Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: THE COMEDY IS FINISHED by Donald Westlake

The Comedy is Finished (Hard Case Crime #105)Koo Davis is a comedian past his prime. Having lived a lavish life performing across the country and providing light relief to the American army during wartime, he now finds himself in the hands of a band of criminals who are using him as a pawn to free ten imprisoned activists. 

Set in 1977, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is a period piece that is very much a product of its time. The political landscape is at the forefront, and socialist viewpoints and present day issues are littered throughout the narrative to provide a true sense of time and place. Given Westlake wrote the book in the 1970's, you'd expect it to contain much of what was prevalent during that time in American history - and it does.    

The plot revolves around the kidnapping of Koo and the FBI's intervention in trying to get him back in one piece without having to free the prisoners or cater to the kidnappers other demands too willingly. 

The writing focuses on all key parties; Koo, his history and current predicament, the law enforcement agencies, and the kidnappers themselves. This allows for the reader to develop a well rounded appreciation of the situation and what the outcome means to the characters. My only gripe is that I wanted Liz, the naked and crazy torturer to play a bigger part. Westlake wrote a real winner in her and I feel she was somewhat underdeveloped - it's a minor gripe that doesn't impact the story.

THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is also not without a twist or two which leads to nice little revelations that provide further context to the story. Readers of Richard Stark's Parker series will see some common elements in the writing; namely the ability to craft a group of characters and make them all have a purpose in the book.   

Overall, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED is one of the more enjoyable Westalke books published by Hardcase Crime. I highly recommend it. 

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