Wednesday 14 July 2010

Westlake Score: Brothers Keepers (UK Hodder Edition) by Donald E. Westlake

This latest new arrival is one of Donald Westlake's odder books, Brothers Keepers:

This particular copy is the UK hardback first edition, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1977, two years after the US edition. The book is about a monk called Brother Benedict and how he handles the twin threats of real estate developers attempting to tear the monastery he lives in down, and falling in love with the landlord's daughter. So not exactly a typical Westlake crime caper then. Apparently Westlake did set out to write a crime novel called The Felonius Monks, where the monks commit a robbery to save the monastery, but "I liked the characters too much to lead them into a life of crime. So, to begin with, there went the title. 'Okay,' I said, 'let's see what a caper novel looks like without the caper.' Turned out to be a love story; who knew." (Quote borrowed from this excellent round-up of Westlake's books.)

The jacket design on this Hodder edition is by Bill Dare, and I have to say, it's not my favourite cover design ever. The jacket on the Evans US first edition is slightly better

but the UK edition is scarcer, with no copies listed on Amazon at all and only two on AbeBooks (and one of those is sans jacket). Then again, I guess not that many people are hunting for it; I got this one on eBay, where I was the only bidder, even though the price wasn't extortionate. Anyway, according to those who know, it's a cracker in Westlake's canon, and I'm glad to have it.

And tomorrow, all being well, I'll have an even scarcer Westlake Score to show you. Can you guess what it is yet?


  1. Ooh, interesting guess. But no. Actually I'm being a little misleading... Post coming soon.

  2. I just read Brothers Keepers and I thought it was wonderful. It may be my favorite non-series Westlake novel of all. Funny in a gentle sort of way and rather erudite (but in a good way). I know you are on a strict all-Elmore reading regimen but if you felt the desire to read something different, Brothers Keepers is a real gem.

    Have you looked into Peter Leonard yet? Voices of the Dead and Back from the Dead remind me of The Hunted.

  3. The strict Elmore Leonard diet is over now – I'm still reading Leonard, but with other things mixed in. I've been thinking I should get back to Westlake – I'm certainly getting back to Ross Thomas, incidentally – and maybe Brothers Keepers will fit the bill.

    Nope, haven't tried any Peter Leonard yet. Another one for the list...