Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: Thieves' Dozen -- Donald E. Westlake

This collection contains eleven short stories, most of which appeared first in Playboy,so I guess eleven makes up a thieves' dozen.  Ten of the stories are about John Dortmunder, with whom I assume you're all familiar.  The eleventh, "Fugue for Felons," is about John Rumsey, who's a lot like Dortmunder.  The reason for the Rumsey name is explained in an amusing introduction by Westlake.  This is the story's first appearance.  There's also a general intro to the volume.  In most of the stories Dortmunder's on his own, though characters from the novels do show up in a couple.

As you'd expect, the stories are very funny, well-written, and cleverly plotted.  Dortmunder has a lot of bad luck, but in the end things turn out just fine for him.   Mostly.  Maybe not in "Give Till It Hurts," about a poker game that Dortmunder falls into.  "Too Many Crooks" is almost a slapstick affair about what happens when too many crooks decide to rob a bank just after it's already been robbed.  I think this one might've won an Edgar, but don't hold me to that.  You can't really go wrong with any of these, except maybe "The Dortmunder Workout," which isn't a story so much as a brief joke.  Westlake was a master of just about any form he tried.  Short stories are no exception.

Ask a Silly Question
Horse Laugh
Too Many Crooks
A Midsummer Daydream
The Dortmunder Workout
Party Animal
Give Till It Hurts
Jumble Sale
Now What?
Art and Craft

Fugue for Felons


George said...

Donald Westlake's THIEVE'S DOZEN is a lot of fun. I remember reading those stories in PLAYBOY. I read it for the stories and the articles!

Unknown said...

Me, too!

Jeff Meyerson said...

As I seem to remember, this came out as a trade paperback original. Of course, I bought it immediately, and enjoyed it as much as you did. Some of the Dortmunder books get a little long for my taste, but the shorter form works perfectly.