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Get Real (John Dortmunder Series #14)

Get Real (John Dortmunder Series #14)

4.7 14
by Donald E. Westlake

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In Donald E. Westlake's classic caper novels, the bad get better, the good slide a bit, and Lord help anyone caught between a thief named John Dortmunder and the current object of his attention.

However, being caught red-handed is inevitable in Dortmunder's next production, when a TV producer convinces this thief and his merry gang to do a reality show that


In Donald E. Westlake's classic caper novels, the bad get better, the good slide a bit, and Lord help anyone caught between a thief named John Dortmunder and the current object of his attention.

However, being caught red-handed is inevitable in Dortmunder's next production, when a TV producer convinces this thief and his merry gang to do a reality show that captures their next score. The producer guarantees to find a way to keep the show from being used in evidence against them. They're dubious, but the pay is good, so they take him up on his offer.

A mock-up of the OJ bar is built in a warehouse down on Varick Street. The ground floor of that building is a big open space jumbled with vehicles used in TV world, everything from a news truck and a fire engine to a hansom cab (without the horse).

As the gang plans their next move with the cameras rolling, Dortmunder and Kelp sneak onto the roof of their new studio to organize a private enterprise. It will take an ingenious plan to outwit viewers glued to their television sets, but Dortmunder is nothing if not persistent, and he's determined to end this shoot with money in his pockets.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
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
Michael Dirda
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
Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal

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.
—Craig Shufelt

Kirkus Reviews
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."

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
John Dortmunder Series , #14
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
520 KB

Meet the Author

Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008) has written dozens of novels under his own name and a rainbow of pseudonyms. Many of his books have been adapted for film, most notably The Hunter, which became the 1967 noir Point Blank, and the 1999 smash Payback.

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Get Real (John Dortmunder Series #14) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CliffordDay More than 1 year ago
Terrific storyline, same general formula, make for an excellent read. Can't beat Dortmunder.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Dortmunder's life and experiences are just made for movies, but that is _so_ '70s (The Hot Rock, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068718/). Reality TY is where today's action is. And what better than a reality TY show about a gang of characters/robbers planning and executing a hit on a storage company? Unless those same characters were actually interested in robbing another company located in the same building. Leave it to John and his string of friends to figure out how to get the job done and not get done in by the job. And the best new product name I've ever heard is the GMC Mastodon SUV!
Scooby-Doo More than 1 year ago
Because of Mr.Westlakes death there will be no more capers with the Dortmunder gang ; and they will be profoundly missed.However , if this is the last it ends the series on a high note.As with the whole series , the story is written from multiple perspectives ; but in this case the "other" perspectives come from unique characters. The reality show producer , the head of the company and the young writer/secretary all provide the reader with information that the other characters aren't privy to. The story within a story angle is also handled masterfully. By the end of the book you can't wait until the next one ; which I suppose is the best compliment that you can pay to a writer. Sadly , in this case there will be no more.
TheDonald More than 1 year ago
Losing Donald Westlake late last year is a blow to comedic crime genre fans and he'll be missed. His John Dortmunder character and his whacky crew keep the reading laughing throughout the book. His latest and unfortnately last Dortmunder is no exception. I recommend his work highly but only for people who want a good laugh!
Book-LoverDA More than 1 year ago
Whimsy, wit and characterzation do not get any better. Grand Master Westlake has written another great yarn with some of the most original and funny charachters in literature. The only crime series equal to the Dortmunder series is the dark, serious, no nonsense crime stories written by Westlake under his pen name Richard Stark, featuring ace criminal mastermind Parker, whose world is as far removed from that of Dortmunder's as Rwanda is from Disneyworld. Still, what I wouldn't give to see a novel where their two paths someday cross. One can only dream...
Genpop More than 1 year ago
The old gang is back for more hijinks. It's alway fun see what they're up to next. Good read,lots of laughs.
harstan More than 1 year ago
New York cabbie Stan Murch's mom takes Get Real reality-show company producer Doug Fairkeep from the airport to Manhattan. They talk during the drive about his show and she persuades Doug to use her son Stan as a getaway driver and his cohorts as a segment on the show of criminals planning a heist. The next day mom talks to Doug and Dortmunder. They agree with mom that they can make some money using their previous financial activities in a sort of mockudrama. Dortmunder lines up Kelp, Tiny and the Kid about the gig and they agree to do it. While Dortmunder and crew work on the details of the robbery with Get Real to include stealing from the firm for the camera and working with a real actor and a gun moll, they plot a real theft of the company's valuable assets at their Varick Street warehouse. After the TV script is changed and killed and resuscitated by the hour, they finally begin to shoot the TV robbery at the same Dortmunder and the gang executes the real robbery. With this excellent comedic satirical final Dortmunder crime caper, the late Donald E. Westlake, who died in January, pays homage to himself as he adds to his tremendous legacy. The story line is terrific as once again Dortmunder and his cronies come across as eccentric individuals whose relationship is humorous with a strong belief this time they will pull off the real heist due to Fairkeep's superego. Additionally, WHAT'S SO FUNNY is the mocking of reality TV to GET REAL as Mr. Westlake provides a great final Dortmunder; a tribute to one of the best mystery writers in the past few decades. Harriet Klausner
RegencyReader More than 1 year ago
John Dortmunder and his merry pack of men are fun, exciting, professional thieves who get along well and have done so for years. They are a fluid group that sets it sites on a hit, gets it done and move on in an expeditious fashion. But of all the things they never thought they would be was TV reality stars. The premise of the show being that they are thieves on a TV reality show - who saw that coming. John doesn't think this sounds like the best of ideas despite the great money. But come on when your best friend's mom tells you to try it out you what the heck you try it out. But what John and the guys decide is a much better plan is to do is pretend to follow the plan like the creative director, Doug, wants but at the same time pull another job - the real job. They devise a great scheme to steal from the show's creator and while that will make their TV career short lived it will make them rich really fast. The glitch comes when they all start to like acting and the job seems to have disappeared, but wait is it back again! However as with every great heist there are secrets to be revealed, plans to be discussed and problems to overcome. Can they pull the real job off while pretending to be part of the show - time will tell and the reader will discover what a great time thieves have. This long standing series has come to a conclusion with a grand finale. While every book in this series had served up a fresh story with interesting angles this one in particular is beyond great - reality stars that aren't really stars but want to be stars yet they are stealing from the stars. Yes it all makes sense and reading the book is a true delight even with the understanding that losing the author Mr. Westlake in 2008 was a great loss on all levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For Dr. Laura Gonzalez for her own uses and purposes at westlake hospital-- Dr. Gonzalez