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Smoke is a Donald Westlake novel following the misadventures of Freddie Noon. Freddie is a smalltime burglar who is caught looting the offices of a pair of cancer scientists who catch him in the act and force him to serve as the test subject for one of their experiments in exchange for not being arrested, Immediately after swallowing the concoction, Freddie flees though, wile also ingesting another potion in the office which he mistakes for an antidote. Instead, the combination turns him invisible. As Freddie and his girlfriend both take advantage of and struggle with his new state, the tobacco company that the two scientists work for try to kidnap him, eager to use him as an industrial spy, while also unsucssfulyl trying to duplicate the experiment on other volunteers.

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  • Alliterative Name: Barney Bueler.
  • Amoral Attorney: Morton Leethe, who acts as a liaison between the doctors and Bueler and the tobacco executives and is not only onboard with their plans but suggests several of them before beginning to feel in over his head.
  • Bait the Dog: Merrill Fullerton is Introduced as a healthy man with a bit of a disdain for cigarettes and their effects, and a keen grasp of the situation, then starts intensely talking about using Freddy to hijack the human genome project and start a public relations campaign urging woman to abort any baby who might get lung cancer in the future.
  • Blessed with Suck: At first Freddie is happy to be an invisible, uncatchable burglar, then he’s constantly getting bumped into on the streets and such, can’t go out and interact with most people and his girlfriend is grossed out by how he’s invisible during sex.
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  • Camp Gay: The two doctors and most of their circle of friends.
  • The Chew Toy: George Clapp in the backstory.
    [[George]] didn’t so much have a medical history as a medical anthology. He had been shot, he had been stabbed, many of his bones ha been broken in accidents and fights. He had been an alcoholic and a drug addict…. George had at one time or another suffered just about every nonfatal disease known to man.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Geoff feels this way about himself but Freddy punches holes in this fairly quickly by asking if he ever lied to his parents or girlfriends in the past.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jack Fullerton the fourth and the other tobacco executives who want to use an invisible spy for industrial espionage and spying on government committees.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: small town policeman Geoff Wheeabyx isn’t even a cop full time but is the first person to deduce Freddy’s invisibility and almost catch him.
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  • Dirty Cop: Barney Bueler is an NYPD detective under heavy investigation for graft and hiring himself out for lots of dirty work.
  • Dirty Coward: Leethe is reluctant to expose himself to anything that couldn’t be plausibly denied in court and flees in a fight against Freddy.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Bueler is hired to capture Freddy for the tobacco company but is far more interested in forcing Freddy to be an invisible Assassin for himself (killing Buelers enemies and being rented out to organized crime) and gathers blackmail material against his employers.
  • Fat Bastard: Bueler is a ruthless killer with no morals who eats a lot of high cholesterol food, exercises little and suspects that he’s only a few years away from a heart attack.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Freddie convinces Geoff to claim that Bueler and his men had held Geoff (and his deputy and the construction crew remodeling his basement) hostage not as part of an attempt to kidnap an invisible man, but as part of a plan to rob the local bank. They had no intention of doing anything of the sort, but this story will be more believable for a prosecutor and keep Freddy and Peg out of it.
  • I Have Your Wife: Bueler plans to use Peg as a hostage against Freddy and does briefly get the chance.
  • I Lied: Freddie does this to Barney (who had kidnapped and threatened to torture Peg) in the climax when convincing him to put down his gun so they can both go their seperate ways.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Jack the fourth has late stage lung cancer and eventually dies of it.
  • Invisible Streaker: Freddy can't wear clothes in order to avoid being seen when he goes out and has to deal with all of the troubles of invisibility including exposure to the elements, having to fast to avoid having half-digested food showing, and being noticed at one point by a blind man.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Geoff agrees to cover for Freddie after he defeats Bueler and decides to leave the country.
  • Lovable Rogue: Freddie is a petty criminal but a loving boyfriend and somewhat nice guy who wants nothing to do with the crazy schemes of the tobacco company.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: the doctors are affable, somewhat comic characters who are utterly unhappy being dragged into the tobacco companies schemings and just want to get back to their melanoma research.
  • Mook Horror Show: While none of them die, this principal is in effect when the invisible Freddy goes against Bueler and his men and at one point they see an axe hovering in the air.
  • Mundane Utility: Jack The Fourth is less concerned with using the invisible man his scientists have accidentally created for corporate espionage than to spy on his doctors and see if they're laughing at him.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Freddie gives Bueler one at the end with Geoff describing it as several minutes of it looking as though Bueler is throwing himself against pieces of furniture then dragging himself back to his feet.
  • Reformed Criminal: George Clapp, one of the company drivers and test subjects who comes across as a harmless, burned out guy now but admits that there are warrants out for him in death penalty states that make him want to turn invisible for peace of mind.
  • Right Behind Me: Justified, given his invisibly, but the doctors get a rude shock when their talking about how what happened to Freddie is irreversible while at a friends house and then he angrily yells out what do they mean by that.
  • Run for the Border: Freddie and Peg decide to leave the country at the end.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Michael Pendergast, one of the tobacco company’s test subjects to try and reproduce the invisibility formula, whose looks keep her from being taken seriously as a scientist and hoped that being invisible could change this. To her consternation the experiment fails and just makes her ‘’more’’ beautiful.
  • Sugary Malice: The doctors friends after Freddie destroys their vacation home during an attempt to trap them. They make a show of acting gracious and amused by the whole affair even as their eyes make it clear the doctors are never being invited back again.
  • Superior Successor: Merrill Fullerton is a villainous version, being more shrewd than his uncle.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Freddy is caught by the doctors robbing their offices and coerced into testing their formula and the rest is history.
  • Visionary Villain: Merrill Fullerton wants to save Big Tobacco by using the human genome project to eliminate genes likely to develop lung cancer and wants to use Freddy to break into the human genome project.
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