Lemons Never Lie

Lemons Never Lie: An Alan Grofield Novel, Stark

Lemons Never Lie is a terrific crime tale originally written under the Richard Stark name. Don’t pick this up if you have anything pressing you need to do.

Grofield is not your usual criminal. That’s part of what makes Westlake’s fiction so interesting. Grofield’s passion is summer stock theater. He and his wife, Mary, have got an old barn that’s been converted to a theater, but are so hard up for cash that they rent out their residential properties most of the year and sleep on the stage sets. In the summer, they kick their tenants out and house their actors. But, its how Grofield pays for his artistic fantasies that is interesting. Sometimes he drives into Kentucky and passes bad paper, but he doesn’t enjoy doing that because he feels its an inappropriate use of his acting schools and cheapens it for him.
Grofield does “jobs” to earn his bread. He flies to Las Vegas to meet with four or five others and hear Myers’ plans for a job. Myers is not your usual crook, though, as he basically comes equipped with photos and powerpoint displays. The job is odd and Grofield is not comfortable with it. Myers has found one place in the country where a payroll robbery will still work, one place where the workers are still paid in cash every week, not by paycheck. It’s an old brewery up in Maine near the Canadian border. Myers has cased this little town and figures he will set some fires and then enter the plant with a fire engine and make off with the payroll, escaping with the loot across the border. The plan never takes off when some of the group walks out, gambling at the tables and winning big on their way out of the casino. There is a falling out and Myers has made some permanent enemies as he skedaddles out of town.

Grofield returns home to his small Indiana town and soon hears of another job, although things are a little dicey with his real “work” making an appearance in his safe hometown and Grofield doesn’t like to bring his work home. It’s a professional job in St Louis, a market robbery, and the story takes the reader step by step through the job.

Of course, the fight with Myers foreshadows what comes later with an ultimate showdown.
It is a well-told story that can be finished in just a few hours. There is a lot of conversation that moves the plot along (sort of in the Elmore Leonard tradition) and you wouldn’t think it, but the story moves along quite rapidly. Highly recommended. Thanks to Hard Case Crime for republishing this classic work.

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