Ken Tucker
April 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

For no reason he can figure, adman Josh Redmont has been receiving checks for $1,000 in the mail, one per month from ”United States Agent,” for seven years. One day, a stranger walks up to him and says, ”You are now active.” Guileless, almost-innocent Josh (he has kept the dough, after all) is abruptly plunged into a plot to assassinate a visiting foreign dignitary. Money for Nothing shows the versatile thriller master Westlake in medium-farce mode: perfect-pitch dialogue rendering a silly plot credible, plus a climax featuring a tall, naked woman escaping on a golf cart. Someone comments that she won’t get far. His colleague murmurs: ”You just mean on a golf cart. Naked, she actually might get pretty far.”

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