Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bad News by Donald E. Westlake

This was another outing with John Dortmunder and his gang. I love these guys. These books are ostensibly crime novels (from the POV of the criminals), but the crimes never go as planned, and the guys spend most of the time trying to get back on track when things go awry. Really, these are relationship novels. The capers are just an excuse for the fellows to spend hours together holed up in a motel room or a car, waiting for something to happen and bickering. In this episode, John and his pals (Andy Kelp, Tiny Bulcher, Stan Murch, and Murch’s mom) get involved in a convoluted plot to rip off an Indian casino in upstate New York. As you would expect, it’s one disaster after another, complete with dug-up dead bodies, stolen snow plows, false DNA samples, and crooked casino bosses.

Westlake was born in 1933 and has been writing Dortmunder novels since 1970. I have read 6 of them, out of a total of 13. Dortmunder is like a cartoon character in that he seems to never get any older; thus he’s been about 40 for more than 35 years. Later books contain grudging references to cell phones and computers, but this one, published in 2001, makes it clear that Dortmunder wants nothing to do with them. The books have a timeless feel, which I really enjoy.

(Book 57, 2007)


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