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Smoke [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 27.00
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars The one that got away Dec 12 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Donald Westlake has never written a book, that I know of, about an honest person doing an honest days work. Freddy Noon, the protagonist of this story is unusual in that life is pretty good for him. He dosn't suffer the kind of perpetual disaster of the Sort visited on Dortmunder and Co, but when things go wrong for Fredy, they go very badly wrong. Freddy is a thief that one day makes the mistake of trying to rip off a research establishement. He is captured and turned into a scientific subject. The results of this experiment toss his life upside down and threaten to cost him his girlfriend and launch several threats on his life. This experiment also makes Freddy's career take off.
This book is typical Westlake, which is to say it is very well written, the story moves like an express train, you have a lot of fun reading it and there is no gain to doing so.
Westlake does not have a menagerie of freeks, despite what happens to Freddy he is not a freek, nor does he populate his universe with cardboard cutouts. Freddy is as real and vital. The people in Westlake's books interact in so honest a fashion it startles one to realize what has happend to your sympathies.
This book can also be viewed as an allagory of what life is like in the modern world. All there are is compromises, and you have to give up a great deal for succuess, which might cost you more than the gain is worth. This loss is permenant.
Even the Freddy's name is alegorical. His life is very much the "Urban Noon"
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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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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars My Hopes Went Up In Smoke
After all the hype about Donald E. Westlake, I decided to read one of his novels to get in on the fun. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2000 by Ronald Flackus
4.0 out of 5 stars great comic romp from westlake
A funny, original, comic romp about a thief who inadvertently becomes invisible, and his adventures, eluding assorted bad guys out to exploit him. Read more
Published on June 16 2000 by johnglor94
4.0 out of 5 stars Great humor, fun characters - Westlake's a pro
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... Read more
Published on June 16 2000 by johnvolc
3.0 out of 5 stars I never thought I'd put down a Westlake book
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. Read more
Published on May 5 2000 by V. Schmidt
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book I've ever read that made me laugh out loud.
"Smoke" is about a criminal who is invisible. Does that mean that he can get away with ANY crime? No way. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 1999
Published on Feb. 8 1999 by
1.0 out of 5 stars Old Idea - boring redone
Did you ever see the film "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" with Chevy Chase? Unfortunately the film is from 1992 and the book (at least mine) dates from 1995. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Donald Westlake is among two authors that can make me laugh out loud. the other being lawerence block. This book however un-original some people think it is is awesome. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Westlake Does It Again!
A hilarious romp reminiscent of a Dortmunder caper. Westlake once again leads us through a plot that twists and turns to a surprise ending that only Westlake can conjure. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 1998
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