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Bad News (Dortmunder Novels) [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2002 Dortmunder Novels
Dortmunder and his usual companions, whilst busy proving that crime does not pay, find themselves involved with felonies both high and low. What begins as a simple grave robbery escalates into high-stakes confrontations at an American Indian gambling casino, a burglary that's such a perfect crime no one realizes it happened, and assaults on the infallibility of DNA testing so complex even the characters are left wondering whose head they're scratching. Through thick and thin John Dortmunder as usual prevails - more or less. Out of the skier-infested slopes of New York State through storm and fire, through city and country slickers, past a judge whose only prayer is that he never meets an interesting case, Dortmunder slogs on, with or without the bacon. For him, getting there is all the fun. It's a good thing his faithful companion, May, has kept her day job.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (31 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446610844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446610841
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 977,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"...carries on the Dortmunder tradition and raises it to new standards." Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Donald E. Westlake was born in Brooklyn in 1933. After serving in the US Air Force he began his writing career with The Mercenaries in 1960. He has written a host of novels over the past thirty-five years, both under his own name and numerous pseudonyms. Many have been filmed. Named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master in 1993 and a three-time Edgar winner, he lives with his wife, the writer Abby Adams, in rural New York State. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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John Dortmunder was a man on whom the sun shone only when he needed darkness. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Switcheroo! 2 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Donald E. Westlake does a brilliant job here of using comedy to display the ironies of life in proving that Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong . . . will) is still in effect.
John Dortmunder is well known to Westlake fans as the break-in specialist who constantly faces unexpected misfortune to foil his "can't-miss" plans. Never has Dortmunder had so many plans upset as in Bad News. This book is my second favorite in the series, after Bank Shot.
The book's opening would make a great short story. Dortmunder is about to walk off with $1,000 worth of camera equipment from a discount store when every alarm and light in the place go off. Using his wits, he quickly improvises an alibi that will leave you chuckling for days.
Having lost that $1,000, Dortmunder agrees to Andy Kelp's offer of a job digging up and moving a body from a nearby cemetery. Andy got the job over the Internet, and it turns out that John and Andy are viewed as expendable by their "employers" -- Fitzroy Guilderpost and Irwin Gabel. In the process of protecting themselves, John and Andy decide that they should try to cut themselves in on whatever the caper is really all about.
Eventually, they become "partners" with the two, plus their accomplice, Ms. Shirley Ann Farraff, who operates under the nom de guerre of Little Feather Redcorn, the supposed last of the supposedly extinct Pottaknobbee tribe who have a potential one-third ownership of a Native-American casino on the reservation in upstate New York. They plan to pull an "Anastasia" and prove that Shirley Ann is a Pottaknobbee by burying one of her relatives in the grave of one Joseph Redcorn on Long Island. Dortmunder quickly spots lots of holes in the plan and tries to fix them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Taj Mahal of comic capers 24 Aug 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you are already a Dortmunder fan, you have obviously already read this book, so you know about the twists and turns of the plot and the hilarious dialogs and the deadpan delivery.
If you don't know yet the Dortmunder series by Westlake, do yourself a favor and read this book.
The plot is out of anybody's mind; the characters are always the wondrous John Dortmunder, Andy, Stan and Tiny plus a bunch of deliriously dumb villains, and so on ..
As a result, just some hint : this is a mistery novel, right ? Nevertheless, I have read it seven (!!) times in the past two years and looking forward to read it again anytime I feel in dark moods. This book is the ultimate healing drug to melancholy. So just follow this prescription, you won't regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Switcheroo! 21 Jun 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Donald E. Westlake does a brilliant job here of using comedy to display the ironies of life in proving that Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong . . . will) is still in effect.
John Dortmunder is well known to Westlake fans as the break-in specialist who constantly faces unexpected misfortune to foil his "can't-miss" plans. Never has Dortmunder had so many plans upset as in Bad News. This book is my second favorite in the series, after Bank Shot.
The book's opening would make a great short story. Dortmunder is about to walk off with $1,000 worth of camera equipment from a discount store when every alarm and light in the place go off. Using his wits, he quickly improvises an alibi that will leave you chuckling for days.
Having lost that $1,000, Dortmunder agrees to Andy Kelp's offer of a job digging up and moving a body from a nearby cemetery. Andy got the job over the Internet, and it turns out that John and Andy are viewed as expendable by their "employers" -- Fitzroy Guilderpost and Irwin Gabel. In the process of protecting themselves, John and Andy decide that they should try to cut themselves in on whatever the caper is really all about.
Eventually, they become "partners" with the two, plus their accomplice, Ms. Shirley Ann Farraff, who operates under the nom de guerre of Little Feather Redcorn, the supposed last of the supposedly extinct Pottaknobbee tribe who have a potential one-third ownership of a Native-American casino on the reservation in upstate New York.
From the beginning almost everything goes wrong, with hilarious consequences.
Like the fine comic writer that he is, Mr. Westlake invests all parts of the book with humor . . . not just the development of the crime story.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Westlake's Brilliant (Criminal) Career 7 July 2001
By Author Bill Peschel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What's bad news for John Dortmunder, the talented but unlucky thief, is good news for mystery readers. It's been five years since we've heard from Donald Westlake's creation, but while he's been away, Dortmunder hasn't lost any of his zip, whether evading police inside a Sam's Club-like megastore to planning the burglary of a mansion guarded with the latest high-tech security measures.
It wouldn't be giving too much of the book away to say that "Bad News" could also be subtitled, "Or, the Last of the Pottaknobbees." That is the scam Dortmunder stumbles into while switching bodies during a contract job in a Long Island cemetery. Soon, he and his confederates -- the massive Tiny and the smooth car thief Andy Kelp -- are freezing in the woods of upstate New York, helping to pass off a Las Vegas casino dealer as the last of her Native American tribe, and therefore the one-third owner of a reservation casino worth millions. It's not an easy task, dodging stake-outs, the police, the casino's owners and the trio's reluctant partners, but "Bad News" hums along as Dortmunder and crew maneuver -- on eggshells sometimes -- among a gallery of rogues, imbeciles and everyday misfits.
Westlake has been around long enough that it may be difficult to realize just how truly inventive and consistent he is. He's delivered the goods in works ranging from comic novels ("Baby Would I Lie?") to his hard-edged Richard Stark series, to caper novels that tread a fine line in between the extremes ("Kahawa," set in Idi Amin's Uganda), and the corporate satire, "The Axe." "Bad News" is another welcome addition to Westlake's collection of must-read and must-re-read books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Moved My DNA? 14 Jun 2001
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The premise for this crime caper is an excellent one. If DNA tests don't lie, how can you beat one? Donald E. Westlake takes that idea and turns it in every possible way, and the results bring some very serious fun. At its best, this book is vintage Donald Westlake and John Dortmunder. At its worst, Bad News hints at the best but definitely falls short. Dortmunder's development of a plan and the final resolution are both well below Mr. Westlake's best.
As usual in the series, the book opens with John Dortmunder having unexpected trouble with an effort to burgle a discount store to raise a little extra cash. As always, he uses his quick wits and preparation to escape. But the original plan and effort seem well beneath his best thinking.
Through the Internet, Andy Kelp gets John involved with two men (Fitzroy Guilderpost and Irwin Gabel) and a woman (Shirley Ann Farroff, a.k.a. Little Feather Redcorn) who are putting a scam together. Andy and John are hired to do the heavy lifting, but soon cut themselves into the deal.
In a few weeks, they are deep into the geneology of the Pottaknobbee tribe as a way to make a run at the Silver Chasm Casino on Native American land in upstate New York.
The only trouble is, there's not much for John to do. He finds it very boring. What's even worse, that makes him nervous, " . . . [T]he problem is, everything's going too easy."
Although they are all partners (including Tiny Bulcher), it really seems like they are really two partnerships in competition to cut each other out of the deal (and possibly even cut down each other as well).
Suddenly, all bets are off and John has five days to pull a rabbit out of the hat. In a remarkably inventive subplot, he does. You'll enjoy this part as much as any Dortmunder book you've read before.
As usual, the ultimate payoff isn't quite as big or as soon as Dortmunder had hoped. But he feels better about himself. Now, that's worth something, isn't it?
On the other hand, if you've read all the Dortmunder novels and loved them, you should be sure to read this one. It's good enough to provide for a pleasant reading experience.
After you read this book, think about other places where technology seems to hold all of the answers. Where will it not work?
Look for the reality behind the appearance in everything you do!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GOOD NEWS IS "BAD NEWS" 11 May 2001
By Robert Edler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Finally, after five long years, Dortmunder is back along with his ever-loving May and his sidekicks-in-crime Andy Kelp, Tiny Boucher, Stan Murch and Murch's Mom. "So, who's Dortmunder," you ask? Well, where have you been for the past quarter of a century? He's just main character in the most hilarious crime caper series ever created. He's...well, actually, the author tells you everything you need to know about the character in the opening line of this book. "John Dortmunder was a man on whom the sun shown only when he needed darkness."
Things always seem to go wrong whenever Dortmunder plans the perfect crime. And rest assured, as you might expect author, Donald E. Westlake, has invented new and side-splitting ways for things to go wrong during this visitation. John Dortmunder is your basic professional (or unprofessional) breaking and entering artist, a.k.a. burglar. So how does your basic burglar end up in the middle of con caper digging up the remains of a long dead Native American, a.k.a. Indian?
Well, it's probably because he didn't get the thousand bucks for the cameras he was stealing from the Speedshop before he got locked in the optical department. And that all takes place in the first few pages of this new page-turner.
Dortmunder fans will really enjoy this new adventure. And yes, there is the mandatory visit to O. J. Bar and Grill on Amsterdam Avenue where the discussion of "the regulars" centers on the names of Santa's reindeer and the seven dwarfs. If you're not a fan, get this book and you soon will be!
As for author, Donald E. Westlake (a.k.a. John B. Allan, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, Timothy J. Culver, Morgan J. Cunningham, Samuel Holt and Richard Stark), I've been a fan for almost as long as he's been writing - which is almost, but not quite as long I I've been reading. The bad news about Bad News is I read it too fast and now I'll have to wait five years for the next Dortmunder!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad News is good news 15 April 2001
By Bruce Trinque - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Death, taxes, and a "Dortmunder" novel from Donald Westlake -- they're all something you can count on (and the "Dortmunder" novel is a lot more fun than the other two).
Another thing guaranteed is that nothing ever goes right for John Dortmunder, a simple, honest (well, sort of), hard-working thief who never gets an even break. As with all of Donald Westlake's novels about Dortmunder and his cohorts, just hang on because it is going to be a strange and funny ride. In previous books in the series, we have seen Dortmunder stealing jewels and paintings and banks (yes, "stealing" a bank, not robbing it), but never before has he had to steal a dead Indian. Of course, it is all in a good cause -- money. And rest assured, all will come out wrong in the end. Dead Indians, live Indians, Indian casinos, double-crossing con artists, small town lawyers, big city lawyers, coffins playing musical chairs ... No wonder John Dortmunder always looks so downcast.
This one is money in the bank, folks. "Bad News" is good news for readers.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder lives! 27 Dec 2003
By Ernest Joselovitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are very few writers who can sustain a humorous novel. It is a talent wildly under-appreciated until one seeks out those few examples of truly funny books: currently, David Lodge, last century, P.G. Wodehouse. A few others. And then there are the Dortmunder novels by Westlake, who takes the mystery genre and turns it into clever, lovable, hilarious adventures of these star-crossed robbers.
This one, his most recent, returns to the level of his earlier ones, those memorable ones like the serial robberies in HOT ROCKS and "bank-robbing" taken too literally in BANK SHOT and the un-robbery of WHY ME?
These are shamelessly shallow feel-good lovable entertainments: a rare accomplishment for any novelist in any period. This one, about DNA and Native Americans' casinos, is a splendid hoot.
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