Synopses & Reviews
From such classic novels as The Hot Rock
to Bad News
, Donald E. Westlake has single-handedly put the caper into the crime novel and thereby invented a literary genre. Now Westlake's infamous gang of wayward thieves, led by the unlucky and unflagging John Dortmunder, has hatched another perfect plan. They're going to dress up as a personal secretary, a driver, and a butler (Dortmunder learning on the job). And they're going to work for one of the most crooked men in the world for the sole purpose of robbing him blind.
"Pariah!" Monroe Hall wishes that people would stop using that word. So what if he was born rich but scammed his own conglomerate for more than the boys from Enron and WorldCom combined? And so what if he takes a little pleasure in reporting people to the IRS, or stealing quarters from visitors to his home? Does that mean he has to be a "pariah"? The truth is, poor old Monroe can't find anyone to staff his sprawling, antique-laden Pennsylvania estate. Until, by a stroke of utterly undeserved luck, a wonderful group of servants arrives at Monroe's door with spotless credentials and a remarkable willingness to please.
For Dortmunder's crew, going to work for Monroe is like being kids let loose in a candy store. When it comes time to start emptying the place of its treasure especially those vintage automobiles Dortmunder makes a sobering discovery: There are some people out there who just hate Monroe Hall. Now the pariah has vanished and the police are at the door. And as everyone knows, whenever there's mischief in a mansion...the butler did it!
"In this boisterous 11th outing (after 2001's Bad News) featuring John Dortmunder, Westlake's hapless crook and his gang decide to hire on as live-in staff to a wealthy corporate crook as a way to get access to, and ultimately steal, his collection of antique cars. Then things start to crumble, as they tend to do around Dortmunder. Not his fault, of course. Who could know that three other sets of people are also plotting revenge on this same crook? Or that these other bozos would kidnap the crook, thereby bringing the police onto the scene just at the wrong time? And who could have predicted that Dortmunder would be kidnapped right along with the boss? The only thing we know for sure is, it's all funny. Nobody does comic capers better than Westlake. This one unfolds with such cinematic energy that we don't so much read it as watch while the players race around the countryside and almost bang into each other. Sparkling droplets of Westlake wit abound: a fence named Honest Irving, a small Pennsylvania town named Shickshinny, a security guard named Mort Pessle and Dortmunder's gargantuan pal Tiny, who 'didn't so much sit in an automobile as wear it.' Almost everyone comes out at the end with dignity and limbs intact, but with no loot. The good news for readers is that Dortmunder is free to try again another day. (Apr. 21) FYI: A Dortmunder story collection, Thieves' Dozen (Forecasts, Mar. 8), is being released simultaneously." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] manic comic caper....Ingenuity fuels the plot, but what puts the match to the comedy is the moral outrage of furiously funny characters." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Not quite the funniest of Dortmunder's capers, but worthwhile if only to eavesdrop on the drinkers at the O.J. Bar & Grill as they resolve the issue of global warming." Kirkus Reviews
"Westlake's elaborate setup falls short of its promise, preparing readers for a farcical train wreck only to shunt them onto a siding for a low-key derailment and serving up deadpan humor that is often just dead." David Wright, Booklist
From the Grand Master of Mystery comes the latest novel featuring the ever-lovable but hapless crook John Dortmunder.
Ever-lovable but hapless crook John Dortmunder and his merry band of misfits attempt to drive off with a fleet of vintage automobiles in a con against a corrupt CEO who has lavished more of his company's money on himself than the boys at Enron and WorldCom combined.
The con is on. The mark is Monroe Hall, a corrupt CEO who lavished more of his company's money on himself than the boys at Enron and WorldCom combined. The loot? A fleet of vintage automobiles that would leave the Sultan of Brunei blushing. The catch? Trying to outsmart a collection of angry union men who've been taken for a ride and blue-blooded suckers who've been taken for their family fortunes. But if Dortmunder and his merry band of crooks are to drive off with the loot, they'll have to act fast before they get caught in a deadly crossfire.
About the Author
Donald E. Westlake was born in Brooklyn in 1933. After serving in the U.S. Air Force he began his writing career with The Mercenaries in 1960. He has written dozens of novels over the past thirty-five years, under his own name and a rainbow of pseudonyms. Named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master in 1993, he lives with his wife, the writer Abby Adams, in rural New York State.