Tuesday 31 March 2020



A mob boss's right-hand man must track down a missing cache of heroin .

The corpse isn't anybody special -- a low-level drug courier -- but it has been so long since the organization's last grand funeral that Nick Rovito decides to give the departed a big send-off. He pays for a huge church, a procession of Cadillacs, and an ocean of flowers, and enjoys the affair until he learns the dead man is going to his grave wearing the blue suit. Rovito summons Engel, his right-hand man, and tells him to get a shovel.

Inside the lining of the blue suit jacket is $250,000 worth of uncut heroin, smuggled back from Baltimore the day the courier died. When Engel's shovel strikes coffin, he braces himself for the encounter with the dead man. But the coffin is empty, the heroin gone, and Engel has no choice but to track down the missing body or face his boss's wrath.

A second outing for Westlake's The Busy Body. I've stalled on listening to more from Block's Evan Tanner series, until such time as I read the fifth, so I was minded to re-listen to this one during the commute and some hours at work in solitary confinement doing a bit of a solo project.

I enjoyed it last time. I enjoyed it as much second time around, probably a bit more. If I run out of things in my Audible library, I reckon I would enjoy listening to this a third time.

60s book, humour, crime, the mob and some missing drugs and some grave robbing, a likable main character, looking to get out from under the jam he's in.

I said it all last time, I think.

4 from 5

Read - (listened to) March, 2020
Published - 1966
Page count - 179 (5 hours 32 minutes listening time)
Source - Audible download when on a free trial
Format - Audible

* September, 2018 thoughts
I have enjoyed a few Westlake novels over the years, mostly more hard-boiled fare with Parker his professional criminal as protagonist from Westlake's alter-ego Richard Stark than the lighter, comic novels Westlake put out under his own name.

The Busy Body is a mid-60s offering from Westlake and a New York caper. It was a different experience for me on this occasion - having a book read to me, as opposed to reading a book. It's not my preferred format, but actually worked for me on this occasion as I could listen to the dulcet tones of Brian Holsopple (never heard of him before, but he's very good), while working on a Saturday morning in a slightly less frenetic work environment.

Our main plot involves a mob man, Al Engel initially attempting a spot of grave-robbing to recover $250k worth of Mafia drugs which have been inadvertently buried with the courier who died of a heart attack. We have an empty grave and Engel is tasked by his master, Nick Rovito with tracking down the missing suit ergo drugs and who the hell cares about the missing corpse?

Amateur investigation, a dead undertaker, a mysterious women dogging Engel, a dogged and honest detective also with Al in his sights, an unhappy mob boss, a grieving widow, an irritating mother, an annoyed girlfriend, a crappy car, a taxi ride or two, some crooked businessmen, another mob corpse, a gun with prints, a frame up,  and a whole other scam going down with Engel a convenient patsy. Unless of course he can straighten things out.

Pace - reasonable, setting - 60s New York which worked for me, plot - interesting, main character - capable and sympathetic, resolution - satisfactory.

Enjoyable, inoffensive, entertaining, I'll probably remember it longer because of the format it was digested in than if it was an old 60s or later tatty paperback that I turned the pages over.

Probably not his strongest ever book but it was okay for me.

3.5 from 5

Read (ok listened to) - September, 2018
Published - 1966 (2012 recording)
Page count - about 179 (5 hours 32 minutes listening time)
Source - Audible download when on a free trial
Format - audio book on laptop and iPhone


  1. oozing colour off the page ! Your book is very striking and having a few more reviews would really be a game-changer. Try usabookreviewers.com If I can interest you in a book trailer, let me know. I can do 1 for free !

  2. I do like Westlake, Col. He writes with wit and skill, and he writes 'gritty' without going overboard on the gore, etc.. I'm not surprised you liked this one.

    1. Margot, he's definitely an author we both enjoy. I'm hoping to read more from him in the future. There's more than a few on the pile!

  3. It’s been a while since I read any Westlake. But I probably have one or two in the cardboard storage boxes. Now would be a good time to dig into them and see what’s there.

    1. I'm the same as far as physical Westlake's go. I'd like to revisit his Stark-Parker books, and the Dortmunder series as well as reading some more of his standalones. I could spend three or four months just reading him alone.

  4. I really want to read more by Westlake. He wrote so many good books. And they have different moods, some funny, some dark.

    1. Tracy, agreed. There's a range and some variety in his work.