Customer Reviews


6 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A COMIC CAPER WITH AN ADDED WHO DONE IT FOR MYSTERY FANS
Barry and Lola Lee have reached the end of solvency and their only out seems to be borrowing against their life insurance policies. The only problem is the fact that in order to save money originally they bought "term" insurance and now they're actually worth more dead than alive. Light bulb flash! What if they faked an accidental (double indemnity) death for Barry? And...
Published on May 28, 2002 by Robert Edler

versus
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Zany adventure--but we need more character motivation
When their financial problems become too severe, Barry Lee and his wife Lola come up with the perfect answer. They'll go to Guerrera, Lola's native country, Barry will die, and Lola will get the insurance money. Then Barry, resurrected as Lola's long-dead brother, will rejoin her in New York. I simple case of insurance fraud. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns...
Published on April 14, 2002 by booksforabuck


Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A COMIC CAPER WITH AN ADDED WHO DONE IT FOR MYSTERY FANS, May 28, 2002
By 
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Hardcover)
Barry and Lola Lee have reached the end of solvency and their only out seems to be borrowing against their life insurance policies. The only problem is the fact that in order to save money originally they bought "term" insurance and now they're actually worth more dead than alive. Light bulb flash! What if they faked an accidental (double indemnity) death for Barry? And where would be a better place to fake it than Lola's native country Guerrara where official record keeping is less than minimal? Sounds simple, right?
No way! You know how a classic caper novel is going to go when first the characters practice to deceive. And it's even worse in Guerrara, where Barry Lee who has to disguise himself as a native can barely understand (much less speak) Spanish. The simple soon becomes a bit complicated, then a lot complicated and finally totally out-of-hand as bothers, sisters, cousins, police, insurance investigators, and Madonna the pig all try to get a piece of the action, which naturally means Barry. Besides, how far is $600,000 going to go?
In order to work, a caper has to be fun, well plotted and believable. And this is the case with STIFF. Each problem that arises is solved and replaced with still another problem. Do Barry and Lola get away with their fraud and/or the money? Does Barry get out of the country, or does he get eaten by the pig? For the answer to these and many more twists and turns, you'll have to read the book for yourself. And I guarantee you'll enjoy it, too!
This caper also gives you a bonus mystery if you're so inclined. The author of the book is listed as JUDSON JACK CARMICHAEL. (Why does that name sound so familiar?) However, this is just a pseudonym for a best selling author who lives in New York. (Which is only fitting since in the book Barry Lee goes through as many identities as the Guerraran phone book.) So if you're into this type of writing, you can also try to figure out the true identity of the author. Based on his past writings I believe I was able to do this. But it wouldn't be fair to tell, so read the book for yourself and let me know if you know who done it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Farce, March 19, 2004
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Otto Penzler Books) (Paperback)
Donald Westlake is one of the most consistent authors I've come across when it comes to writing books featuring outlandish schemes, diabolical scams and an ever-present bent for a humorous phrase. He remains the king of the caper and THE SCARED STIFF confirms his position.
Now don't let the name Judson Jack Carmichael on the cover fool you because Westlake is also the king of the pseudonym. But the style is unmistakable and is as entertaining as ever.
Barry and Lola Lee lived their whole married lives one step ahead of the bill collectors, but now their financial shortfalls are threatening to overtake them. In desperation Barry tries to cash in their life insurance policy only to find out that it wasn't that kind of a policy, the only access to any money was if one of them died - double if they died in an accident.
So a master plan is hatched - Barry has to die.
The most important aspect of the scam is the fact that Lola comes from the South American country of Guerrera. The documentation that accounts for death in this country may be obtained a little easier than it might in the US, so they decide that this is where the accident should take place.
And so they go to Guerrera where, with the help of Lola's enormously extensive family, they set about arranging the scam. Not only do they have to arrange Barry's death to look like an accident, they have to organise a body to take his place, a new identity for him and they have to make it all convincing enough for the police and insurance investigators to accept.
Everything goes according to plan. It looks like they have pulled off the perfect fake death and now all Lola has to do is pick up the insurance check. But as readers of Westlake books would already know, it's at the moment when absolutely nothing can go wrong that everything falls apart.
Barry finds himself lying low in a country whose language he doesn't speak. He is forced to assume identity after identity, making up a series of cover stories as his cover is blown by a string of unlucky, and unlikely, events. Each new cover story becomes just a little more implausible and his grip on anonymity a little more tenuous.
The pace of the story is frenetic thanks to the farcical nature of the scam and the "anything that can go wrong will go wrong" aspect. The plot continually changes thanks to Barry's need to escape detection and his ability to devise new plans and disguises.
This is vintage farce from Donald Westlake. It's fast and it's fun and at times is very clever, particularly in the details of the caper. Of course, it comes complete with some very unlikely coincidences, running into the last person you would want to meet and so forth, but this just adds to the fun. Read this for it's amusement value and ride the caper with Barry.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How not to cheat your insurance company !, March 14, 2002
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Hardcover)
Open the book and relax. The twists and turns take you in unexpected directions. Very funny book & excellent read !
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Westlake Strikes Again, March 1, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Hardcover)
Fans of Donald E. Westlake are sure to enjoy this classic caper published under a one-time pseudonym.

If you enjoyed Dancing Aztecs and Castle in the Air, you will thrill to this romp through the world of Westlake. Engaging and funny throughout.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly non-stop comedic mystery., July 9, 2002
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Hardcover)
In debt as far as they can go with no way out, Barry Lee and his wife, Lola, decide to stage the ultimate money-making scheme--Barry's death. Lola is from Guerrera where record-keeping is sloppy at best. With the help of Lola's family, friends (some not so friendly) and pseudo-strangers, Barry's death is staged. However, word gets out, and some of Lola's not-so-smart cousins decide that if Lola is going to received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Barry's death, then he really should be dead. So while Lola is back in the states trying to settle the insurance claim, Barry is still in Guerrera trying to outwit and outrun Lola's cousins. This fast-paced, suspenseful, and sometimes comical farce will keep you wondering how they are going to get out of this one and will keep you turning pages until the very end.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Zany adventure--but we need more character motivation, April 14, 2002
This review is from: The Scared Stiff (Hardcover)
When their financial problems become too severe, Barry Lee and his wife Lola come up with the perfect answer. They'll go to Guerrera, Lola's native country, Barry will die, and Lola will get the insurance money. Then Barry, resurrected as Lola's long-dead brother, will rejoin her in New York. I simple case of insurance fraud. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, just about everything could go wrong. The man who is supposed to watch over Barry turns out to be a gangster, Lola's cousins figure that they can get more of the money if Barry really does turn out dead, Barry finds himself continually tempted by beautiful women, and both the Guerreran police and the American insurance fraud investigators have their suspicions. For Barry to stay alive, let alone get the money, he has to stay on the run.
Author Judson Jack Carmichael begins with a cute premise--and delivers a steady diet of frantic action. Still, THE SCARED STIFF falls a bit short of what it could have been. Perhaps if we had seen the problems that drove Barry and Lola to this extreme, it would have been possible to be more sympathetic. As it was, it was hard to get emotionally involved in someone who was, after all, trying to commit fraud.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Scared Stiff (Otto Penzler Books)
The Scared Stiff (Otto Penzler Books) by Judson Jack Carmichael (Paperback - July 2003)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.