Select one of the keywords
Bad News    by Donald E. Westlake order for
Bad News
by Donald E. Westlake
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Bad News or good news for Dortmunder fans? After an absence of five years, Dortmunder is back with his latest foray into crime, this time involving DNA testing and the Internet. This escapade promised to be hilarious, as Dortmunder is famous for eschewing all technology more recent than the invention of the Color TV. In his ongoing quest to bring home the bacon without paying for it, Dortmunder is in the midst of a seemingly easy burglary at a Wal Mart knockoff when suddenly the lights come on, signifying detection and probably security forces on the way. As Dortmunder is 'a man on whom the sun shone only when he needed darkness', this was of course inevitable. He hurriedly shuts himself into the Optical division and proceeds to set up an elaborate 'customer locked in store' scenario. Incredibly, given his past bad history with Lady Luck, New York's finest buy it and Dortmunder is free to go.

Upon arriving home, he is greeted with less than enthusiasm by May, his significant other, who wants to be supportive but can't help feeling that Dortmunder just isn't serious enough about financial security. So, when his cohort Kelp comes aknockin' (or abreakin' and aenterin', seeing that he doesn't like to inconvenience his hosts), Dortmunder is actually receptive to his plans even though Kelp is notorious for dragging in the latest techie fads. Sure enough, Kelp met their prospective employer on the Internet, but Kelp vouches for his new-found associate, 'No, come on, he's okay. As soon as he understood the situation, he stopped scamming me. That second.' In typical Westlake fashion, the ensuing job becomes increasingly convoluted and requires all Dortmunder's expertise as a planner to bring it to a close.

I was extremely excited when I learned that a new Dortmunder novel had been released. I immediately placed my name on the waiting list at the library, and began reading it the moment I brought it home. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes and no. It's always fun to revisit old friends in new stories, and this was no exception. Dortmunder, Kelp, Tiny, May, Murch's Mom, they're all here in amusing detail. New characters are equally funny and their frequent dealings with Dortmunder's gang are comical. However, any time you have a new addition to an existing series, comparisons are inevitable. Although Bad News is enjoyable, it just didn't tickle my funny bone as much as previous Dortmunder books such as Why Me (in my opinion, the best of the series), Good Behavior and Drowned Hopes, the reading of which often reduced me to helpless giggles. Even so, Bad News is a worthy addition from a fine author, and while not filled with as much inspired lunacy as its predecessors, will still provide some smiles.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews