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Forever and a Death Hardcover – June 13, 2017
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Shamelessly escapist fun" - Seattle Times
"The orange wetsuit, that gun pose, the comma of hair above the eye - stop twisting my arm, Hard Case!” - Birth. Movies. Death
"unexpected treat...a posthumous bonus fans will cherish" - Kirkus Reviews
“There are real Bond villains in this ever-changing world in which we live in. But there is no James Bond. It’s up to us to stop them. Or join them. Or be destroyed and/or ruled by them. There are no other choices." -The Westlake Review
"great fun to read...and speculate on what a Westlake-written Bond movie might have been like. A newly discovered novel by one of the true grand masters of the genre is always a cause for celebration." - Booklist
“great stuff. Hugely recommended” Atomic Junk Shop
"This is not the first time Hard Case Crime has published a neglected or forgotten work by Westlake. So we are again in their debt for gracing us with another reason to both mourn the loss and celebrate this incredibly talented author – and spend another few hours in his creative company." - Bookgasm
“Hard Case Crime has another winner.” Noir Journal
“my favorite posthumous Westlake so far and a fun read” Dangerous Dan’s Book blog
“it’s a bitch that we didn’t get a Donald Westlake James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan, but for me, we got something even better…a brand-new Westlake novel.” Criminal Element
"An excellent thriller that, paired with the afterword, offers a revealing look at the inner workings of the Bond machine and there are certainly plenty of us who care about that. It’s also a must-read for Westlake fans." - Military.com
"FOREVER AND A DEATH is worthy of an audience beyond Westlake completists. Even if Westlake is treading in somewhat unfamiliar waters here, his trademark setups are present, and frequently so." - BookReporter
“Highly recommended and one of the best reads of 2017” Borg.com
“a fantastic take on what an action thriller that dares to think outside of the box can be” The Crime Review
About the Author
Donald E. Westlake is widely regarded as one of the great crime writers of the 20th Century. He won three Edgar Awards and was named a Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America. Many of his books have been made into movies; Westlake also wrote the screenplay for "The Grifters," for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
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Years later, Charles Ardai contacted Jeff Kleeman (who wrote a very informative afterword for Forever and a Death, fleshing out the background for DW’s story) and informed him that DW had taken some of the core ideas of his Bond film treatment and crafted an unpublished novel, which Hard Case Crime would now publish for the first time. The circle was then complete, but Forever and a Death stands apart from the Bond series. While it has some Bond elements (a grand villain, an international plot, multiple exotic sites, an attractive female love interest) Bond does not appear in it. Nor does the British secret service.
Richard Curtis is an international contractor, once based in Hong Kong, but now operating out of Singapore. Eased out and mistreated by the Chinese, Curtis plans some major-league payback. The novel begins with him reworking a once-Japanese island near Australia. The island rests on coral and Curtis wants to remake what was once a military installation into a resort site. Using controlled and carefully-positioned charges he creates a pulse which liquefies the earth that constitutes the island so that it can be remodeled to fit his new needs. You can see where this is going . . . as Curtis’ thoughts remain on Hong Kong as an ultimate target.
Curtis is being dogged by an environmental group which includes a young female diver who gets in the way of his earlier island project, nearly drowning in the process. She is helped by Curtis’ chief engineer, who discovers that his work is probably going to be used for very nefarious purposes. The final act occurs in Hong Kong as the plotlines (and a small cast of international characters) converge there.
The book is quite long, much longer, e.g., than a James Bond novel. The plot is tight and each action, thought and reflection is produced in fulsome detail. It is not fair to say that the book ‘lacks steady advance’, but it is true, I think, that it is characterized by ‘slow but steady advance’. For some that will be a virtue; for some it will not. This is largely a matter of taste.
The international settings are nicely realized, particularly Brisbane, Singapore and, of course, Hong Kong. George Manville, the engineer who helps the young diver, Kim Baldur, disappears for much of the story, so that we end up with more of an ensemble cast than a central heroic protagonist.
Kleeman’s afterword will be interesting to anyone interested in the Bond franchise as well as those who are fascinated by interactions between writers and Hollywood. For Donald Westlake, e.g., the latter is difficult, since Westlake characteristically began his novels with a premise rather than an outline. For example, what if a getaway driver at a bank heist had trouble finding a place to park? He then wrote, figuring that he could resolve the plot challenges as he worked through them. Hollywood treatments, on the other hand, generally require an ability to outline. I personally find the creative process for genre writers a fascinating subject. For the full effect with regard to Forever and a Death, readers might want to begin with Kleeman’s afterword and then see what kind of lemonade Don Westlake made of his earlier discussions with MGM/UA.
Thanks again to Charles Ardai for recovering wonderful pieces of our cultural heritage.