After watching a bare-chested dentist trekking through the jungle by torchlight to shake a spear at a sunburned accountant in a loincloth, you might think television reality shows were beyond satire. But that would be underestimating the puckish wit of Donald E. Westlake, who died of a heart attack last New Year's Eve but still leaves us laughing with his final novel, a rollicking crime caper that pulls the pants right off the reality TV industry.
The New York Times
From that very first sentence, you learn two things. Primo, that this is a Dortmunder novel, one of a series of comic capers about a gang of New York crooks who have been charming discriminating readers for nearly 40 years, and secundo, that you're in for a very, very good time…While the developing plot of Get Real has holes big enough to drive a stolen Chevy through, they don't really matter much. Mostly, one just enjoys Westlake's ingratiating, laid-back narrative voice.
The Washington Post
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. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Westlake's final Dortmunder novel is a winning send-up of our current fascination with reality TV. When Dortmunder and his associates-okay, his criminal gang-are offered a role on a reality show dramatizing their exploits, they initially think it's a terrible idea. However, they soon see it as an opportunity to aid in their usual criminal pursuits. While the producers of their show believe that the group is staging a small-time robbery, they're actually working on a way to find what they believe is a large amount of money being housed by the production company. What's not expected is that they begin to enjoy their TV careers, an outcome that contributes a couple of laugh-out-loud scenes. Dortmunder, Andy Kelp, Stan Murch, and the other members of their inner circle are perfectly drawn, and their interactions make for excellent comedy. Westlake, who died last New Year's Eve, will be sorely missed, but he has left a fine last work that will add to his legacy. Highly recommended.
Dortmunder's last caper. When Stan Murch's mom, a New York cabbie, pitches her son's role as a gang's getaway driver to a fare, a reality-TV executive, he suggests that they take a meeting. After Stan talks it over with the rest of the gang-Dortmunder, Kelp, Tiny and the Kid-Doug Fairkeep offers big money to film them planning and executing a heist. They needn't worry about legal retribution, he promises, because none of their faces will be shown. Still, Dortmunder insists they steal something from Fairkeep's company so they can say the bosses knew about it if things go awry. They settle on burgling the company's Varick Street warehouse. As usual with Dortmunder, there are complications. For one thing, Fairkeep has inserted a real actor in the script to act as a mole, along with a gun moll for sex appeal. As the set designer replicates the gang's meeting place on the upper floor of the warehouse, Fairkeep's boss keeps renaming, then canceling, then reinstating the project. Kelp keeps entering Fairkeep's apartment without benefit of a key. And a production assistant keeps writing dialogue for the gang's ad-libbed scenes. Holes are drilled, alarms are cut, lies are told and, for once, Dortmunder and his pals waltz off with a nice payday. Westlake, who died this past New Year's Eve, left 14 Dortmunder capers. This one is as beguiling as the rest (What's So Funny, 2007, etc.), with the bonus of exquisitely placed jibes at reality TV.
"Side-splittingly funny...Westlake will be remembered for his clever commentary on current affairs, his always amusing whimsical characters and of course his brilliant depiction of modern-day Robin Hoods robbing from the rich and giving to, well, themselves."
New York Times Book Review
"A rollicking crime caper that pulls the pants right off the reality TV industry."
starred review Booklist
"With brilliant restraint and perfectly pitched deadpan dialogue, Westlake keeps his characters dancing precariously along the knife's edge of absurdity. Reading his ever-more-colorful descriptions...is a sheer delight, only tempered by the knowledge that this is last call at the OJ Bar & Grill."
Los Angeles Times Robert Crais
"Before Janet Evanovich brought us Stephanie Plum, Don Westlake was the Grand Master of Criminal Laughs with his hilarious novels about professional thief John Dortmunder. Get Real is the 14th Dortmunder novel and proves again that Westlake is the King of Clever."