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DONALD E. WESTLAKE’S  author profile is long and extensive. He wrote it himself. You can read it on his Amazon Author Page. These Dortmunder novels showcase one of the most interesting and funny cast of goofballs ever created.

Donald Westlake penned more than one hundred books, mostly in crime fiction but also in genres from biography to history, science fiction and children’s stories.

 

The John Dortmunder Novels In Order

* THE HOT ROCK

Edgar Award Finalist: A comical crime caper “filled with action and imagination”.

John Dortmunder leaves jail with ten dollars, a train ticket, and nothing to make money on but his good name. Thankfully, his reputation goes far. No one plans a caper better than Dortmunder. His friend Kelp picks him up in a stolen Cadillac and drives him away from Sing-Sing, telling a story of a $500,000 emerald that they just have to steal. Dortmunder doesn’t hesitate to agree.

The emerald is the crown jewel of a former British colony, lately granted independence and split into two nations: one for the Talabwo people, one for the Akinzi. The Akinzi have the stone, the Talabwo want it back, and their UN representative offers a fine payday to the men who can get it. It’s not a simple heist, but after a few years in stir, Dortmunder could use the challenge.

 

* BANK SHOT

A crew of thieves hopes to hijack a mobile home full of money.

John Dortmunder has been working an encyclopedia-selling scam while waiting for his next big heist. Unfortunately, his latest mark seems to be wise to the con, and he has to cut his sales pitch short and make a quick escape.

But opportunity awaits: Main Street bank has temporarily relocated to a mobile home. All Dortmunder has to do is get past seven security guards, put the bank-on-wheels in gear, and drive away. It’s a simple plan, until it all goes wrong . . .

 

* JIMMY THE KID

A kidnapping plan cribbed from a crime novel goes hilariously wrong for gang boss John Dortmunder.

When his “friend” Andy Kelp has a plan, career criminal John Dortmunder knows that means trouble. Kelp’s schemes, no matter how well intentioned, tend to spiral quickly out of control. But this one, Kelp swears, is airtight. He read it in a book!

The novel featured a kidnapping so brilliant there’s no way it wouldn’t work in real life. Though offended that his usual role as heist planner has been usurped, Dortmunder reluctantly agrees to the scheme.

Unfortunately, they kidnap a kid smarter than all of them put together. What’s simple on the page turns complex and chaotic—and there’s no reference guide to help Dortmunder through the madness he’s signed on for.

 

* NOBODY’S PERFECT

An inside-job art heist goes awry in this “wildly funny” crime novel

It would take a miracle to keep Dortmunder out of jail. Though he cased the electronics store perfectly, the cops surprised him, turning up in the alley just as he was walking out the back door, a television in each hand. Already a two-time loser, without divine intervention he faces a long stretch inside. Then God sends J. Radcliffe Stonewiler, a celebrity lawyer who gets Dortmunder off with hardly any effort at all.

Stonewiler was sent by Arnold Chauncey, an art lover with a cash flow problem. He asks the thief to break into his house and make off with a valuable painting in exchange for a quarter of the insurance money. Chauncey has pulled the stunt twice before, so it must look real. He’ll give Dortmunder no inside help—a shame since, when this caper spins out of control, he’ll need all the help he can get.

 

* WHY ME?

Be careful what you steal . . . A fast-paced crime caper.

The Byzantine Fire is much more than a ninety-carat ruby. As a stone it’s worth over a million dollars, a value vastly increased by its pure gold band—but its history makes it priceless. A ring that has been fought for with sword and pen, and passed from nation to nation by all manner of theft and trickery, it finally made its way to the United States.

The US has agreed to return it to Turkey, but it’s about to be stolen twice more. A gang of Greeks armed with Sten guns burst into the security room at JFK Airport and escape with the priceless stone, which they deposit in the safe at a small jeweler’s shop in Queens. A few hours later, unlucky thief John Dortmunder, expecting a routine robbery, steals it again. Much blood has been shed for this little ruby, and Dortmunder’s could be next.

 

* GOOD BEHAVIOR

A hapless thief is drafted by a gang of nuns in need.

It was supposed to be a simple caviar heist. Dortmunder is almost in the building when the alarm sounds, forcing him up the fire escape and onto the roof. He leaps onto the next building, smashing his ankle and landing in the den of the worst kind of creature he can imagine: nuns.

Although decades removed from his Catholic orphanage, Dortmunder still trembles before the sisters’ habits. But these nuns are kinder than the ones he grew up with. They bandage his wound, let him rest, and don’t call the cops—for a price. The father of the youngest member of their order, disgusted by their vow of silence, has kidnapped his daughter, locked her in a tightly guarded penthouse apartment, and is attempting to convince her to renounce her faith.

The nuns ask Dortmunder to rescue the girl. It’s an impossible assignment—but one he cannot refuse.

 

* DROWNED HOPES

A rollicking tale of an aging robber who wants to blow up a reservoir.

In his day, Tom was a hard man. He came up with Dillinger in the 1930s, and pulled a lot of high-profile jobs before the state put him away. They meant it to be for good, but after twenty-three years the prisons are too crowded for seventy-year-old bank robbers, and so they let the old man go. Finally free, he heads straight for John Dortmunder’s house.

Long ago, Tom buried $700,000, and now he needs help digging it up. While he was inside, the government dammed a nearby river, creating a reservoir and putting fifty feet of water on top of his money. He wants to blow the dam, drown the villagers, and move to Acapulco.

If Dortmunder wants a clean conscience to go along with his share, he needs to find a nice way to get the money before Tom’s nasty instincts get the best of both of them.

 

* WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

It started with a ring. A cheap ring.

The yellow metal said brass, not gold, and the sparkly bits were certainly not diamonds. But the ring belonged to May’s horseplaying uncle, who swore it brought good luck. Dortmunder, who wouldn’t kick a little good luck out of bed, puts it to the test when he goes to burglarize Long Island billionaire Max Fairbanks.

As luck would have it, Dortmunder is greeted by Fairbanks himself – and a loaded gun – as soon as he strolls through the door. When the cops arrive, the mogul adds insult to injury by claiming that Dortmunder’s lucky ring is actually his.

Big mistake, big guy. As soon as Dortmunder can give the cops the slip, the world’s most single-minded burglar goes after the fat cat with a vengeance and a team of crooks that only he can assemble. And from the get go everything will go Dortmunder’s way – everything, that is, except the ring.

 

* BAD NEWS

The eagerly anticipated return of unlucky master crook John Dortmunder.

Dortmunder doesn’t like manual labor. So when Andy Kelp relays the offer of a grand to help dig up a grave in a far-flung cemetery, he balks…until he begins to wonder just why Fitzroy Guilderpost, criminal mastermind, wants to pull a switcheroo of two 70-years-dead Indians.

Central to the plan is Little Feather Redcorn, the ex-Vegas showgirl and great-granddaughter of the newly-switched stiff. She will pose as the last remaining member of the Pottaknobbee tribe, one-third owners of the largest casino in the east. When the remains of the last known Pottaknobbee are dug up, down there in Queens, the DNA will prove that it’s her ancestor.

But when the scam goes into play, it’s Dortmunder and his band who must step in to make sure everything runs smoothly.

 

* THE ROAD TO RUIN

Career thief John Dortmunder is back to steal a fleet of vintage cars from a corrupt CEO.

The con is on. The mark is Monroe Hall, a 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.

 

* THIEVES DOZEN

An original compilation of short stories that in to Westlake’s The Road to Ruin.

It’s all Dortmunder, all the time, in this long-awaited collection representing one of the finest achievements in crime fiction.

Chosen from hundreds of stories and decades of work, this is the first time that Westlake has offered a compilation of his short form Dortmunder adventures, including “Ask a Silly Question,” “Horse Laugh,” “Too Many Crooks,” “A Midsummer’s Daydream,” “The Dortmunder Workout,” “Party Animal,” “Give ‘Til It Hurts,” “Jumble Sale,” “Now What?,” “Art and Craft,” and “Fugue for Felons.” Hailed as classics all, THIEVES’ DOZEN will surely delight Westlake’s ravenous fans.

 

* WATCH YOUR BACK

The bad get better, the good get worse, and God save anyone caught between a thief named John Dortmunder and his most improbable plans.

It’s a long way from the island of Manhattan to the island resort where Preston Fareweather has his hedonistic hideout-avoiding the legal prosecutions of five embittered ex-wives and enjoying the attentions of the prettiest gold diggers who happen to come his way. A terrible human being, Preston makes the terrible mistake of getting friendly with an equally dyspeptic personality: a New York fence named Arnie Albright.

Arnie went to the island paradise to become a happier man. It worked. After a week with Preston, Arnie comes home to New York with a whole new attitude and a proposition for his associate John Dortmunder: a can’t miss, million-dollar robbery-of Preston’s nearly unguarded, art-filled Fifth Avenue penthouse.

But when Dortmunder and his clean-up crew get together to plan the heist, they quickly get distracted and suddenly a billionaire from Fifth Avenue and a would-be Tony Soprano from New Jersey have one thing in common: John Dortmunder is after them both at the same time…and disaster can’t be far behind.

 

* WHAT’S SO FUNNY?

Dortmunder takes on an impossible crime, one he doesn’t want and doesn’t believe in — but a little blackmail goes a long way.

All it takes is a few underhanded moves by a tough ex-cop named Eppick to pull Dortmunder into a game he never wanted to play.
With no choice, he musters his always-game gang and they set out on a perilous treasure hunt for a long-lost gold and jewel-studded chess set once intended as a birthday gift for the last Romanov czar, which unfortunately reached Russia after that party was over.

From the moment Dortmunder reaches for his first pawn, he faces insurmountable odds. The purloined past of this precious set is destined to confound any strategy he finds on the board. Success is not inevitable with John Dortmunder leading the attack, but he’s nothing if not persistent, and some gambit or other might just stumble into a winning move.

 

* GET REAL

The bad get better, the good slide a bit, and Lord help anyone caught between a thief and the current object of his attention.

Getting caught red-handed is inevitable when a TV producer convinces a thief named John Dortmunder — and his merry gang — to do a reality show that captures their next score. The producer guarantees to find a way to keep the show from being used in evidence against them. They’re dubious, but the pay is good, so they take him up on his offer.

A mock-up of the OJ bar is built in a warehouse down on Varick Street. The ground floor of that building is a big open space jumbled with vehicles used in TV world, everything from a news truck and a fire engine to a hansom cab (without the horse).

As the gang plans their next move with the cameras rolling, Dortmunder and Kelp sneak onto the roof of their new studio to organize a private enterprise. It will take an ingenious plan to outwit viewers glued to their television sets, but Dortmunder is nothing if not persistent, and he’s determined to end this shoot with money in his pockets.

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