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God Save the Mark: A Novel of Crime and Confusion

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  888 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
* mark n. An easy victim; a ready subject for the practices of a confidence man, thief, beggar, etc.; a sucker.-Dictionary of American Slang, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960

That's the long definition of a mark. But there's a shorter one. It goes:

* mark n. Fred Fitch

What, you ask, is a Fred Fitch? Well, for one thing, Fred Fitch is the man with the most extensive collection of
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1967)
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Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poor Fred, he's the mark for every con man in the area, the pawn in every scheme. And to make it even worse, he knows it! Usually within 5 minutes he's onto the scam but darn it, the crooks get away every time!

Gullible to the core, Fred is determined to finally stop being such a pushover and he gets his opportunity to test himself when he received a letter from a local attorney stating that he has inherited nearly half a million dollars from an uncle he'd never heard of. There's something fishy
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Gods for the Grifter set!

Fred Fitch is just a normal guy who is constantly swindled by nearly every grifter, con man, con woman and thief in New York City. The main character is Fred who gets sucked up in a series of situations after having received $300K following his Uncle's death.

Not quite a comedy but very funny, not quite a drama but with dramatic moements and not quite a thriller this book is an interesting meditation on a single person and his growing awareness of those people ar
Daniel Polansky
About a sucker who inherits half a million dollars, and the various folk who attempt to con it from him. This is not quite up to the standards of Aztec Idols,but it's funny and clever, Westlake has some great throw-away lines as well as a real insider's grasp of New York, which comes out nice on the page. Library, but probably I'd drop it just cause I've got better examples of him doing this kind of thing.
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in this book. I have enjoyed a lot of Westlake's other offerings, so I expected an enjoyable romp. But, the naivete of the Fred was impossible to accept. Every con could be seen a mile ahead, but throughout the book he talked about how he figured it right afterwards. You would think after being scammed a few times he would finally remember.

Anyway. I did like the description of the characters, and the story itself. The language effectively stuck me in the 1960s, as did a lot o
Josh Hamacher
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Fred Fitch is a born mark, a man of incredible gullibility and a favorite target of con men. Being a smart man and relatively self-aware, he knows this (but never realizes he's being conned until it's too late). When he inherits a large sum of money from a relative he's never met, it seems like everyone wants to help relieve him of his newfound burden.

This is a fast, fun read that's laugh-out-loud funny in places. It's also a good mystery story by a Grand Master of the field and it won the Edgar
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a humorous mystery
I read this as part of an ongoing project to read all the Edgar winners for Best Novel. It was the 1968 winner, published in 1967.

Although another character refers to him as a shlemiel, I'd say Fred Fitch, the protagonist and narrator of GOD SAVE THE MARK, is a shlimazel. The way I heard it, the shlemiel spills the soup in the shlimazel's lap. Fred Fitch's way of being a shlimazel is that he's a sap, a sucker, a mark. He has fallen for every con or scam that's been tried on him all his life. He
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you looked up the word 'gullible' in the dictionary Fred Fitch's picture would surely be there. There is not a con man in New York City who hasn't tried and succeeded in bilking Fred and separating him from his money. Fred's Uncle Matt, of whom Fred has never heard, has been murdered and in his will he left all of his money to Fred -- a tidy sum of over $300,000. Along with the money Uncle Matt apparently also left Fred his amply endowed girlfriend/stripper Gertie Divine. Apparently Uncle Mat ...more
Chris Bubb
I like Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels--"Good Behavior" is one of my favorite books ever. I thought this would be a fun entry in the same vein, and it was, mostly. I enjoyed a lot of it, but a couple of things bugged me.

One was the character of Fred Fitch himself. I found it really hard to believe that an obviously smart, self-aware guy would keep falling for the same scams over and over again. Part of this disbelief stemmed from Westlake's decision to have Fitch narrate the novel. I thi
Apr 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While technically a murder mystery, much of this book is a crazy romp through New York c.1960, with unusual characters, witty banter and hilarious situations. It's only at the end -- the very end -- when this all slows down and the plot is tied together.

The "Mark" in the title refers to the main chracter (Fred Fitch) who is the ultimate "sucker" when it comes to falling for cons. He reacts by withdrawing from society, but this is to no avail when he inherits money from a perviously unknown -- a
Brooks Jones
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to have stumbled upon this book when it was offered free on the Kindle. This is a laugh-out-loud crime caper, centered on a gullible protagonist (Fred Fitch) who unexpectedly comes into a large sum of money when an uncle he never knew leaves him his fortune after being murdered. In spite of himself, Fitch comes out on top at the end, but there are amusing and suspensful twists and turns along the way. Lucky for me Westlake was a prolific writer. It should take me quite a while to mow ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. It always kept me guesing what would happen next and the ending wasn't what i expected. The best part about this story is how funny it is. You can't help but love the main character and all his flaws. I didn't feel like any of this book was only there as "filler" all of it was important to the plot and entertaining. I can't wait look up Donald Westlake and see what else he has written.
Mike Harper
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a long-time Westlake fan, so it was no surprise that I liked this Edgar Award winner. I liked it a lot. I liked the main character and narrator, a "mark" of whom everybody takes advantage, and the plot, unexpectedly complicated, and the humor. I liked the fact that this is a creative novel, unlike any other I've read (even unlike any of the other Westlake novels I've read).
So why only four stars? I'm not sure. Read it and see whether you agree.
A Donald E.Westlake masterwork !

A book with great subtle humuor,many funny,amazing characters. Also had so many twists,unpredictable story.

Fred Fitch is one of his best characters. I thought his comic crime was at its best with the first 4 Dortmunder books i have read but this book was stronger,so much funnier.
Andrew Schneider
Just finished reading this for the second time, and it was even funnier than the first. Got me through a rough few days flying halfway around the world for an embed with US troops in Afghanistan. I'm leaving my copy at the outpost library so that our men and women in uniform can find a well-needed laugh.
DeAnna Knippling
The ultimate mark stops being gullible.
Great book but the ending was lazy. A 268 page book that builds up suspence from page one shouldn't be able to wrap up all the loose ends in the last three pages. Feels like you are short changed with such a abrupt, convenient ending. I would have given this book Five Stars easily but, like I said, the ending was disappointing and needed another ten pages or so to make you feel like everything was truly resolved. Always seems like the author runs out of time and in a panic wraps up the story wit ...more
Magnus Stanke
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I still wonder at Westlake's range as a writer. While he was churning out highly readable Richard Stark 'Hunter' novels in the 60s and early 70s, he also wrote a bunch of comedy thrillers like this one, published under the Westlake brand.
While Hunter's novels are violent, stark and uncompromising, this one is the total opposite. It's warm, funny and acceptable for the whole family. The humour is goofy, quirky and the narrative almost secondary to the stylishly fun ride.

An easy read.
A complex confidence game yarn with a light touch. There's a third of a million dollars involved, a pair of homicide cops that sound like Laurel and Hardy, an ex-stripper - and New York's most gullible patsy, the Mark.

A slight departure in style from Westlake's other books, chiefly the Parker and Dortmunder series, but a fun read.
Patrick Gaertner
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A goofy and fun story about the most gullible man on earth actually inheriting a fortune from an uncle he never knew he had. And from there it becomes one of my favorite types of stories, and incompetent Detective tale. It's a whole lot of fun.
Lisa Powell
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How'd I miss Westlake for so long?
Masayuki Arai
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
speedy :)
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb comic crime nonsense farce chock full of hilarious dialogue, absurd chases and oddball characters. A swift read that never gets dull. Possibly Westlake's funniest book.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-rated
Classic droll, deadpan New York crime caper by at best semi-competent criminals.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

God Save the Mark

by Donald E. Westlake

Forge, 268 pages, Paperback, 2004; reissue of a book
originally published in 1967, with a new introduction by Otto

One in Forge's "Otto Penzler Presents . . ." series of
reissues, complete with a new introduction by Penzler himself,
this publication sees the welcome reappearance of Donald
Westlake's 1967 comic delight God Save the Mark. It's not
among the very best of Westlake's deliriously inventive capers,
but it's close to that leading group and certainl
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea there was a subgenre of mystery known as “comic crime fiction,” but Westlake’s made me a believer!  Funny.
This was the second or third book that I loaded on my kindle. I am not sure why it took me so long to actually read it. I have always enjoyed Donald Westlake, so it should have been top of the pile

I am glad that I read this book, but I am not sure who I would recommend it to. Bill will read it eventually.

Fred Fitch is the mark. His picture should be next to the definition for mark in the dictionary. He has fallen for every con ever contemplated. Fortunately for Fred, this book was written before
Quentin Feduchin
Who can really criticize Donald Westlake's books? For one thing, he's passed away several years ago so he doesn't care, and secondly after writing more than 100 books I doubt whether he ever would have given a damn.
This is truly a ridiculous novel, but then that's what Don really liked writing about, more than anything else. He liked to write books about extremes, either extremely silly and funny, or, as with his Parker novels written under the pseudonym of Richard Stark, extremely-serious-but-m
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful comedy crime-caper from one of the masters of humourous crime. Fred Fitch is a mark, someone who believes he has been at the receiving end of every one of the seventeen thousand con men operating in New York at any time. But then comes the turnaround. Fred is suddenly left a huge legacy by an uncle he didn’t even know existed and suddenly Fred is the most popular man around, as he is chased, hounded, shot at and led on a merry run around New York in this wild caper that will ...more
Tim Hicks
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This early Westlake (c. 1967) would be a dandy answer if anyone asks you, "Why do you like Westlake so much?"

This is an Edgar-award winning story, if lightweight. Our hero, and I use the word advisedly, has a grand and amusing adventure. But many writers can tell you a good story. Some can include (what turns out to be) a complex plot. Only a very few can make you enjoy the ride as much as Westlake does.

He uses words brilliantly. You smile, you laugh. You raise an eyebrow and leave it up for ha
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I think part of it is that it was written in the 1960's so it has a bit of an old-fashioned feel, and partly because I didn't have a bunch of people telling me how excellent it was and elevating my expectations.

This book is fun, sometimes funny, and interesting. It's about a guy who is gullible and has been the sucker for every con known to man. He inherits a bunch of money from an uncle he never knew he had, and then the grifters come out of the woodwork. He goes from trusti
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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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