Fred Fitch is an easy mark—there’s no scam he wouldn’t fall for. And when his Uncle Matt dies and leaves him $300,000, he attracts the worst kind of attention—from people who’d love to separate him from that money. When it’s discovered Uncle Matt was murdered, Fred sets out on a hilarious romp through New York City to discover the killer—and keep himself alive.
Fred Fitch is a man who is both pure of heart and substance but utterly credulous. If there is a scam operating anywhere--his rooming house where the General needs a loan to print his revelation of the secret history of the government, the street where the Little Sisters of the Poor are raising funds for the homeless, or just about anywhere in between--Fred finds it or it finds Fred to the same uncertain end.
Fred even has his own contact, Reilly, on the Bunco Squad at Headquarters, who adds weekly to the enormous file. But Fred’s complicated life becomes overly complicated when a lawyer turns up on the scene to tell him that his late Uncle Matt has willed him $300,000. Fred has never before heard of Uncle Matt. Along with the inheritance comes the devoted Gertie Divine, Uncle Matt’s old friend who is all too willing to become Fred’s new friend, and a host of other mysterious characters who are willing to chum up with Fred in their bid for the $300,000, all of whom feel their claim to be more valid than Fred’s.
This otherwise comic caper turns desperate when the pursuers begin to make serious attempts on Fred’s life and Gertie becomes just a little too devoted. Westlake’s brilliant and original picaresque story was awarded the MWA Edgar as best novel of 1967.
Donald E. Westlake
Donald E. Westlake began his career at the Scott Meredith Literary Agency in the late 1950s where he published short stories in the Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen and other mystery magazines. His first novel, The Mercenaries, was published by Random House (1960) and was a finalist for the Edgar. His short story, Too Many Crooks, won the Edgar in 1992, and Westlake received the MWA Grandmaster Award in 1997.Westlake has worked in both television and film, winning an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for The Grifters in 1992, and many of his novels have been the basis of films, among them, The Hot Rock, The Bank Shot, Cops and Robbers, Why Me?, The Busy Body, and Point Blank.Point Blank, based upon the novel The Outfit was one of a series of hardboiled suspense novels written as "Richard Stark" and was remade as Payback starring Mel Gibson in 1998.