Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated Christmas with her family, which meant a whole new pile o' loot for yours truly. Of all the gifts I got, perhaps the coolest was the beautiful University of Chicago Press reissue of Richard Stark's The Outfit, a book I couldn't help but open the second I got, and one I damn near finished in the wee hours of the morning before finally succumbing to sleep.
Today, when I got home, I read to my dismay that the man behind the pen name, Donald Westlake, passed away on the final day of 2008, a Godawful year in my estimation. The man was a giant, a writer of surprising charm and grace, and the world is worse off for the sudden lack of him. I urge anybody reading this who's not familiar with his work to go get your hands on some Westlake, pronto. I promise you'll be glad you did.