Another fairly funny, very busy Westlake caper--and, as usual of late, the telling is really more cinematic (quick-cutting...

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CASTLE IN THE AIR

Another fairly funny, very busy Westlake caper--and, as usual of late, the telling is really more cinematic (quick-cutting scenes) than novelistic. This time an international brigade of thieves--organized by master criminal Eustace Dench--sets out to heist every piece of a stone castle. You see, the corrupt presidente of Yerbadoro (So. America) is smuggling his ill-gotten millions out of the country by exporting a whole castle, in building-block pieces, to an exposition in Paris; the loot has been secreted in a few of the hollowed-out building blocks. So Dench & Co.--urged on by Yerbadoro guerrilla-bombshell Lida (""I am a fiery furnace for my people!"")--must steal and examine all pieces of the castle as they come into Paris by boxcar. This requires walkie-talkies, trucks, and four teams (English, German, French, Italian), all of which provides plenty of opportunity for polylingual bickering, furious foulups, and traffic slapstick. Eventually, however, it's the orderly Germans who find the special blocks, which they try to steal all for themselves, of course. So: boat-chases on the Seine and showdowns in tunnels, with the massive blocks appearing and disappearing in fine, whimsical Westlake style. Too many lead characters for a little novel (at least a dozen heisters) and too much purely physical action--but the comic dialogue is cannily timed (Lida's patriotic outbursts, the laments of a tired old Italian crook who's been sprung from prison against his will), and fans of caperaction at its cartooniest will find veteran Westlake in rousing good humor, if not exactly top form.

Pub Date: April 1, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Evans

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980