Imagine for a moment that you are in college, or temping, just barely making ends meet. You go out to your mailbox, and there is a government check for $1,000. It is issued from "United States Agent" with a Washington, D.C., return address. You try to get in touch by phone and by mail to no avail. So you deposit the check, figuring, "What the heck? I need the money now, and I'll give it back when they notice the error." Then the next month another check arrives, then another and another. You change addresses, and have no way to notify "United States Agent," yet the checks continue to arrive like clockwork. You marry, have a child, secure a high-paying job, and still the checks come in. Now, seven years on, a smiling stranger sits down beside you and says cryptically: "I am from United States Agent. You are now active." In short order, the "activity" required of you will involve international intrigue, espionage and assassination.

From this exceptional premise, veteran author Donald E. Westlake crafts his latest thriller, Money for Nothing. It is a testament to Westlake's experience that he is able to reel in the reader, making the preposterous seem plausible at every turn. An affable protagonist, a cast of "Boris and Natasha" villains and a company of strong supporting characters provide for an entertaining read.

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