June 1969, New York. John Dortmunder is approached to carry out a heist by one of his former accomplices, Kelp, an expert in stealing cars. The plan is to take advantage of an African art exhibition to steal its star attraction - an emerald worth half a million dollars - for an obscure African state where the invaluable stone has special ...Read MoreJune 1969, New York. John Dortmunder is approached to carry out a heist by one of his former accomplices, Kelp, an expert in stealing cars. The plan is to take advantage of an African art exhibition to steal its star attraction - an emerald worth half a million dollars - for an obscure African state where the invaluable stone has special importance. Though reluctant to do it and ill-at-ease when meeting the silent partner behind the operation, Dortmunder lets himself be convinced and starts to recruit the crack team that will nab the emerald...Read Less
This a delightful book, with a very likable crook as its anti-hero. I kept pulling for the bad guys. The only difficulty in reading this book is that one laughs so much it becomes hard to see.
Apr 3, 2007
What a Gem
Within a few hours of being released on parole, John Dortmunder, a small-time thief and con artist is embroiled in a new caper. He has been commissioned to steal a valuable emerald for a newly-formed small African nation. John handpicks the men who will assist him in this heist, each of whom brings their special skills to the job at hand and their off-center behavioral traits.
This is not exactly your gang that couldn't shoot straight. Rather, these misfits just seem to be the victims of events often beyond their control. No matter how much inventive planning goes into each robbery, they never seem to walk away with the prize. It is constantly back to the drawing board for Dortmunder and each robbery calls for more innovative and daring methods.
At times, the dialogue reads like the old "who's on first, what's on second" routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. At other times, the humor is much more subtle. Either way, you will find yourself chuckling or, if you are in the safety of your own home, laughing out loud.
Living in New York, I was amazed at how well Mr. Westlake knows the city and the outer boroughs. Having grown up in a rather obscure part of one of these boroughs, I think that unbeknownst to me, Mr. Westlake must have lived next door to me. He can describe stores and houses on the smallest side street with pinpoint accuracy.
This is not the type of book that I would normally seek out. However, I had recently read a short story by Mr. Westlake that caught my fancy. I liked the style of writing so much that I decided to try one of his books.
If you like a well written action caper that will have you laughing throughout, I suggest you pick up a copy of "The Hot Rock." As for me, I am going to order the next few books in the Dortmunder series as soon as I submit this review.
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