A kidnapping plan cribbed from a crime novel goes hilariously wrong for gang boss John Dortmunder—from the Edgar Award–winning author of Bank Shot. 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. “[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 “Westlake has no peer in the realm of comic mystery novelists.” — San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
At first, I didn’t think I would like this book because the story revolves around the criminals, and my main interest in reading crime novels is the satisfaction I get when justice is served. But, in this case, justice was served in a big dose. And the story line that took me there was extremely entertaining. Once I realized how dumb these crooks were, I could see the mishaps coming and eagerly watched them fail eagerly. Not only were there some very entertaining twists, this author spoofed a plot from the well-known Spenser series by author Robert B. Parker. As I learned, Westlake and Parker are one and the same.
One of the few Dortmunder books I do not like. Probably for the same reason Dortmunder doesn't like the caper. The fake Richard Stark book. At least I assume "Child Heist" is a fake book. It is just a rewrite of "Ransom of Red Chief" with a Dortmunder spin. Maybe if I hadn't seen the Gary Coleman movie before I read the book I might have enjoyed it. Oh well.