Dortmunder’s last caper, funny to the end

Dortmunder's last caper: Get Real by Donald E. WestlakeThe doleful John Dortmunder and his band of merry men make their last comic foray into the world of crime in this delightful story, the last of Donald Westlake’s more than 100 novels before he passed away in 2008 at the age of 75.


Get Real (John Dortmunder #14) by Donald E. Westlake

@@@@ (4 out of 5)


Writing under 17 pseudonyms as well as his own name, Donald Westlake began his writing career in his teens in the 1940s. His first published story appeared in 1954 when he was 21. He was writing full-time by 1959. (Let’s hear it for persistence!) Westlake’s understated writing style and the devilish complexity of the capers he devised for Dortmunder and company are always good for hours of smiles, occasional out-loud laughter, and one or two hysterical laughing fits in every book.

In Get Real, Dortmunder’s gang is approached by a reality-television producer–the company is called Get Real–and asked to carry out a robbery on film, with their faces obscured. This loopy proposition isn’t even the most over-the-top twist in the story — but I won’t spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that the gang’s all here: master getaway driver Stan Murch and his mother, conveniently called Murch’s mom, who drives a taxi; Andy Kelp, who can break into anything, usually without leaving a trace; Tiny Bulcher, who isn’t, and whose sheer bulk makes it possible for the gang to avoid carrying weapons; and The Kid, Judson Blint, a latecomer to the gang who understands such modern annoyances as cell phones, computers, and answering machines. When this motley crew accepts the TV producer’s generous offer to make them the subjects of a new show, additional characters come onto the scene and confusion breaks out. In the end, of course, nothing turns out as planned.

If you want to know more, read Get Real. You’ll find that any of Donald E. Westlake‘s many Dortmunder novels will be a delight. This is crime without violence or victims — a rare opportunity to laugh without a trace of guilt.

For additional reading

You might also enjoy seeing my review on another Dortmunder novel. It’s at Another hilarious novel from Donald E. Westlake. You might also take a look at My 15 favorite funny novels, of which Get Real is one.

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