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Smoke [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 1996
Due to a foiled burglary in a high-tech lab doing research for cigarette manufacturers, Freddie Noon, the thief, is now invisible. This condition has clear-cut advantages for a man in Freddie's profession, but now everybody wants a glimpse of Freddie. But Freddie doesn't dare show his face, his shadow, anything. Because Freddie Noon has gotten a taste of invisibility--and he can't quit now.

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From Publishers Weekly

Yet another variation on the invisible-man notion doesn't sound like a promising prospect, but if any author can wring some fresh fun out of it, Westlake's the one. He doesn't fail. Freddie Noon is a sharp, likable burglar whose mistake is to break into the offices of two doctors doing so-called research for the Tobacco Institute. Catching him, they make him a human guinea pig for one of their formulas, and?meet disappearing Freddie. Naturally, his life as a burglar gets much easier, but his girlfriend, Peg, isn't too comfortable with an invisible lover. In no time, Freddie is on the run: the Institute wants him for its nefarious purposes, the doctors want to study him further and a corrupt cop has his own reasons for pursuit. How Freddie and Peg run rings around the opposition, in New York and at an upstate hideaway, is the stuff of glorious Westlake comedy, in which Freddie's invisibility is merely one element in a caper full of hilarious characters, crackpot conversations and narrative sleight-of-hand.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Writing is well known as a lonely business whose practitioners are miserable, but Donald Westlake's comic crime novels provoke unbidden images of the author chuckling to himself at the word processor. His latest is full of chuckles for readers: when amiable professional thief Freddie Urban Noon breaks into a posh Manhattan brownstone that houses a research institute, he is captured by two lunatic MDs engaged in research for the tobacco industry. They take his medical history at gunpoint. They also give him a drug that renders him invisible. Freddie uses his invisibility to escape the doctors and to make big scores in diamond and fur heists, but he soon discovers that being invisible is straining his relationship with Peg, his charming significant other. Meanwhile, a hilariously malevolent tobacco tycoon hatches a plan to subvert the Human Genome Project for the good of the tobacco industry. He needs Freddie to implement his plot to "make people safe for tobacco" and employs a chillingly unhilarious rogue cop to find the invisible man. Smoke is deft entertainment, and this reviewer hopes the author is chuckling to himself as he produces the next one. Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Joys of Being Invisible Nov. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Freddie Urban Noone, contrary to his initials, is not having fun. During a normal business day, which for Freddie is robbery/burglary, he runs afoul of two young research doctors. They capture Freddie, and decide he will be their human volunteer for an experiment they are conducting for a tobacco research institute. The experiment inadvertently succeeds beyond any expectation, and Freddie is invisible-and escapes. Everyone: doctors, tobacco industry, and crooked cops want Freddie for all the wrong reasons.
The author has given careful thought to all aspects of being invisible and uses them well. In a nutshell, invisibility has few advantages and many woes for the hapless victim. Freddie must either be naked (including shoeless) or done up like a scarecrow with a fright mask, gloves, and every inch of him covered. He must modestly distance himself from the public for at least two hours after dining while his food travels down his intestinal track. Freddy fortunately has a sunny disposition and a great deal of patience. He also is blessed with a cheery, beautiful, slightly skewed girlfriend who reminded me of Elaine in Seinfeld without the neuroses.
The book has many humorous moments and some excellent insights, but it seems erratically paced. There are slow moments and repetitious action. I felt the author got a little weary of his own edifice. The ending was so abrupt; I actually looked for a few more pages. I don't know if it was Mr. Westlake's intent, but the last scene seems melancholy and wistful. The farce turned into a melodrama without a connecting passage. I was left vaguely unsatisfied.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Invisible Burglar Aug. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When Freddie Noon is caught in the act of burgling a research laboratory by a couple of the doctors who work there, he is persuaded to act as guinea pig to test the experimental drug they are working on, rather than get sent to prison. The drug was supposed to help combat skin cancer by eliminating skin pigment, unfortunately when given to Freddie it not only eliminated Freddie's skin, but also the rest of him, rendering him invisible. An invisible burglar, the possibilities are endless. But so are the problems. Freddie and his girlfriend, Peg, are chased by various people who all have the same idea, harnessing his invisibility for their own evil plans.
Thanks to Westlake's great ability with putting together great caper stories, the subplots are amusing and quite entertaining, but when you get to the end you get the feeling that the potential has not been reached. Although not an uproariously funny book, its tone is light and the humour is constant, at times subtle and usually quite clever.
If it's light reading you're after and prefer entertainment over finding a deeper meaning of life, I think you'll enjoy this book. A good example of the humour of Donald Westlake can be found in a surgeon general's warning on the inside front flap stating that "Reading Donald E. Westlake may lead to shortness of breath, prolonged chortles, outbreaks of hysterical laughter, and sudden, drop-dead surprises."
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2.0 out of 5 stars My Hopes Went Up In Smoke Sept. 26 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After all the hype about Donald E. Westlake, I decided to read one of his novels to get in on the fun. Maybe SMOKE is an exception to his usually good romps, but I was really bored throughout the novel. With the exception of a couple of characters, the rest of them were stereotyped, formless and boring. So much could have been done with this great plot. Oh, well.... I won't give up on Mr. Westlake. His Dortmunder novels get great press, so guess I'll give one of those a try. I WANT to like his writing. So many people do! Help me out, folks. Am I missing something?!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars great comic romp from westlake June 16 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A funny, original, comic romp about a thief who inadvertently becomes invisible, and his adventures, eluding assorted bad guys out to exploit him.
Im not sure why there are so many faintly negative reviews; Westlake's writing is sharp, and the humor is excellent. Great characters, too!
My only complaint: I wanted more of Freddie and Peg's adventures. Let's hope Mr. Westlake does a sequel!
PS If you dont like science fiction, dont be put off by the invisible man stuff; this is a comic crime novel!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great humor, fun characters - Westlake's a pro June 16 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Despite some of the only fair reviews quoted below, I feel this is an excelelnt novel. An invisible man (who's a thief), on the run from tobacco companies, various hoodlums, and the scientists who created him, makes for a fun romp.
Westlake's use of humor is excellent, and you really ENJOY reading about these characters.
My only complaint is that it was too short! I wanted more of Freddie and Peg's adventures.
Here's hoping for a sequel!
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3.0 out of 5 stars I never thought I'd put down a Westlake book May 5 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have loved every other book of his that I have read. Smoke, however, is a pretty apt analogy for the substance of this one. Sure there are a few chuckles, but frankly I didn't care enough about any of the people in this story to find out how it turns out. The tobacco industry machinations get pretty boring. Great potential, but a dud.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better. Feb. 21 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The idea and concept of this book is just fantastic.. "An Invisible Thief, running around New York"... What a Fantastic Idea!. I was expecting big laughs and a great plot. What I got was a very slow read with a gutless plot. The laughs where few, far between and not really funny. This book just did not go anywhere, it could have been done so much better and with much more punch. The main character was pretty good, and some of the supporting characters (especially Jersey Josh) carried the book along, but the underlying plot of the tobacco industry was poorly done. I was disappointed, but this book is for you if you want a simple, mind numbing read.
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