Donald Westlake is a three time Edgar Award winner. The Mystery Writers of America named him a Grand Master, the highest honour bestowed by the society. Amongst his numerous awards he also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boucheron committee and his screenplay for The Grifters won an Oscar nomination. He is known for the great ingenuity of his plots, his believable and clever characters and his lively and witty dialogue. Born in Brooklyn, he is married and has four sons. He also writes as Richard Stark.
Westlake fans (who should comprise the entire American reading public) will cheer the hilarious return of Manhattan con man John Dortmunder and his friends from their comic misadventures upstate in Drowned Hopes . The caper here turns on the femur of St. Ferghana, a 15th-century relic claimed by rival Eastern European governments in the newly created nations of Tsergovia and Votskojek. Whichever country is awarded ownership of the bone (by a dim archbishop) will gain the one available seat in the U.N. A Tsergovian cousin of Dortmunder's pal Tiny Butcher convinces the nefarious crew, including Stan Murch, Andy Kelp and others, to steal the bone from the Votskojek embassy, currently a boat berthed in the East River. Dortmunder's plan fails at the last minute, leaving the bone under Coast Guard custody on Governor's Island, half the gang in the DEA's hands and Dortmunder in a dungeon watched over by the Frankenstein-like Dr. Zorn. Dortmunder's escape and a few botched rectifying thefts occur before the lugubrious conman conceives an elaborately devious final job that involves impeccably timed crimes in New York City, in Vermont (at the ski chateau of an international hotelier with a $6 million art collection and an eye on the new Eastern European market) and at the Rivers of Blood Cathedral in Votskojek's capital. With laugh-out-loud dialogue, perfectly aimed wit and characters who leap off the page, this latest Dortmunder tale proves again that Westlake is a country unto himself. Don't ask, go visit. (Apr.)
Westlake is a crime-writing machine bordering on genius...twists and turns, masses of snappy dialogue and a ton of humour - Daily MirrorDonald Westlake is the undisputed King of Comic Capers - The Times
Westlake, author of more than 60 novels, including Sacred Monster: A Comedy of Madness ( LJ 5/1/89), adds yet another installment to his popular crime series featuring the dour master criminal John Dortmunder. Dortmunder is contracted by a tiny eastern European nation to steal a sacred relic. At first, the job seems like a cakewalk: ``We could phone for it. We could send a kid to pick it up. It's so easy . . . ,'' he says. As usual, though, things go wrong: Dortmunder is taken prisoner, and the relic ends up in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Agency. How he escapes his captors and gets the relic back makes for a hilarious romp. Recommended for the mystery collections of most public libraries.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Li brary Journal''