Don't Ask

Donald E. Westlake, Author Mysterious Press $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-89296-469-7
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.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-446-40095-4
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