Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake (Lancer Books, 1969; Hard Case Crime, 2006)
Written a few years after Westlake stopped wearing the Alan Marshall mask for Cornith and Midwood, and was establing his career as a crime writer…
This is one of his funny goofy books. It starts off somewhat serious, with sardonic moments, and eventally takes a turn for the absurd, the way the Lethal Weapon movies got more and more ridiculous. If you like the humor in Joe Lansdale’s Hap novels, you’ll dig this.
A NY cabbie, 29-year-old Chet, gambler and invisible in the big city, makes a good bet on a tip from a fare, and is owed $950 from his bookie; but when he goes to see his bookie, his bookie is dead and bloody, murdered.
Two mafia gangs think he did it; the bookie’s sister thinks he did it; the cops suspect he did it; he gets shot at and beaten up and is on the run, having developed a romance with the sister, Abby, a blackjack dealer from Vegas.
Through it all, all he wants is the $950 owed him, dammit.
Flaws and predictable, it’s still a fun read from vintage Westlake, a Lancer orginal recent re-printed by Hard Case.