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There's a Few Good Stories, There's No Westlake Masterpieces Though and the Other Stories Are a Bit Average!Jan. 5 2009
James N Simpson
- Published on Amazon.com
A Good Story and Other Stories is an anthology collection of some of Westlake's stories first published mostly in the 60s but with two from the 80s and five from the 90s. None are first published in here so odds are you've probably read some of these before, even if you don't recognise the titles. This collection was published in 1999.
The stories in this collection cover a range of genres and styles reflecting the way his full length novels have over Westlake's career. You've got crime, you've got science fiction, you've got the just plain weird, what you don't have is comic capers if that's what you were after. Anyway the stories inside are -
Sinner of Saint - 1958, about a con artist who plans on a rich lady's donation to build a hospital by immitating a priest.
One on a Desert Island - 1960, Interesting story about a loser mother's boy guy who decided after her death to abandon his boring life and sail to China even though he'd never been in a boat before. The Coast Guard stops him a few times (although why is never really explained) but eventually he sneeks past them and out to sea where he realises he doesn't know what he is doing. He ends up shipwrecked on a deserted island in the Pacific where his imagination invents a female companion. However she begins to nag him so he starts to think about murder.
You Put on Some Weight - 1960 Not a bad story about a con who gets out of prison only to discover the crime world he'd hoped to walk back into no longer exists. Everyone he meets has left that world behind but tells him you look good, you've put on some weight. What is he to do, the answer will come in the middle of the night.
The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution - 1960, is a very interesting story about a man whose wife doesn't work but spends more money than he earns. When ever he mentions anything she says its his fault for not making more money. He wants the marriage over but knows she'll take everything and leave him in debt and paying alimoney. He comes up with the perfect murder but never realised how many door to door salesman and telimarketers communicate with his wife each day when he's not home.
Good Night, Good Night - 1960 has appeared in numerous anthologies, you've probably read it before. It's about a guy who wakes up in front of a TV with the show he is on playing and has to work out before he dies which one of his costars killed him.
The Risk Profession - 1961, is a murder mystery set in space where an insurance investigator has to go to a space version of a gold mining claim and work out if the claimant on a policy murdered his insured mining partner.
Never Shake A Family Tree - 1961, is a very average story about a woman who places an ad for information about her family tree
The Mother of Invention is Worth a Pound of Cure - 1965, a male paid mistress is told by his married older lady client lover that she no longer needs him but with a deadly twist to the firing.
Sniff - 1967, a very predictable story about a guy with a blackmail scheme that is on hold by the fact that he posts the documents addressed to himself, with a return address of a newspaper on the back. He collects them every monday, puts them in another envelope and posts them to himself again. The package must always be picked up from the post office within five days by only him or it will be sent back to the sender. One day he gets a sniffle.
Devilishly - 1966, another clever but predictable story about two thieves who dress up for a Halloween Party with the intent of robbing their relatives since no one will know their identity.
The Sweetest Man in the World - 1984, A very good story about an insurance investigator who goes to visit his recently deceased client's secretary who the client had recently transferred the payout of the policy from his wife to her. He assumes she will be some young hot thing who had convinced him to sign it over to her but when she opens the door is a hideous old lady so that theory goes out the window. A funny story with a nice twist at the end.
A Good Story - 1984, the title overrates itself. About a guy who smuggles drugs inside of animals who gets his comeuppance.
Breathe Deep - 1985, is a very predictable story about a man who gets severely beaten up and thrown out of a casino simply for being homeless who starts hassling a dealer who is about to go on his break.
Love in the Lean Years - 1992, is about a guy who falls for an older rich female widow client. He is happy not to sponge of her and even wants to help her out by doing her books for her. What he discovers changes everything.
Last-Minute Shopping - 1993, has a career criminal receiving an unwanted knock at his door on Christmas Eve from a policeman who has been his arch nemises. The policeman wants to get his girlfriend a gift but all the shops are closed.
The Burglar and the Whatsit - 1996, is the predictable story of a burglar who dresses up as a variety of things but since it is the season has chosen to be Santa. A drunk man keeps yelling out Hey, Sanity Clause so he is forced to talk to him before all the neighbours discover he is there. The man is an inventor and wants Santa to tell him what his invention is since he can't remember as the description was on his computer that was stolen.
Skeeks - 1995, is an average story about a reporter sent to cover the funeral of a canine TV star.
Take It Away - 1997, is the tale of an undercover cop who is assigned to get the meals of those on stakeout. Each time he goes to the fast food joint he meets an annoying chatty man who will say something that makes the cop think he knows about the confidential sting, before he clarifies what he is saying with another sentence that puts the cop at ease.