Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Mysterious Press
Release Date: April 26, 2003
ISBN: 0892967870
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre: Fiction --- Espionage/Thriller
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes: Novelist/screenwriter Westlake's novels have been turned into movies such as "Payback" and "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"

Money For Nothing
By Donald E. Westlake 

     Westlake's latest thriller is an entertaining, thought-provoking example of the Faustian Bargain and the Innocent Led Astray. In the Faustian Bargain theme of literature, a hero such as (Goethe's Dr. Faust) enters into a deal with a nefarious person or being, to sell his soul in exchange for personal gain.

     Everyman hero Josh Redmont accepts checks of $1000 a month for seven years from a mysterious group called United States Agent and in return gets activated as a sleeper agent. The price is hefty: the welfare of his wife and child, the safety of innocent bystanders whom an international terrorist group casually involves in a plot to kill a foreign rival, and Josh's own morality. The threat of losing his life, as is customary in the Innocent Led Astray theme, hangs constantly over his head, from the moment Andrei Levrin approaches him with the chilling words "You are now active," until the final chapter.

      However, nothing is what it seems, as Westlake subverts the espionage thriller clichés. Josh's wife Eve is the antithesis of the hysterical woman sobbing, "Whatever shall we do?" She cleverly advises Josh to document his dealings with United States Agent in his laptop. Furthermore, the terrorism team's femme fatale, Tina Pausto (whose complexity and self-sufficiency remind one of another Tina from TV's "The Bachelor"), doesn't try to get Josh into bed at every opportunity. In fact, she plays on Josh's love for Eve and helps him by keeping Eve's knowledge of the plot a secret. The exception is the turncoat of the group and Josh's supposed ally, Ellois Nimrin, proves to be a man bent on saving his own skin. Another sleeper, theatrical Mitchell Robbie, located by Eve's cool, logical planning, proves to be the perfect partner for the milquetoast-with-a-spine Josh.

     Numerous plot twists abound and you cheer for Josh. You won't be spending Money For Nothing when you buy this book.

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