Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lemons never Lie (Donald E. Westlake aka Richard Stark, 1971)

I'm not too keen on crime books in which heroes are ordinary people somehow sucked into the sinister underworld. True, occasionally this formula can function (can't remember a good example from the top of my head though) but Lemons Never Lie is definitely not one of those instances.

Alan Grofield is a stage actor that runs summer theater (whatever the hell that is?) in some rural godforsaken place. This requires money and he finances this whole operation by occasional theft. Because, you see, he's also a professional thief.

Could decent novel would ever be possible to come out of such a moronic premise? I don't think so, not even when written by one of the genre's greatest craftsmen.
After initial setup, it turns into cat-and-mouse kind of chase around USA involving Grofield and some insane psychopathic asshole Myers. It is written very simplistic and fast paced with a decent body count piling, so it is pretty easy read. Quite fluent too although on few occasions the whole thing becomes simply laughable. I think I shall remember it by one of the most original torturing scenes - our main man Grofield strips down some poor schmuck and starts opening the front door. Since outside is so cold, guy gets terrified of catching pneumonia and immediately spills everything out to his ruthless torturer. I kid you not, read it yourself (page 193) if you don't believe me.

Not good, not bad. Something you take on a plane and forget about when you arrive to your destination and pick up the next book.


A member of a increasingly disappearing breed of professionals, Alan Grofield was an actor who limited himself to live performances before live audiences.

Las Vegas, Mead Grove, Indiana, St. Louis, Monequois, New York

Body count: 6

None really. There's his understanding and artistic (also actress) wife but she hardly qualifies for a dame.

Yes, two of them. And since our hero is hardly some bad ass criminal (although he is professional) we can forgive him for the both of them. None is described particularly vivid - In the first one "Grofield turned around and faced the wall. He knew what was coming, and hunched his head down into his neck, trying to make his skull soft and resilient. It didn't do any good. The lights went out very painfully." In the second one he was simply hit in the face by two-by-four and was subsequently out for mere 5 minutes.

One of those intriguing and funny wtf titles but it has really simple explanation. Right at the beginning Grofield scores jackpot (three lemons) on the slot machine and gets a little annoyed about it because he feels that he had used all his luck.

Pretty cool, although girl should be more in front I think. But very accurate, it depicts the corpse #3 and the fact that Grofield burns down the house in order to destroy all the evidence (I think) since he's such a professional. Credited to a guy R.B. Farrell but google search on him didn't come back with nothing useful.

Cool lines:  
Tired and aging mixed-race jazz quintet tried to figure out how to make transition to rock. So far, all they were sure of was the volume level; you couldn't hear yourself think. Looking at the conversations going on up and down the bar, and in the booths behind him, Grofield decided the place must be full of lip readers.

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