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Money for Nothing [Hardcover]

Donald E Westlake
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 27.88 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

April 15 2003 Westlake, Donald
Josh Redmont was 27 when the first check arrived, and he had absolutely no idea what it was for. Issued by 'United States Agent' through an unnamed bank with an indeterminate address in D.C., someone seemed to think Josh was owed $1,000. One month later, another check arrived, and then another, and another....and Josh cashed them all. Month after month, year after year, never a peep from the IRS, never an explanation for all this seemingly found money; the checks even followed Josh from one address to another as he moved through life. Now, after a full seven years, we find him on his way to meet the wife and kids for a summer vacation. Puzzled by the approach of a smiling stranger, Josh's stomach seizes with dread when the unwanted greeting begins with, 'I am from United States Agent.' Dumbstruck, Josh attempts to feign ignorance until he hears the words, 'You are now active.'

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From Amazon

Proving the old adage that there's no such thing as the windfall promised by the title, Westlake starts this funny divertissement with an intriguing premise: Mr. American Everyman, young, ambitious, decent, honorable husband and father, has been receiving a check for $1,000 once a month from an unknown benefactor for seven years. Just when Josh Redmont has finally stopped worrying about where the money comes from or what it means, a stranger with a foreign accent approaches him on the Fire Island ferry and clues him in. Therein hangs the tale of who's behind Josh good fortune and what kind of bill has come due for all those tax-free dollars. Unbeknownst to our hapless hero, he's been a "sleeper agent" whose paymaster has awakened him just in time to play a big role in a political assassination. How Josh gets out of a mess he had no idea he was in drives the lively narrative to its breathless conclusion. Westlake is the undisputed master of the caper genre--although Money for Nothing may not be as deviously convoluted or sidesplittingly comic as some of his earlier novels (The Ax, Put a Lid On It), it's well worth the reader's attention and appreciation. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific MWA Grand Master Westlake's latest novel has neither the engaging characters of his Dortmunder series nor the comic zing of his previous stand-alone, Put a Lid On It (2002), but it does offer an entertaining answer to the timeless debate over whether anything in life is ever truly free. Josh Redmont, a struggling New York office temp, receives a $1,000 check in the mail from United States Agent, a firm he's never heard of and, despite his best attempts, is unable to contact. He decides to deposit the check, and it clears. So begins the biggest mistake of his life, as checks arrive each month for the next seven years, seemingly a tax-free error in his favor. Then one day a man on the Fire Island ferry tells Redmont he's from U.S. Agent and states, "You are now active." By now a successful advertising executive with a wife and young son, Redmont finds his life turned upside-down as he's drawn into a terrorist plot to assassinate a visiting dignitary. His only hope is a disgruntled operative, Nimrin, who originally "recruited" him as a mole or sleeper agent without his knowledge. With time running out, Redmont must find two other moles recruited by Nimrin and turn the tables on the terrorists. Westlake creates a fascinating scenario, yet fails to fully develop Redmont and his fellow players. Some of the lesser characters are often more interesting than Redmont, who for all his charm and wit still comes across as a rather dull yuppie.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Humorous Spy Thriller May 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So one day, out of the blue you receive a cheque for $1000. Do you throw it in the bin or, after making a reasonable effort to find out who sent it and why, do you cash it and keep the money? Josh Redmont went with the second option and the cheques continued to arrive for seven years.
Since cashing that first cheque, Josh has finished university and found a job with an advertising agency. He is now married with a young son. He has also changed apartments a couple of time in those 7 years and the cheques kept arriving as regular as clockwork, finding him at his new address which was rather disturbing.
Then one day, while his wife and son are taking a short holiday without him, he is approached by a man who appears quite friendly right up until the moment he utters a phrase that almost stops his heart - "you are now active". The man uttering these words is Mr Levrin. He's under the impression that Josh is a deep undercover mole who has been waiting these past 7 years to be called into action. It's a belief that Josh instinctively didn't dare contradict.
And so, Josh Redmont is thrust into the spy world, a most unwilling participant. He is joined by another accidental mole by the name of Mitchell Robbie. Together they figure out that they've been activated to participate in an assassination attempt and then they figure out just how expendable they will be when the job is over. Not a pleasant thought, but one which motivates them into action.
Donald Westlake is an author who is able to put an amusing spin on any subject he chooses. Whether it's the wry humour that you acknowledge with the twitching of the corner of the mouth or uncontrollable bursts of laughter that leave you red-faced while witting on the train (*sigh*), both moments are provided in MONEY FOR NOTHING.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Money is the root of all evil! Dec 8 2003
Stick with Westlake if you love comedy, mysteries or novels noir. His "Parker" series itself is an unequaled classic.
Donald E. Westlake aka Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark et all, has written another good comic mystery. While MONEY FOR NOTHING is not as goofy or as humorous as his excellent "Dortmunder" series, it does tell a good story.
While a student in college Josh Redmond starts receiveing $1000 per month from an anonymous benefactor. He continues to receive these check for the next seven years. That's $84,000! Because he needs the money Josh makes a feeble attempt to find out where the checks come from, then he gives up and just accepts the checks as a sort of "gift from God." After his marrage Josh never tells his wife about the mysterious money. As one might expect, with out warning, the mysterious benefactor makes himself known and demands certain services for his money. What happens next threatens to destroy Josh, Josh's family, and his friends.
MONEY FOR NOTHING must be Westlake's five hundredth novel! (I really don't know how many novels, short stories, screen plays and articles he has written, but there are websites devoted to him.) I have been trying for years to read everything Westlake has written. Every time I think I have him covered I find another "Nome de Plume" for this prolific wordsmith. Several of his books have been made into big bucks movies, PAYBACK staring Mel Gibson and WHAT'STHE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN with Danny Devito are just two that I can name.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but Westlake's done better Sept. 2 2003
My favorite books by Westlake are his Richard Stark books featuring Parker. I'm more used to his hardboiled books than this genre, which is funny but with a good story. I enjoyed "Smoke" quite a bit, diliked "What's the Worst That Could Happen", thought "The Hot Rock" was okay and really really liked "Why Me?". That should give you a good idea of my Westlake standards for the rest of the review...
John Redmont started recieving checks for $1000, once a month, when he was 27. Seven years later, the man who's been sending these checks tells him that they are payment to be a sleeper agent, and that he's been activated. What would you do in this situation?
Personally, I never got Westlake's sense of humor too much but always enjoyed his writing none the less (Why Me is hilarious, though). Once again, I seldom got the jokes here, with the exception of the actor Robbie Mitchell. He was the best character in the novel, making Redmont seem like a foil at times.
All in all, not bad, but I'll take Parker any day. I'd say cast Matthew Perry for the movie...
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read June 19 2003
What would you do if you started receiving a monthly check from United States Agent for $1,000? What would you do if you tried to locate this company, but could not find out anything about it besides the name and a basic street address with no house number?
In "Money For Nothing," Josh Redmont decides to cash those checks. Every month. For seven years. And stops thinking much about it until the day a stranger shows up to let Josh know he has now been activated. When Josh seems confused, the stranger tells him that the original contact, Nimrin, has retired and that he, Levrin, will now be his contact.
Josh meets up with Nimrin later and he explains that he recruited Josh and others as sleeper agents nine years earlier. The monthly checks were to go to Nimrin and they did until he was forced into retirement. By accepting the checks, Josh implied to those in charge that he knew what was going on.
When Levrin activated him and he did not refuse, Josh became involved in a plot to assassinate a visiting leader. The only way out now is kill or be killed. They killed one of the others who cashed the checks, leaving one other person not yet activated. Josh decides to find this individual, off-off-off Broadway actor Mitch Robbie, in order to warn him of what is about to happen.
At first scared, and then later intrigued, Mitch sees beyond the kill or be killed argument. He hatches a plot to keep the original plan from taking place and forces Josh beyond his myopic view of the situation. He shows Josh that they have the chance to regain control of their lives and keep the assassination from happening. And once again Josh signs on despite himself.
Even though this is a plot-driven novel, the characters stand out as original and real.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Plot
Westlake took an unbelievable plot, but even then it might have worked had he not put two bumbling characters in the middle of it. Read more
Published on March 7 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Money for Nothing...Indeed.
What a disappointment. Westlake has some funny moments in this book, but I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. The premise is intriguing and the plot absurd. Read more
Published on March 7 2004 by Robert Wellen
5.0 out of 5 stars And Your Spies for Free
Josh receives a cheque for $1000 and has no idea why he received it. Month after month he receives another, and another. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by James N Simpson
3.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat tale of a regular guy in a real jam.
Ample and very entertaining cleverness is on display in the opening chapters of this book, as author Westlake constructs a truly imaginative yet believable scenario where an... Read more
Published on May 21 2003 by Joseph P. Menta, Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Westlake achieves the impossible while making it look easy
MONEY FOR NOTHING is Donald E. Westlake's latest novel. It is not his greatest or his best, though with a career consisting of so many milestones, that particular bar is a... Read more
Published on May 2 2003 by Bookreporter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not One of Westlake's Better Efforts
Donald E. Westlake's _Money For Nothing_, is kind of a strange book. It almost seems like Westlake isn't sure whether to turn this into a comic romp, like his Dortmunder books, or... Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by Craig Larson
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing, engrossing spy romp
For seven years, each month Josh Redmont has been cashing thousand dollar checks from an unknown benefactor. Money for nothing. Read more
Published on April 17 2003 by Bruce Trinque
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Worry, We'll Think of Something
Westlake is one of the great names in genre fiction (Actually, he's several of the great names in genre fiction, but that's another discussion, entirely), and a book by him is sure... Read more
Published on April 17 2003 by S. Berner
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful wild ride
Advertising executive Josh Redmont waits for the ferry to take him to Fire Island where he will join his wife and child on vacation. Read more
Published on April 11 2003 by Harriet Klausner
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