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The Ax

The Ax - Donald E Westlake This book is about a dark time in American history. A large financial bubble had burst, corporations were laying off people in droves in a valiant effort to protect the lavish lifestyles of corporate leaders, jobs were hard to come by for the recently displaced and, as unemployment benefits started to run out, these displaced workers felt increasing, massive pressure to find a new job soon, or risk losing everything they have worked for their whole lives. So nothing like today *cough.

Anyway, it is in these difficult times that our "hero" Burke Devore finds himself at the end of his string and without prospects. He finds a job he would be perfect for, the only problem being the guy who currently holds that job. Devore decides to do the only thing that makes any sense. He decides to kill him. To ensure he gets the job, he decides to also kill other recently displaced workers who would be rivals for this job. Hijinks ensue.

This is a very good Westlake book. Not nearly as funny as much of his fiction and much darker. there are still some funny parts but the overall theme is very much of despair and hopelessness. Devore's transformation from his first, bumbling, efforts is fascinating to read and very well done. Somehow Devore remains an appealing and sympathetic figure despite his horrific acts. He is a well drawn character and frighteningly believable.

I would very much recommend this book in general. Westlake fans who have not read it yet should do so next.