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Forever and a Death

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  381 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up—about a Western businessman seeking revenge after being kicked out of Hong Kong when the island was returned to Chinese rule—had all the elements of a classic Bond adventure, but political con ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Hard Case Crime
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  381 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
When engineer George Manville invented a way to create a soliton wave that would destroy buildings build atop landfill, Richard Curtis, his employer, was pleased beyond measure. However, a woman's near-death during the initial test and Curtis' reaction to it has put them at odds. Can Manville stop Curtis before he uses the process against its true target?

I've read 70-something books in the Hard Case Crime Series and I'm a fan of Donald Westlake so this one was an easy grab when the fine folks at
Westlake...Donald Westlake.

This is one of the more intriguing back stories to a novel being released years after an author’s death that you’ll ever hear. Back in the ‘90s Donald Westlake worked up an outline to a James Bond movie that would have been the follow up to Goldeneye, but for various Hollywood reasons the studio went in a different direction. Westlake then reworked those basic ideas into a novel he stuck in a drawer that Hard Case Crime is now publishing almost ten years after his deat
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bad guy - a construction mogul Richard Curtis - had a grand plan of getting even richer while killing countless people just to prove the point and hide his theft. He decided to start small and test his destructive powers cleaning up the surface of a small empty island in the Pacific. The brain behind the idea and all the practical implementations was a good guy called George Manville. During their test run an environmentalist (think Greenpeace) ship came and started to make nuisance.

A crazy y
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Back in the 1990s, Eon Productions worked with a number of writers to develop the story for the follow-up to Goldeneye. One of those writers was Donald Westlake, legendary author of over 100 crime novels, the perhaps most famous of which were the Parker books (under his pseudonym of Richard Stark).

In 1995, before Goldeneye was even released, Westlake turned into Eon two treatments for “Bond 18.” Both his treatments apparently used as their backdrop Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
It states on the copyright page that “Forever and A Death” is produced by “Windfall LLC”. A quick google search informs the searcher that Windfall LLC is actually “Charles Ardai's company named “Winterfall LLC”. We also find that Westlake wrote two story treatments for the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies “in collaboration with Bond series writer-producer Michael G. Wilson. None of Westlake's ideas made it into the completed film, but in 1998 the author used the first treatment as the basis ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really really enjoyed this. My full review can be found at my website:

(Full disclosure: I received an uncorrected proof Advance Reading Copy from the publisher several weeks ago, hence publishing this review before the book actually hits the stands.)
Benoit Lelièvre
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel answered a question I'm sure nobody ever asked themselves: would a James Bond novel be better if it didn't have James Bond in it. Of course it would! FOREVER AND A DEATH, one of Donald Westlake's "lost" novels was originally supposed to be a James Bond movie and when it fell through, he did what any great writer would've done: he wrote it anyway.

There is no James Bond in this book but it doesn't matter because there's a demented capitalist villain, a crazy international conspiracy, as
Forever and a Death is an ok action book set in Australia, Singapore and Honk Kong that thematically resembles a plot lifted straight from James Bond, complete with Westalke’s own Bond Girl in the form of Kim, a fearless diver with ties to an environmental activist group.

Engineer George Manville is the hero and he largely plays the part but reads too clever and tough at times; easily dispatching bay guys without breaking much of a sweat.

The main element of the story is revolves around a business
Bill Lynas
Jun 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
So, what went wrong here ? It started (many years ago) with a screenplay for a James Bond film that the producers never used. Sensibly, Donald Westlake turned his unused script into a novel. Of course, without copyright to 007, he made the novel with his own characters. So far so good.
I am a huge James Bond fan & I've read & enjoyed some of Westlake's fast paced novels featuring professional thief & killer Parker, which he wrote under the pen name of Richard Stark. I was expecting something of a
Thomas Todd
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sjpl
3 1/2 stars. Nice solid work from Westlake. With it being a Hard Case Crime collection I had to read it as I'm a die hard HCC fan. ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcase, 2019, fiction
Business tycoon Richard Curtis, alongside engineer George Manville, develops a new and efficient process of demolition. Using a deserted island as a test subject, complications arise when a diver from a rival environmentalist organization attempting to stop the process is believed to be killed during the explosions. Her body eventually lands on Curtis’ boat, barely clinging to life. Believing that she will cause more trouble than she’s worth should she awake, Curtis orders her to be killed. Manv ...more
Thomas Burchfield
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Donald Westlake has been one of my literary lodestars for decades, so it bothers me to say I didn't much care for this one, the latest in a series of posthumous publications from Hard Case Crime. The result of a stab at writing a James Bond film, which fell through, the novel has little in common with Bond besides the villain's spectacular nefarious plot to destroy Hong Kong.

But while it lacks anything of Ian Fleming, there isn't much of the Donald Westlake of legend. It feels mechanical and uni
Ross McClintock
The backstory to this one was pretty wild. Apparently James Bond producers wanted Donald Westlake to adapt a Bond script to follow up the success of Goldeneye with. However, Westlake worked too slow for their liking, and they moved on. Westlake then made it an adventure novel with his own new characters. The only thing that Tomorrow Never Dies and Forever and a Death have in common is the villain's anxiety over the Hong Kong handover in 1997.

However, the bad guy, Richard Curtis's play is very Bo
Paperback Junky
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nearly a decade after his death, Donald E. Westlake, has a new book on the shelves. FOREVER AND A DEATH was released on June 13th by Hard Case Crime. The story was at one point almost BOND 18. Westlake was hired by EON to write the new James Bond film. Westlake’s idea was to have the story center around Britain returning Hong Kong to China in 1997, which at the time, was still two years away. The studio thought that it may be to explosive a topic since no one knew if returning Hong Kong to China ...more
Westlake Writes Bond -Sort Of

Forever and a Death was originally a treatment by Westlake for a new Bond movie in the mid 90's to follow Goldeneye. Although the movie was not made, Westlake turned the treatment into a novelization. Now finally Hard Case Crime has posthumously published Westlake's novel as one of its infamous lost novels.

Westlake put a lot of different elements into this story starting with a Bond-type mega-villain who runs a corporate empire and has hundreds of guys working to br
Samuel Tyler
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
A lot of time and effort goes into the average movie, but this is at least double in the case of Bond. Each one is part of a decade’s long institution and must excel. With this in mind there is a sea of discarded wannabe-Bond themes, wannabe-Bond stories and wannabe-Bond actors. For every successful ‘‘Garbage’’ Bond theme, there are numerous other indie bands that never made the cut. Donald E. Westlake was a successful thriller writer in his own right, but once he jumped aboard the good ship Bon ...more
Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson

Westlake's rejected Bond concept-turned-novel-with-a-bad-title is pretty decent. It reminded me of another Westlake novel, his true last, The Comedy is Finished, although this is less well-done than that is.

The plot mainly follows our villain, Richard Curtis, as he seeks revenge against Hong Kong banks and businessmen for screwing him over in a plot that is actually quite complex and cleverly planned as well as executed in the final act.

We also follow a few cardboard individuals who are try
Elite Group
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

Richard Curtis is a global businessman, having created both Curtis Construction Company and R C Structural. His wealth was made in Hong Kong, but when this once-British colony was handed back to the Chinese in 1997, Curtis, along with many others, was thrown out and moved to Singapore.

He has, however, never forgiven nor forgotten the ignominy of that time, and vowed to get even, and richer.

The book opens with Curtis and his chief engineer George Manville, testing an oscillating wav
Ronald Koltnow
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many manuscripts that have lain dormant have been resurrected, for good or ill, by publishers since the dawn of recorded time (hyperbole, I know). Billy Budd is an example of a good one. Add to that too short list Donald E. Westlake's return FOREVER AND A DEATH. Spoiler Alert: Billy Budd is the better book. FOREVER is a reworked treatment for a James Bond film that was never made. There are many Bond tropes in the novel but no overt Bond surrogate. It is simply a joy to revisit Don's wit and plo ...more
Vincent Lombardo
Forever and a Death is basically if Donald Westlake wrote a Bond film but with a little harder edge. All the archetypes of classic Bond films are there. The Hero, the Bond Girl, the Villian with the Master Plan, and the Muscle. The difference between this novel and the films that Westlake doesn't give only one character the lead, each character gets his or her due, fleshing out the motivations of all involved which makes it a more satisfying read. ...more
Frank Nemecek
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like so many great novels, there is a story behind Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake that rivals the suspense of the fictional prose itself.

It was with that as background that United Artists Studio in Hollywood commissioned Donald Westlake to write an original screenplay for an upcoming James Bond movie. What Westlake eventually produced for them was a thrilling tale of a businessman who seeks revenge against the entire island nation of Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, the studio was nervous abo
Matthew Jones
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a huge Donald Westlake and so I was most like going to read this regardless of the reviews and I expect other Westlake fans will and, frankly, should do. Westlake had many different styles and this falls into the standard Westlake fare, neither comic (i.e. Dortmunder) nor gritty (i.e. Parker). This book was published after his death and so is a surprise treat for the fans.
Of course, the book is quite well written and while not being the worst thing I’ve ever read by Westlake it also doesn’t
Oh Captain
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Westlake's known for writing without an outline and seeing where the story takes him, and FOREVER AND A DEATH feels like one of those exploratory drafts. In a thriller-writer of his calibre even a raw, unrefined, story is going to be entertaining and not without merit. But don't expect it to compare to his earlier efforts. FOREVER AND A DEATH lacks the lean, brutal focus of the Parker novels, for instance.

The loose connection to 007 is another comparison that might harm your enjoyment. I wouldn
C.J. Bunce
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published online at

Twenty years ago this weekend, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back to China by the United Kingdom as the last act of the old British Empire, without incident.

The anniversary of this transfer of power coincides with the release by Hard Case Crime of one of crime fiction readers’ most eagerly awaited events: the final novel of Donald E. Westlake. The result surpasses all expectations from one of America’s most celebrated authors: the adventure of Ia
Wayne Rhodes
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I miss Donald Westlake (and Dortmunder, et al). This book does not read like one of his and will not satisfy your Westlake craving.
Christian Cederberg
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Very run of the mill thriller. Nowhere near as good as the Parker og Dortmunder novels
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was so excited to see a new Donald Westlake book on the library shelves - he's a favorite author. The back story is very interesting as this book was published posthumously. Westlake was approached to write a new script for a James Bond movie to follow the release of GoldenEye. His final plot was related to political events about to take place in Hong Kong at the time (when it was turned over to China in 1977) so it was rejected and the movie never made. Later, Westlake repurposed the storylin ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: spy-thriller
Donald E. Westlake is responsible for penning a couple of my absolute favorite novels, so when I saw Hard Case Crime was set to publish one of his as-yet-unseen novels, which happened to be inspired by a treatment he once did for the James Bond franchise, I just had to check it out.

Now, if you're expecting this novel to be a James Bond type of story, with hi-tech gadgets and femme fatales and a lead character who kicks all kinds of ass without mussing his hair, then you can put those expectation
The Professor
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulp
“All those lights will soon switch off. Forever.” One for your activist, rather than your Bond obsessive, friends. This is a game of cat and mouse between a sociopathic businessman and some tenacious eco-warriors and despite its origins as a pitch to EON, its cover, title and a few narrative similarities this cleaves closer to Westlake’s other posthumously published novel “The Comedy Is Finished” than any of Fleming’s oeuvre. It’s nothing like a Bond novel in fact and coming to it with that expe ...more
Matthew Kresal
James Bond fans will likely know of the messy backstory behind Tomorrow Never Dies, the 1997 film that was Pierce Brosnan's second outing in the role. It was a film that went through a speedy production process, one that was quite fraught even in the early script stages. One of the writers whose work on what became the film was the late thriller writer Donald Westlake who took a crack at a Hong Kong-based plot before concerns regarding reactions to the city's handover from Britain to China led t ...more
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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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