An art collector hires Dortmunder to steal one of his own paintings
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.
"Wildly funny. ... written with Westlake's usual expertise." - The New York Times Book Review
"[Westlake's] most durable character. ... Whatever can go wrong in the man's elaborate attempts at larceny invariably does, and in the most amusing and unexpected ways possible." - Los Angeles Times
"Everyone who's read Donald Westlake knows he's the funniest man in the world." - The Washington Post
Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses - often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms - but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Westlake's cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson's noir classic.
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