Title: Trust Me on This (1988)
Sequel: “Baby, Would I Lie?” (1994) see my review here.
Summary: As a new “reporter” for the outrageous tabloid “Weekly Galaxy,” Sara Joslyn must track down (or invent) the stories demanded by her irascible editor Jack Ingersoll. Soon, she is part of a series of increasingly calamitous capers on the Galaxy’s behalf. One little problem– on Sara’s first day on the job, she discovered a dead body.
I LOVE Westlake’s “John Dortmunder” series! (If you want to know why they are so good, go and read Laurel L. Russwurm’s excellent post LOL: The Dortmunder Novels.) Anyway, since this is one of his other caper novels outside of the Dortmunder series, I figured I’d try it out, and I was not disappointed. Certainly, some of the tricks we see here get used again in later books, but it was great fun.
Sara and Jack make a strong team, and like most partnerships, theirs gets off to a rocky start; however, Sara soon proves she is very capable of working within the insane and surreal world of tabloid journalism. For example, instead of cubicles, the editors of the “Weekly Galaxy” work in squaricles, which are made up on black tape outlines on the floor; yet, everyone in the offices treats these lines as walls and does not cross them. Our narrator is a detached third person limited, shifting between Sara and Jack, with occasional sidelines to other characters. The author, though, does use the beginning of the book to have “A Word in Your Ear.”
The Jack Ingersoll team engages in anything-goes tactics to get their money shot and quote; the harder the shot, the more they want it. Thus, the merely difficult quickly rolls into the realms of absurdity. I found myself laughing out loud at several points. Through it all, though, Westlake creates characters that the reader can recognize and understand, and (in the cases of Sara and Jack) care about. They may be on a fool’s errand, but you want them to succeed.
The novel is divided into sections, beginning with “The First Day,” and chronicling Sara’s adventures with the 100 year old twins, the celebrity wedding, the body in a box, and culminating with “The Way We Live This Instant.” Westlake weaves multiple sub-plots throughout his main plot, ensuring that the reader doesn’t get a chance to be bored anywhere in the book’s nearly 300 pages. The story careens like an express train from South Florida (very accurate description of an expressway in the ‘Glades, by the way), to Indiana, Martha’s Vineyard, Chesapeake Bay, and New York City.
The only problem with this novel is that you might have a hard time finding a copy. My local library had an original hardback from 1988, but they’re good like that. Looking around online to find the cover art, I had a difficult time even getting anything other than a bibliography to appear. So, good luck– it’s worth a bit of a search around.
Here are my best online finds: