Posts Tagged Donald Westlake

The late Donald Westlake’s final crime caper features his bungling crook, John Dortmunder

A reality-show company aptly titled Get Real recruits the delightfully understated John Dortmunder and his merry men for a heist in this clever Dortmunder novel (after What’s So Funny?), a worthy final word from Westlake (1933–2008). The producer of the prospective series, Doug Fairkeep, reveals himself to be both cynical and naïve, a combination that makes him an excellent foil for the guys. Naturally, the gang has to make this gig pay more than what’s offered, as much for the fun of it as for the extra cash. While Get Real helps them map out a “real” robbery, the boys are mapping out a real robbery—of some of the company’s “hidden assets.” The thinking is that Get Real can hardly come after them to retrieve cash that it can’t admit that it has. The game plan changes nearly hourly, and the outcome is anything but certain. The assorted idiosyncrasies of the group’s members and the interactions among them will rouse chuckles from even jaded readers.

Order your signed copy of Get Real by Donald Westlake from

(Publisher’s Weekly, May 4)

Dennis McMillan

Dear Friends,

Booksellers often boast of the authors they can call “friends,”  and I must confess that even VJ Books is presumptive enough to refer to a writer or two with that familiarity.  Rare is the bookseller though who turns the world upside down and is labeled as friend by the authors.  This is indeed Dennis McMillan.

I freely borrow some of the best lines from Don Heron’s classic piece on Dennis, ” Dennis’ legend, all solidly based in fact, rolls out before him like a dust storm off the desert.”   McMillan has been offering some of the tastiest treats in hard-boiled, mystery, modern fiction, graphic short stories since 1983.
Among those who called Dennis friend included the late Donald Westlake, Charles Willeford and James Crumley.  In addition to these authors, Dennis has produced his legendary editions for books by Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Jon Jackson, Kent Harrington, Gary Phillips, Kent Anderson, and many others.  Those collectors who seek to complete their set of Dennis McMillan editions soon learn that the prices have ballooned in the aftermarket.
“Dennis has definitive tastes for the fiction he calls rude. You know, a flat stretch of highway. The lonely diner rank with the smell of rancid vinyl. Tongue scorched by bad coffee. A .38 cool against the skin under your belt. Nowhere to go. Not a thing to lose. We all get that feeling, right? No publisher on earth is better than Dennis at scratching that itch.”  (Don Heron)

VJ Books is pleased to call Dennis McMillan friend and are excited to offer his three latest releases.  In addition, please don’t miss our inventory of McMillan publications.  Dennis has also provided us with a list of those books still available.  See them all, make your selections, and order today.  You’ll be glad you did!  Click here to see all titles on this notice.
John and Virginia

Donald Westlake, 1933 – 2008

(The Weekly Standard, William Kristol, Jan. 19)

The great Donald Westlake died of a heart attack on New Year’s Eve. When I heard the news, I did what I thought he’d want me to do: I reread a couple of his comic crime novels, dissolving several times into helpless laughter.

Death and laughter: These were two of Westlake’s themes. Or would it be better to say that his themes were life and laughter? There were plenty of deaths in his books, especially in his series of noir thrillers (written under the pseudonym Richard Stark), starring an amoral and extremely competent criminal named Parker. But Westlake seemed unpreoccupied with death. He refused to indulge in a tragic view of the universe.

It’s true that his comic mysteries, like all intelligent comedies, have an undercurrent of melancholy. This is especially the case for those featuring the ingenious-but-cursed-by-the-gods master thief John Archibald Dortmunder and the rest of his New York gang, who gather to plot their ill-fated heists at the O.J. Bar and (more…)

Donald E. Westlake, Mystery Writer, Is Dead at 75

(The New York Times, Jan. 1, Jennifer Lee)

Donald E. Westlake, a prolific, award-winning mystery novelist who pounded out more than 100 books and 5 screenplays on manual typewriters during a career of nearly 50 years, died on Wednesday night. He was 75.

Mr. Westlake collapsed as he was headed to New Year’s Eve dinner while on vacation in Mexico, said his wife, Abigail Westlake.

The cause was a heart attack, she said.

Mr. Westlake, considered one of the most successful and versatile mystery writers in the United States, received an Academy Award nomination for a screenplay, three Edgar Awards and the title of Grand Master from the Mystery Writers of America in 1993.

Since his first novel, “The Mercenaries,” was published by Random House in 1960, Mr. Westlake had written under his own name and several pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin (more…)