?

How ma
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir-crime
Hilarious and suspenseful. I laughed all the way through. A cab driver shows up to get his winnings only to find the bookie dead. Then rival gangs, police and others start trying to kill him or get info, thinking he has something to do with the murder. Poor dude just wants to get his money!
Craig Childs
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Donald Westlake wrote over 100 books, most of them under either his real name (Westlake) or his more-famous pen name (Richard Stark). The Stark novels were hardboiled and violent and included the now-famous Parker series. The Westlake books, with a few early exceptions, tended to be lighter, funnier, and probably best described as comic capers.

The comic crime caper is hard to pull off. For one thing, murder is not usually considered a funny subject in and of itself. In trying to make it funny, i
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay so I tend to like Westlake. I just finished a really good novel by him (his last). I've enjoyed his Parker books....

Well I guess every game can't be a no hitter...or maybe this is the no hitter but Westlake is the one at bat rather than pitching???

So our protagonist a ne'er do well cab driver who likes to gamble and has gotten himself in a situation where...well where things could get a little unpleasant if he goes any farther in the hole. The someone gives Conway (our "hero") a tip on a su
Jun 26, 2009 rated it liked it
I bought this book the day before Donald Westlake died, and I left it sitting on the shelf for months. It was a reminder that he won't be writing more, and that I better appreciate any of his that I hadn't read.

One of the things that I always admired about Westlake was that he could write great serious crime novels like his Parker series, but he could also write these really funny lighter crime novels like Dortmunder.

Somebody Owes Me Money is more in the Dortmunder style, and it's really interes
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read a lot of Westlake in my early 20's, and as I remember it was all pretty funny stuff, especially the Dortmunder books. Don't remember a thing about this one, and didn't even remember the title - but I have long remembered one snatch of dialogue from one of his books that struck me as classic Westlake, and in Googling the phrase "love your chapeau" something called (new to me) not only identified it as coming from this book, but actually provided the whole exchange:

I went
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
A New York cab driver finally hits big when a fare gives him a tip too good to be true - a bet on an outside horse to win at odds of 22-1. Chet, a gambling man never shies away from a bet, however, this is one piece of insider knowlede he wishes he'd avoided. Arriving at his bookkeepers to collect, Chet finds himself knee deep in murder and the target of two waring mobs who think he's the smoking gun.

Westlake wrote this in 1969, so naturally 'Somebody Owes Me Money' conforms to the genre stereo
Brenda Mengeling
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 49, ebook, fiction, mysteries
Very enjoyable mystery set in late 1960s New York city. Chet Conway is a cabdriver who likes to play poker and bet on horseracing. When a customer gives him a tip on a horse, Chet calls his bookie. When the horse wins, Chet stops by his bookie's apartment to collect, and he finds the bookie murdered. It's not a good thing to find a murdered bookie. Of course the bookie had mob ties, in fact he had ties to two opposing factions, both of whom think Chester knows a lot about the murder. Things aren ...more
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Had a great time with this fast paced tale from Hard Case Crime (a great book series, by the way, I haven't come across a stinker yet).

Donald Westlake is a true master of the mystery and crime fiction genres with a flair for humor in many of his works and Somebody Owes Me Money definitely falls into this category. It is a tightly paced story of a very regular guy who makes a bet, wins, and then winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time when trying to collect. Needless to say he runs afoul o
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I recall watching an interview with Westlake where he describes how he goes about writing his stories. He says that you start out with "voice"--and that in turn leads to characters, which leads to stories. Hence, "Stark" is not just his pseudonym for the Parker series, but also the voice.
It was remarkable to me how much Westlake was able to completely change his storytelling voice for Somebody Owes Me Money. The character Chester is your Average Joe -- the opposite of Parker. And his narration o
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a bit of a heartbreaker. I liked The Hot Rock so much but was anxious to read a Westlake where I hadn't seen the movie so I'd have a cleaner slate. On the very long list of books that seemed intriguing, this one stuck out. And the first almost half of it lives up to that promise. It's smart, funny, clever and all the stuff you'd want out of this genre. Then chapters and chapters are confined to a single apartment and you can see the life slowly go out of this thing. It becomes chatty an ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is everything I love about genre crime fiction. While it's not a literary classic by any stretch, this quick little tale gets in, gets started, gets fun, gets dangerous, gets resolved, and gets out. Pseudo-novellas like this are like potato chips for the reading brain - there's not a ton of nutrition, but dammit, you just can't stop.

In addition, the level of self-awareness in the character of Chet is just fantastic - while he doesn't exactly break the fourth wall, he certainly turns and wi
Magnus Stanke
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
hilarious book - highly recommended
I've read all of Westlake's Richard Stark novels which are anything but funny, albeit fantastically hard boiled.
This one is entertaining from the word go and really often laugh-out funny as well as being a neat narrative
Jul 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: slapstick crime fans
Shelves: hard-case-crime
Donald Westlake is a cool writer, but this isn't one of his better works. Too wacky to be believable, if you like comedy crime you'll be in stitches by this lame fest.
Hilario Peña
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chet Conway es un taxista de lo más elocuente. Sin embargo, la noche en que recogió a un misterioso caballero en el aeropuerto Kennedy, su elocuencia funcionaba al máximo.

"Hablamos sobre la inminente nevada y lo que debía hacerse al respecto. Sazoné la charla con uno que otro chascarrillo y me dejé caer algunas sesudísimas reflexiones sobre los políticos en Washington, la industria automotriz y la contaminación."

Cuando Chet llegó a su destino el pasajero se le quedó mirando.

"Ahora se supone que
Michael T Bradley
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This is KIND OF a comedic retelling of the first Parker novel, The Hunter. It reminded me of it so much, in fact, that I did some research to find out which one came out first, and found out, as I already knew but had forgotten, that Westlake wrote both, just ... the Parker novels he wrote under a pseudonym.

In any case, in this book our protagonist, a cabbie named Chet, wins big on the horses because of a tip from a mysterious but knowledgeable stranger in his cab, and when he goes to collect, h
Luke Sims-Jenkins
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Can you give a book an extra star, because it has one of the best jokes you've ever read? I did.

I've been reading a lot of Westlake lately, mostly his work under the name Richard Stark, and I think i needed a break from that dark world. Well at least for one book anyway. I stuck with the same author though, because I'm still in that Westlake mood and I'm glad I chose Somebody Owes Me Money.

The books is part mystery and part comedy of errors. Westlake it seems is playing around with the conventio
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
An quick, enjoyable read from the master of the crime/comedy, or comic caper, as Wikipedia has defined the genre. It's not madcap keystone cops type stuff, but the humor outweighs the crime, and although some bullets fly, it's pretty tame on the violence scale too.

Chet Conway is a NY cabbie with very little dough, and a penchant for twice weekly poker games and playing the horses. After one ride, in lieu of a few dollars the passenger gives Chet a tip on a horse. He ends up winning nearly a gra
Nick Anderson
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fun as all hell, and if you're not familiar with the gambling world you'll end up discovering a few new terms to boot. Westlake's dialog is great here, and the overall tone is just madcap enough to leave you inclined to overlook a couple things.

Those things (for me anyway) being a last-minute twist in the ending that, if you're not quite as humored by the rest of the book, can feel a little cheap. Obviously, I was able to overlook it and take it as part of the theme of the story. Also, I would'
The author has fun with this detective novel. New York cabbie, Chet Conway, gets a tip on a horse instead of real money. But the tip was good at odds of over 30:1 and life seems good, except collecting from the bookie has a minor glitch....cabbie finds him dead in his apartment. And now all hell breaks loose...everyone rousting poor cabbie....the bookie's sister, two rival gangs, the police detective. Even one of his poker buddies may be involved in the mayhem. A great romp and well-suited solut ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chet's bookie is murdered, and poor Chets get thrown into the middle of a mob war with mobsters, cops, and dames all thinking he is a major mob player and/or assassin. Really, Chet is just a schmuck that wants his $930!

Having just read-and hated-Westlake's Dortmunder, I was a little apprehensive about reading another Westlake crime/humor mash-up. Color me surprised, then, when I ended up really enjoying this one a lot! The mystery is pretty convoluted, but the book is hilarious and moves at a fa
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very whimsical Hard Case Crime story in that there was a very likable protagonist and his central story was more innocent in nature (wrong guy, wrong place and someone who just wants his money). The story was fun throughout and a good whodunit. However, the ending was a bit weak once the reveal took place (felt a bit forced and too concise after such a drawn out story). Otherwise, another entertaining Westlake story.
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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
“I sat up and the room was full of a man with a gun.” 2 likes
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