How can you know a book's reputation for 40 years and still not have read it? Just an oversight, I guess, but I'm glad I finally got around to Brother's Keepers. If there's one word for this one, I think the word might be delightful. It's a warm, funny, and highly entertaining book. It's not a crime novel, although there are certainly crimes involved. It's just a fine comic novel that proves once again what a versatile writer Donald E. Westlake was.
There's this monastery, see, that was established in New York City in 1777, and now it's sitting right in the middle of some prime real estate that's ripe for redevelopment. And, sure enough, no one can find the monastery's long-forgotten lease agreement, so there's no way for the monks to prove ownership or to prove that they have a right to stay where they are. Which, of course, is what they want to do. Complications and high jinks ensue.
The books is narrated by Brother Benedict, who loves the monastery and who goes through quite a crisis of conscience. Westlake does a masterful job with this and with the entire story, which is guaranteed to make you smile. Highly recommended.