Money for Nothing by Donald E. Westlake
Proving the old adage that there's no such thing as the windfall promised by the title, Westlake starts this funny divertissement with an intriguing premise: Mr. American Everyman, young, ambitious, decent, honorable husband and father, has been receiving a check for $1,000 once a month from an unknown benefactor for seven years. Just when Josh Redmont has finally stopped worrying about where the money comes from or what it means, a stranger with a foreign accent approaches him on the Fire Island ferry and clues him in. Therein hangs the tale of who's behind Josh good fortune and what kind of bill has come due for all those tax-free dollars. Unbeknownst to our hapless hero, he's been a "sleeper agent" whose paymaster has awakened him just in time to play a big role in a political assassination. How Josh gets out of a mess he had no idea he was in drives the lively narrative to its breathless conclusion. Westlake is the undisputed master of the caper genre--although Money for Nothing may not be as deviously convoluted or sidesplittingly comic as some of his earlier novels (The Ax, Put a Lid On It), it's well worth the reader's attention and appreciation. --Jane Adams
One of America's best-loved authors returns with a delightfully chilling new stand-alone in the vein of his bestsellers The Ax and The Hook. Josh Redmont was 27 when the first check arrived, and he had absolutely no idea what it was for. Issued by "United States Agent" through an unnamed bank with an indeterminate address in D.C., someone seemed to think Josh was owed $1,000. One month later, another check arrived, and then another, and another...and Josh cashed them all. Month after month, year after year, never a peep from the IRS, never an explanation for all this seemingly found money; the checks even followed Josh from one address to another as he moved through life. Now, after a full seven years, we find him on his way to meet the wife and kids for a summer vacation. Puzzled by the approach of a smiling stranger, Josh's stomach seizes with dread when the unwanted greeting begins with, "I am from United States Agent." Dumbstruck, Josh attempts to feign ignorance until he hears the words, "You are now active."
And Your Spies for Free, October 22, 2003
Mr James N Simpson
from Gold Coast, QLD Australia
Josh receives a cheque for $1000 and has no idea why he received it. Month after month he receives another, and another. He tries to work out who is paying the money but no one answers the phone number on the cheque and the address is incomplete. After seven years Josh has become used to the money. He now has a family but he also has a man waiting for him at the bordering area to his daily ferry. It seems Josh has been paid to be a sleeper agent for the Russians without even knowing it and they have some evil plans for him. This is a pretty good novel although it does move a bit slow at times. It is an enjoyable read though. I read the Ax also by Westlake before this which was brilliant so it did put my expectations up to masterpiece standards for this book which it did not quite achieve. Still a good book though. Definitely read the Ax if you are looking for a great Westlake novel.