Prolific mystery writer Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark, aka Tucker Coe, aka Samuel Holt, aka Judson Jack Carmichael, aka several other pseudonyms, pen names and nom de plumes) died on New Year’s Eve 2008.
His latest book, THE COMEDY IS FINISHED, will be published next Tuesday, February 21 by one of the best publishers out there, Hard Case Crime.
A new book coming out over three years after his death? I said he was prolific!
In honor of this latest release, Patti Abbott is hosting Donald Westlake Week in her weekly feature “Friday’s Forgotten Books” on her blog.
I started reading Westlake back in 1998 and he immediately became one of my favorite writers. For several years, every August for my birthday I would read a Donald Westlake “Dortmunder” novel and a Richard Stark “Parker” novel. Throughout the year I would read other stuff he wrote, but this is always a special birthday treat for myself.
For this extra-special “Friday’s Forgotten Books,” I chose to read the 1985 Dortmunder book GOOD BEHAVIOR. Unlucky crook John Dortmunder has to steal a nun from the top of a state-of-the-art skyscraper. That’s right, a living, breathing nun. Many things go right and many things go wrong in the humorous story, but I have to admit it’s not one of my favorites. GOOD BEHAVIOR gets bogged down in both religious talk and business talk and, truth be told, in some ways I sided with the bad guy who wants to de-program religion out of his daughter.
Still, less-than-perfect Westlake is better than 93% of what’s out there. GOOD BEHAVIOR just didn’t live up to other Dortmunder masterpieces like THE HOT ROCK, BANK SHOT, WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? or the short story “Too Many Crooks.”