Thursday, August 4, 2016

Heard: "361" by Donald E. Westlake

Heard: 361 by Donald E. Westlake, 2005 (Hard Case Crime edition), 978-0857683038.

Hard Case Crime reprint. Back in May I read Deadly Honeymoon by Lawrence Block. Block used a story idea by Westlake. This feels very similar. Two people with no criminal background are out for revenge.

Ray Kelly is back from three years in Germany with the Air Force. He is freshly mustered out and meeting his father in New York City before they head northwest their home in Binghampton. Ray's dad is reluctant to hit the town but they have a grand time. The next Ray's attorney father is driving home in the Chrysler when another car pulls alongside and the passenger starts shooting. Ray's father falls dead over into Ray's lap right before their car hits a roadside piling.

A month later Ray wakes up in the hospital less one eye and with a badly injured ankle. Ray's father is dead and Ray's older brother Red Head breaks the news that Red Head's wife is also dead - she was walking on the sidewalk when a car jumped the curb, ran her over, and the car kept going.  Ray knows something is up. Ray wants revenge: for his eye, for his dead father, for the sister-in-law he never met, for the half-orphaned niece he never met.

Ray and Red Head pull some money from the bank and head back to NYC. The start searching and hunting and discover their father was a mob lawyer in the '30s. He left NYC for Binghampton in 1940. 1940 was also the time Ray Cap was convicted of tax fraud and sent away. Well, Cap is due for release and Ray and Red figure Cap is behind things.

Anyhoo. Ray narrates the whole tale and it is a humdinger. Plenty of angst and anger and confusion. Ray wonders what he is doing, what he should be doing after his life was destroyed. Ray has more drive than his older brother Red Head and Ray takes the leadership role.

Everything lives happily ever after - excluding many several dead people, a con game, a mob war, an a alcoholic breakdown.

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