Smoke Mass Market Paperback – Jul 21 2009
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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.
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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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."
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"
Most recent customer reviews
After all the hype about Donald E. Westlake, I decided to read one of his novels to get in on the fun. Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2000 by Ronald Flackus
A funny, original, comic romp about a thief who inadvertently becomes invisible, and his adventures, eluding assorted bad guys out to exploit him. Read morePublished on June 16 2000 by johnglor94
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 morePublished on June 16 2000 by johnvolc
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 morePublished on May 5 2000 by V. Schmidt
"Smoke" is about a criminal who is invisible. Does that mean that he can get away with ANY crime? No way. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 1999
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 morePublished on Jan. 5 1999
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 morePublished on Nov. 7 1998