‘That’s Künt with an umlaut’ explains Harold Künt, the main character of Donald Westlake’s lively, entertaining novel Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, but no matter how many times Harold protests the pronunciation of his name, he’s doomed to be called … well you can figure it out.
Having his last name mispronounced is just one of Harold’s problems. A bigger problem is that he’s serving time in prison for a practical joke that went wrong (you have to read the book to find out what he did). Harold’s intentions may have been humour, but it’s no joke when he find himself locked up in prison and warned to avoid the showers when the Joyboys are there.
But wait … when Harold finds himself working in prison alongside the Joyboys, they seem like decent fellows and they befriend him. They can’t be that bad, can they?
Think of the idea of An Innocent Abroad, well Harold Künt is An Innocent Inside. Yes he is guilty of a thoughtless prank, but he isn’t a criminal as such. Thrown in with hardened criminals, Harold very quickly gets in too deep, but since his life depends on going along with the programme, he must survive by his wits. After all, ‘Snitches get stitches.’
If you like the humorous novels of Donald Westlake, then you will enjoy Help I am Being Held Prisoner from Hard Case Crime. Harold is an entertaining, likable narrator, and it’s fun to go along for the ride in this well-paced blend of crime and humour.
“I think it’s beautiful,” I said.
“You want in?”
Later I would have more than one occasion to give that question deep thought, but at the moment it was asked I considered none of the implications; such as, for instance, the criminal nature both of the act and of my new companions. I was outside the wall, it was as simple as that. “I want in,” I said.
“There’s maybe more to it than you know right now,” he said. “I got to tell you that.”
The tiniest of warning lights went on at the end of some cul-de-sac of my head, but I was looking the other way. “I don’t care,” I said. “Besides, what’s the alternative?”
This is the first of 4 rediscovered novels from Donald Westlake scheduled to be published by Hard Case Crime