Don't Ask (John Dortmunder Series #8)

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Overview

Dortmunder has a job offer. He's been hired by third parties to pull off heists in the past, but never to lay his hands on anything this peculiar. Frankly, it's a bone. Not just any bone. A femur. Well, not just any femur, either. A femur which, 800 years ago, was part of a 16-year-old girl who, having been killed and eaten by her own family, was made a saint by the Church. The femur, her only relic, is all that's left. Now two small eastern European countries - Tsergovia and Votskojek - are fighting like dogs ...

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Overview

Dortmunder has a job offer. He's been hired by third parties to pull off heists in the past, but never to lay his hands on anything this peculiar. Frankly, it's a bone. Not just any bone. A femur. Well, not just any femur, either. A femur which, 800 years ago, was part of a 16-year-old girl who, having been killed and eaten by her own family, was made a saint by the Church. The femur, her only relic, is all that's left. Now two small eastern European countries - Tsergovia and Votskojek - are fighting like dogs over...well, the bone. There's only room for one of them in the United Nations General Assembly, and the choice is in the hands of a powerful Catholic prelate. The country that tosses him the bone is sure to be in like Flynn. Dortmunder's first reaction to the Tsergovian ambassador's offer is to ask for more front money. His second is to round up his gang - light-fingered Kelp, master driver Murch, and man-mountain Tiny Bulcher - and case the Votskojekian mission, a former tramp steamer parked in the East River. The current repository of the bone, it will be the target of a heist carried out by land and sea, with the team displaying the finesse and split-second timing for which they're famous. It should only be that easy. Before the gang can say "Saint Ferghana's knee", they've got a major fiasco on their hands, one that will reach from the snow-capped mountains of Votskojek to a billionaire's art-crammed estate in New Hampshire. But it will show, once and for all, that when it comes to getting revenge, Dortmunder can cut to the bone.

In his latest caper, Dortmunder is hired to steal the femur of a 16-year-old girl who was canonized because, 800 years ago, she was killed and eaten by her family. Now two European countries and the Catholic church are fighting like dogs over the bone. How will this free-for-all end? Don't Ask.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
Westlake, author of more than 60 novels, including Sacred Monster: A Comedy of Madness ( LJ 5/1/89), adds yet another installment to his popular crime series featuring the dour master criminal John Dortmunder. Dortmunder is contracted by a tiny eastern European nation to steal a sacred relic. At first, the job seems like a cakewalk: ``We could phone for it. We could send a kid to pick it up. It's so easy . . . ,'' he says. As usual, though, things go wrong: Dortmunder is taken prisoner, and the relic ends up in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Agency. How he escapes his captors and gets the relic back makes for a hilarious romp. Recommended for the mystery collections of most public libraries.-- Mark Annichiarico, ``Li brary Journal''
Thomas Gaughan
Thousands of Westlake fans really know that despite the hilarious foul-ups that dog every Dortmunder caper, the sad-eyed professional thief is a true pro. In fact, thousands of Westlake fans count on both of these--that something will go terribly wrong and that Dortmunder's bedrock professionalism will ultimately carry the day. In "Don't Ask", Dortmunder and his cohorts agree to steal a religious relic, the femur of a thirteenth-century saint, that is a bone of contention between two fledgling Eastern European countries. Possession of the bone will lead to a seat in the United Nations. Of course, the theft is bungled, and Dortmunder's scheme to steal the bone a second time becomes ludicrously intricate. Along the way, Westlake appears to be having as much fun as his readers, offering instruction in the finer points of crime, an optional historical chapter (22A), and some fascinating bits of trivia about New York City. Like Dortmunder, Westlake is a real pro, and most libraries should unquestionably buy "Don't Ask".
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892964697
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/27/2001
  • Series: John Dortmunder Series, #8
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

DONALD E. WESTLAKE has written numerous novels over the past thirty-five years under his own name and pseudonyms, including Richard Stark. Many of his books have been made into movies, including , which became the brilliant film noir Point Blank, and the 1999 smash hit Payback. He penned the Hollywood scripts for The Stepfather and The Grifters, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. The winner of three Edgar awards and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Donald E. Westlake was presented with The Eye, the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Shamus Awards.
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Table of Contents

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