The Comedy is Finished by Donald Westlake

The Comedy Is Finished by Westlake, Donald E. (Hardcover) | eBay

“The Comedy is Finished” is Westlake’s final masterpiece. It is an incredibly well-crafted tale that stitches together storylines about fame and fortune, kidnapping, the end of the sixties, and the loss of ideals. It is a stupendous work and it is a novel that thoroughly transcends the world of crime fiction. That being said, I must concede that the first time I tried reading it I found it dull and pointless. This one was clearly worth a second try.

It is the story of a man, a comedian, Koo Davis, well-known for his USO tours to Korea and Vietnam. He is a symbol of American patriotism and flag-waving and the like. His personal life, however, consists of numerous affairs with whatever blonde dancers accompanied his tours of duty, a female manager whose relationship with him was closer to him than that of his wife, who he rarely saw, and little connection to his sons as well, whose careers had carried them on different paths than his.
Davis runs into a bit of trouble when a group of ex- sixties radicals akin the Weatherman or Patty Hearst’s SLA decide to kidnap the symbol of All-American patriotism and hold him as a political prisoner, demanding the release of ten so-called political prisoners who they want flown to Algeria. Just as Davis’ life has wound down over the years, becoming an empty caricature of what it once was, these radicals in this post-Watergate late seventies world are a caricature of the free love/end war hippies of the sixties who had degenerated over time into nutty bands of anti-government radicals who repeated stock phrases and hated the capitalistic world, envisioning something, anything, better.
It is a story, not just a crime fiction tale, of the general moods of our society during the turbulent seventies as idealism crashed and burned and morphed into things that Sgt. Pepper would barely understand.

As mentioned previously, it can be, for some, a difficult novel to begin as it is wildly unlike most of what Hard Case Crime publishes. It is not hardboiled detective fiction. Nor does it have much in the way of a noir feel to it. Nevertheless, it is an excellent novel and truly worth a read.

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