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Bad News [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 2002 Dortmunder Novels
Master crook John Dortmunder is offered a grand to dig up a grave in a Queens cemetery and switch the bodies of two 70-years-dead Indians. Ex-Vegas showgirl Little Feather Redcorn, one of the Indian's great-granddaughter, plans to pose as the last of the Pottaknobbee tribe, one-third owners of the largest casino in the east. When the scam goes into play, it's Dortmunder and his band who must make sure things run smoothly.

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From Amazon

When the smartest writer of lighthearted crime fiction brings John Dortmunder back after a five-year hiatus, his fans are in for a double helping of fun. Before the plot takes its first outlandish turn, Dortmunder's having a kind of midlife crisis: what's a career crook to do when his most recent attempt at restocking the family coffers ends in a botched burglary? Dortmunder makes his escape by pretending to be a customer caught napping in the optician's office of a New Jersey discount store after midnight, but he's unable to set up a new heist. Hoping to recoup his losses, he signs on with his old friend Andy Kelp, who's made an Internet connection with a bizarre scam artist named Fitzroy Guilderpost.

Guilderpost's plan to take over an Indian gambling casino requires the replacement of one dead Indian buried in a Queens cemetery with another corpse, who's actually related to Guilderpost's partner, a Las Vegas chorine named Little Feather. Dortmunder and pals have to spirit Joseph Redcorn out of the plot he's been occupying for nearly a century and replace him with Little Feather's grandfather, who's been dead for quite a spell himself. Little Feather will inherit a third of the casino if she can prove she's related to the newly planted Indian, who belonged to a vanishing tribe, the Pottaknobbees.

Dortmunder can smell the wool being pulled over his eyes and has no intention of playing the fleeced sheep, not when he sees a way to cut himself and Andy in for a partner's share of the profits. But the casino's current owners are as crooked as Fitzroy Guilderpost, so while switching one dead Indian with another isn't tough, even for a fellow who hates physical labor as much as Dortmunder does, keeping him planted long enough for the law to match his DNA with Little Feather's is a much more problematic enterprise.

This is one of Dortmunder's most picaresque adventures (The Hot Rock, Don't Ask, etc.), and shows off author Donald E. Westlake's gifts: the pacing as swift as a dealer's shuffle, the secondary characters and the convoluted twists and turns of the plot worthy of the late Ross Thomas. And speaking of switched bodies and stolen identities… is it possible that Donald Westlake is Ross Thomas? (Don't panic; it's just wishful thinking from a big fan of the comic caper genre. But when you've worked your way through Westlake's oeuvre of over 50 novels, and reread every Elmore Leonard you can get your hands on, you might want to make your way to Ross Thomas's back list, too). --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Westlake fans will welcome the return, after a five-year hiatus, of luckless burglar John Dortmunder and his gang of lowlifes from the back room of the O.J. Bar and Grill. In this, perhaps the best Dortmunder novel so far, Andy Kelp, Tiny Bulcher and the Murches (Stan and Mom) join Dortmunder in horning in on another crew's scam cheating two Native American tribes out of one-third of the take from a lucrative Indian casino in upstate New York. Fitzroy Guilderpost, mastermind of the con (and a memorable Westlake creation one hopes to see again), has enlisted Little Feather Redcorn, a Las Vegas card dealer and showgirl, to pose as the last living member of an extinct tribe with a claim to the casino. Unknown to the schemers, the casino managers have been cooking their books and will go to any length to avoid sharing the wealth. As the foes switch dead Indians from grave to grave, seeking to prove or deny Little Feather's tribal membership, Dortmunder plots an impossible and hilarious robbery using a blizzard as an accessory, and comes up with the usual mixed results. Now that Westlake has resumed both the Dortmunder series and (writing as Richard Stark) the Parker novels, his fans again have a choice of the amusing, relatively benign capers of the Dortmunder clan and the cold crimes of the felonious Parker and his endless trail of bloody bodies and blown safes. This latest carries on the Dortmunder tradition and raises it to new standards. (Apr. 11) Forecast: With the June 1 release of the film of What's the Worst That Could Happen?, which features Danny DeVito as the villain, MWA Grand Master and three-time Edgar winner Westlake seems headed for the kind of success his hapless hero can only dream of.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Switcheroo! June 30 2003
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Donald E. Westlake does a brilliant job here of using comedy to display the ironies of life in proving that Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong . . . will) is still in effect.
John Dortmunder is well known to Westlake fans as the break-in specialist who constantly faces unexpected misfortune to foil his "can't-miss" plans. Never has Dortmunder had so many plans upset as in Bad News. This book is my second favorite in the series, after Bank Shot.
The book's opening would make a great short story. Dortmunder is about to walk off with $1,000 worth of camera equipment from a discount store when every alarm and light in the place go off. Using his wits, he quickly improvises an alibi that will leave you chuckling for days.
Having lost that $1,000, Dortmunder agrees to Andy Kelp's offer of a job digging up and moving a body from a nearby cemetery. Andy got the job over the Internet, and it turns out that John and Andy are viewed as expendable by their "employers" -- Fitzroy Guilderpost and Irwin Gabel. In the process of protecting themselves, John and Andy decide that they should try to cut themselves in on whatever the caper is really all about.
Eventually, they become "partners" with the two, plus their accomplice, Ms. Shirley Ann Farraff, who operates under the nom de guerre of Little Feather Redcorn, the supposed last of the supposedly extinct Pottaknobbee tribe who have a potential one-third ownership of a Native-American casino on the reservation in upstate New York. They plan to pull an "Anastasia" and prove that Shirley Ann is a Pottaknobbee by burying one of her relatives in the grave of one Joseph Redcorn on Long Island. Dortmunder quickly spots lots of holes in the plan and tries to fix them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Westlake book Nov. 26 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are some things that are certainties: death, taxes, and on a lighter note, that a new book by Donald Westlake will be a good thing. In Bad News, the latest in his Dortmunder series, Westlake is as consistently great as always.
In this novel, the hapless burglar is recruited into doing some grave robbing for a group of con artists. The con artists are certain that Dortmunder and his pal Kelp are just a couple of dumb crooks, but they are smart and pros...just very unlucky. Soon Dortmunder and his usual gang are involved in a scam to get part ownership in a successful Indian casino, taking them out of their usual field and into the new area of grifting.
The irony that pervades this and the other Dortmunder novels is that Dortmunder winds up working harder as a thief and with less rewards than if he got a legitimate job. The idea of honest work, however, never even crosses his mind. In this book, once again, the simple jobs get ever more complicated and the payoffs are never as great as hoped.
This is a fun book and a funny one, a fast and entertaining read. For those who like a good caper novel, this is a book to read, another delight from one of the masters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great News!! Nov. 26 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am new to the Dortmunder series and I have been listening to several as books on tape (Don't Ask, The Hot Rock, Good Behavior, Bank Shot, Nobody's Perfect Jimmy the Kid) all in the last few months (as well as Put a Lid on it and The Axe) I had never heard of Dortmunder or Westlake and never read fiction. So as a novice to the genre I have to say that I find Mr. Westlake to be a remarkable communicator. His writing brings me into the action and I laugh out loud and feel the tension as if I was sitting there with the gang. I am hesitant to disagree with those more experienced reviewers when it come to this series but I found this book to be the best of the lot (understanding I think all of the are 5 Stars).....I think maybe because of the order I have been reading I was getting a little too comfortable with the Dortmunder formula and this one seems to take me just enough out of that formula to keep me going. I love Mr. Westlakes development of characters (although some of the Indian characters were his weakes) and the twists and turns that are his trademarks ( I also read The Axe and it was GREAT). I strongly encourage you to read this book or listen to it on will not be disappointed!! The only weak part for me was the regular guys at the bar scene that I so look forward to....but even that was good. Read this book and any of the others in the series...I am pressing on to try and finish all of the Dortmunders series in the next few months!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good News! - A new Dortmunder Nov. 12 2001
Donald Westlake's latest Dortmunder book, _Bad News_, proved a sound choice for vacation reading. It's very fast moving, very funny, very clever, and very much a typical Dortmunder book, which is, dare I say, good news. As those who've read previous books in the series know, the most common trope of the Dortmunder books is for Dortmunder and his gang to get involved in a crime which ends up having to be, in some sense, repeated, with different permutations, several times. For example, in the very first one, _The Hot Rock_, they had to steal the same jewel several times.
In this book, after the usual opening scene, John Dortmunder hilariously failing to get caught while failing to successfully complete a robbery, he finds himself approached by Andy Kelp with a unorthodox (for them) proposal. Andy has been hired by somebody he met on the Internet (Andy is always trying new technology, which Dortmunder hates) to help out in a certain enterprise -- they want them to dig up a grave and rebury a different body in it. This isn't much to Dortmunder's liking, but the price seems fateful -- exactly the amount of money he had expected to realize from the stolen goods he was forced to leave behind the previous night. After Andy and John complete the body switch, they foil the attempt by the villains Fitzroy and Irwin to cheat (permanently) their new helpers, and they get interested in a) figuring out what's really going on, and b) getting themselves a much bigger cut. With the help of Tiny Bulcher, they are soon involved in the scheme, which I won't detail here because finding out is much of the fun. Also involved are Little Feather, an Indian from out West, formerly a Las Vegas showgirl, and their target is an Indian-operated casino in Upstate New York.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder lives!
There are very few writers who can sustain a humorous novel. It is a talent wildly under-appreciated until one seeks out those few examples of truly funny books: currently, David... Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003 by Ernest Joselovitz
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Reading
"Bad News," is the first Dortmunder novel I have read. I loved it! The characters are indeed lovable. I will be reading some more of these novels.
Published on March 30 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad News Whodunit
So where'd Redcorn's casket ever end up? Did Fitzroy ever take back possesion of the van Kelp had been moving from train parking lot to train parking lot? Read more
Published on May 16 2002 by mistakesweremade
5.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder rules!
Mr. Westlake seems to be a neverending source of new and great storylines featuring his famous hero - the robber and perfect planner John Dortmunder. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2001 by Filip Rachnek
4.0 out of 5 stars Hooray! He's Back!
How wonderful to have John Dortmunder back in action, and in a book that is absolutely up to par with his best adventures. Read more
Published on July 19 2001 by Librarian
5.0 out of 5 stars Winning Resurrection of Dortmunder as Grave Robber
As a mystery writer with my initial novel in current release,I am quite pleased to see Donald Westlake bring back John Dortmunder following a five year break. Read more
Published on July 17 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
5.0 out of 5 stars Westlake's Brilliant (Criminal) Career
What's bad news for John Dortmunder, the talented but unlucky thief, is good news for mystery readers. Read more
Published on July 7 2001 by Author Bill Peschel
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Dortmunder novel!
Donald Westlake just keeps on crankin' out the hits! John Dortmunder, the ne'er do well thief of many previous books, returns after a long haitus... Read more
Published on June 20 2001 by Christian
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Moved My DNA?
The premise for this crime caper is an excellent one. If DNA tests don't lie, how can you beat one? Donald E. Read more
Published on June 13 2001 by Donald Mitchell
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