In fact, you could just about say that I loved this book right up until the end. And I really, really wanted to like the end as much as I did the rest of the book. Some of you who've read it (or will read it -- don't let me dissuade you at all) will absolutely LOVE the ending. I'm glad at least to see that Booklist more or less agrees with me ("As for the ending, however, Zusak is too clever by half. He offers too few nuts-and-bolts details before wrapping things up with an unexpected, somewhat unsatisfying recasting of the narrative.")
But don't let me dwell on the end. The rest of the book is great. The characterization is great. The plot is great. Everything (except the end) is great. I love the main character, Ed Kennedy. Down on his luck -- actually, can you say that about someone who's never been up on his luck? -- and with nothing to be proud of or for, Ed takes a stand during a bank robbery. Soon after, mysterious playing cards with cryptic messages begin arriving at his house. It's up to Ed to solve the mysteries and figure out what he has to do.
Some of the "missions" are hard (helping a woman with an abusive husband), some are easy (keeping an older lady company), and some aren't at all what they seem. Through it all, Ed is "helped" along by the Doorman, his splendidly odiferous dog, and his friends (in particular, Audrey, Ed's not-so-secret passion).
I recommend this book primarily for older teens and adults. Technically billed as a "12 and up" book, I'm more comfortable attaching a "14 and up" figure to it for a few of the situations/missions. And seriously, don't let me talk you out of this one, because I really did enjoy everything up to the end...and you might be one of those people that absolutely loves how Markus Zusak wraps things up. In fact, I'd love to see your reviews.