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Put A Lid On It    by Donald E. Westlake order for
Put A Lid On It
by Donald E. Westlake
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Donald E. Westlake is, of course, the author of the highly popular John Dortmunder series, as well as many other comic crime novels, and quite a few serious ones as well; many of them have been made into movies. Dortmunder and his accomplices are particular favourites of mine, but I will happily read anything this accomplished author writes. This latest novel hurls a long time and incorrigible thief, Francis Xavier Meehan, into the political arena to pit his wits against the best (or should that be the worst?) that Washington D.C. has to offer.

Meehan, as he prefers his friends to call him, has had the bad luck to hi-jack a truck which, as well as the computer chips which he expected, held registered mail which he didn't. As a result he is now languishing in the Manhattan Correctional Center awaiting trial on federal charges for the first time, and none of his ten thousand rules are likely to be of much help. Enter the first politico, who proposes to get him out of jail in return for a small professional favour.

The favour is to steal certain incriminating evidence against the President of the United States, who is running for reelection that year. The documents are being held by an opponent, who intends to reveal the unsavoury details as an October Surprise just before the election. Meehan is reluctant to work with incompetent amateurs, which is his view of all politicos and their hangers-on, but he discovers that the holder of the documents also holds a few other things which might be worth some effort to retrieve.

Unfortunately, politicos can't help talking, and before long, other interests get involved, and Meehan has to use all his considerable ingenuity to fend off the spies and thugs and carry out his task - to save the President and make a nice profit. Put A Lid On It has well drawn characters, funny situations, action and suspense throughout; well up to the author's usual, exacting standard.

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