Alas, Donald Westlake is dead at 75. Man, this guy wrote like a demon. I didn't like all of it, but I liked an awful lot of it. He wrote more than a hundred books under a dozen different names, and way, way more of them were good than the law of averages would lead you to expect. My favorites were the Richard Stark novels featuring the thief Parker; somehow Westlake's other books always seemed a little too insincere to me, a little too misanthropic. Parker's cold morality and professionalism seemed to bring out the best in Westlake--the prose was tighter, the humor blacker. He also did a fair amount of screenwriting, most notably The Grifters, one of the greatest crime movies ever.
This is a real drag for me, especially on the heels of David Wallace. All the rest of my favorite writers, please watch your back in 2009, and cut back on the cigarettes and booze.