In the interests of clearing up some of my backlog, here are some quick hits on books that I don't have much to say about (there are a few things that I'm just skipping completely as not worth the electrons):
[note: split into five parts for MT import; use "next" if you're here via an old link]
Donald E. Westlake, Put A Lid On It. This is a caper novel that's not quite as comic as the Dortmunder books, but is still pretty light-hearted. It's a well-constructed, low-key take on a Watergate-style scenario: some political hacks want to steal something incriminating about the President, but have learned from past mistakes and tap a professional robber (using his pending criminal trial as carrot). Not his best work, but there are considerably worse ways to spend an afternoon. And for Dortmunder fans, there's an amusing commentary on planning:
Meehan had noticed over the years that crooks in stories and movies always make all kinds of plans, contingencies, maps, timetables, charts, maybe even scale models of things. He'd also noticed over the years that he himself and the guys he knew never did any of that, wouldn't have the first idea how to go about it. You work up a general idea of what you want and how you think you might want to go about it, and then when you get there you improvise, based on the situation, which is never exactly, precisely what you thought the situation was going to be.
That's the way it had always worked with him and the guys he'd met along the way, though he could see sometimes that those careful plans had a lot to be said for them. Like as though you were building a house, you'd certainly want that plan, but in fact they never were building a house. Robbing a house is a different kind of thing.
Also, people who make plans in their lives and people who make robberies are two pretty distinctive character types. People who make plans are likely to make plans that eliminate the necessity of having to make a robbery in the first place. So Meehan and company, not being planners, would just get a general idea, knock back a little bourbon right before the job to calm the nerves, and invent to suit once the job got under way.
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