The Ax Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 1997
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Donald E. Westlake, justly named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, has written everything from comic capers (the Dortmunder series) to the darker adventures of ace criminal Parker during his long career. But he's never come up with anything scarier or more timely than this story about a downsized executive who decides to kill off the competition. Burke Devore could be your neighbor: a laid-off paper company manager watching his life and family fall apart as he tries desperately to get a job. The plan he finally comes up with involves murdering seven men very much like himself, and Westlake's most impressive achievement is to make the serial killings understandable if in no way justified. Selected titles from Westlake's vast list of books available in paperback include: Baby, Would I Lie?, The Fugitive Pigeon, Pity Him Afterwards, and Trust Me on This. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Burke Devore, 52, laid off from his middle-management position at a paper mill two years before, decides to eliminate competitors for a dream job at a mill in New York. He places dummy ads in trade journals to attract them, then stalks and kills them (at first with a pistol, later in a variety of disgusting ways?most in broad daylight, with no witnesses). That's about all there is to this strange novel from the author of the John Dortmunder mystery series, e.g., What's the Worst That Could Happen? (LJ 9/15/96). A potentially compelling look at the effects of long-term unemployment on the psyche of a man of limited prospects and intellect, the result is merely a step-by-step guide to executing innocent people, generally lacking in conflict, irony, and farcical elements. Devore's wife and children are sketchy, and humorous situations are underdeveloped. The point of all this is buried deep. Not recommended.?Laurel A. Wilson, Alexandrian P.L., Mount Vernon, Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I lived in Connecticut for 18 years; I've been laid off there several times, and I've been in Burke Devore's desperate straits...but I've never considered *murder*. I found it impossible to relate to or empathize with a character who clearly hadn't done everything he could to get a job before hitting upon his mad plan...he never considered going back into sales, he never really considered going into another line of work...he is like a lot of schlumps past and present who get so locked into one job that it's all they can conceive of doing.Read more ›
This is a book about one man, written entirely in the first person. A man who believes he can rely on no one but himself. In that vein all the other characers are merely shadows, or stick figures. They exist only through Burke's eyes. He IS the book.
Burke is a former production line manager in a paper mill who was laid off in the mid-nineties and has been unemployed for two years at the time of the novel (1997). He is at end of his rope -- his unemployment has run out and so, it seems, have his job prospects.
Burke decides to take matters into his own hands. He places an ad in a trade journal to evaluate the competition. Then, he decides to just get rid of them. He selects the job that he wants and then he kills off the competition AND the incumbent.
Burke goes on a killing spree through New York, Conn., and Mass. He kills the competition in broad daylight by the side of the road and in a crowded parking lot. He kills in a deserted mall parking lot and he even blows up a house.
The fact that Burke gets away with all these murders is completely implausable. The fact that the cops don't catch him and that he even manages to get rid of the evidence of his son's (unrelated) breaking and entering is unlikely. The fact that the search of the house that follows his son's crime raises no questions in the minds of the police is ridiculous. But it doesn't really matter. The fact that it is so unlikely that he'll get away with it all makes us identify with Burke all the more.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Westlake creates great suspense through one of the creepiest narratives ever written. Great structure and a justfied ending give this book some real punch. Read morePublished on May 16 2004 by Maxwell Mattord
I really enjoyed this book! It's unlike anything I've ever read before. I found it intruiging to hear the story as though I was in the mind of this killer. Read morePublished on May 12 2004
Burke Devore was a paper company manager for twenty-five years until the day he loses his job through corporate downsizing. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2003 by James N Simpson
The Ax is the kind of book that you could read in a single setting. It is not especially long(at just under 300 pages) and is written in an engaging first-person narrative. Read morePublished on May 23 2003 by Matthew King
I actually read this book. Now that I'm done, I really don't want to admit that, but the writing was too good to put it down, even though I grew to thoroughly hate the lead... Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2003 by Anna Klein
Having read hundreds of crime novels and thrillers over the years, I've become pretty jaded, yet this book blew me away. Read morePublished on Dec 6 2002 by David Group
The premise of this books seems so bizzare that one could never find it plausible. However placed in the context of the reality of life we see played out each day (flying planes... Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2002 by D. C Washington
The Ax is the story of Burke Devore, a middle manager, recently laid off from his job where he worked for over 20 years. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by Elizabeth Hendry
It's a lot easier to empathize with the protagonist of this story if you've had trouble finding work. Read morePublished on May 19 2002 by LanPB01