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Don't Ask [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 1994 Dortmunder Novels
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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Product Description

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Looney Tunes Feb. 4 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For those who are not familiar with the main character of this book and series, John Dortmunder, he is an absent-minded genius burgler. Like others in this series, Dortmunder goes to commit a burglary, it gets bungled and Dortmunder, with his incredible genius, not only gets the burglary right, but a whole lot more.
The humor in the book is hilarious in some areas, cumbersome in others (there are conversations by the regulars in a saloon that are always on the hilarious side).
I find some of Dortmunder's sidekicks to be cartoon-like characters. Unfortunately for this novel, the cartooning goes beyond the characters and into the very thread of the mystery/thriller. Dortmunder and his crew have to swipe the femur from an obscure saint so that one even more obscure fourth world nation can get into the UN rather than another.
The engineering of Dortmunder's revenge against those who mucked up his original burglery is ingenious and makes the book.
This is fine airplane or beach reading. You won't be a better person for reading it, but you will have some laughs. Depending on your sense of humor, you may have many laughs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quid Lucrum Istic Mihi Est? July 9 2003
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Humor me while I tell you about this crime comedy.
"What's In It For Me?" is the motto that Dortmunder claims from his family crest until someone reminds him that he was brought up as an orphan at the Bleeding Heart Sisters of Eternal Misery in Dead Indian, Illinois. He finally admits, "I stole it." That sums up Dortmunder's approach to life, and is the theme of this story.
Caught in a tug-of-war, two newly formed Eastern European countries, Tsergovia and Votskojek, are fighting for one seat in the United Nations. A Catholic Archbishop has been selected to determine who shall gain the seat. Both countries assume that he will be swayed by who has the authentic relic of Saint Ferghana Karanovich (1200?-1217), repentant daughter of a family of murdering and robbing innkeepers. The relic is one of her femurs, a remnant of some unpleasant family eating habits. In the hands of Votskojek, Tsergovia has challenged its authenticity. Tests are being conducted in New York. Tsergovia knows that Votskojek has the real thing, and needs to find a way to grab the bone. Like two children pulling on a wish bone at Thanksgiving, only one will get their wish.
Dortmunder and his usual cronies (Andy Kelp, Stan Murch, Murch's Mom, and Tiny Bulcher) are engaged in pursuing this activity for Tsergovia by Tiny's cousin, Grijk Krugnk (and if you can say that correctly, you are the only one who can other than Dortmunder). Although Tsergovia has no money, a New York bank unwittingly loans Tsergovia funds that Grijk Krugnk can use to hire Dortmunder and his crew.
Who will get the seat? Who will get the bone? Is the bone genuine? Those are but a few of the questions this zany novel will answer for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dem Bones, Dem Bones July 25 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dortmunder's back and, judging by the opening chapter, his luck still hasn't changed for the better - thank goodness. If it's possible, the predicaments he gets into are even more outlandish and are described even more vividly by Westlake.
The genius of the Dortmunder books is the brilliant simplicity of the plans that can't fail, followed by their inevitable failure, usually through a most unexpected foul-up. This timeout, Dortmunder is asked by regular scary man Tiny Bulcher to help recover a holy relic for his cousin's homeland. It just happens that the relic is the femur of an obscure saint, somehow important to the country being granted entry into the United Nations. As the title suggests...don't ask.
Once again, Dortmunder devises an ingeniously simple plan to recover the relic from the embassy of a neighbouring country. Once again his plan works perfectly - almost. Once again he must devise an even more brilliant plan which takes more risks and leaves him open to even greater failure.
Hilariously, the boys from the Continental Detective Agency make another ill-fated appearance. This mob would have to be the unluckiest group of blokes in New York. They continue to be the only people who consistently come off second best to Dortmunder and his crew.
This is the eighth book in the Dortmunder series and carries on the tradition in fine style. As a reader who has read the previous seven, the sly references to incidents that occurred in earlier books gave the feeling of being a part of the team, reminiscing about past glories. For a very humorous and enjoyable caper, this is an extremely worthwhile read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More twists and turns... June 26 2002
By Christy
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Dortmunder is at it again. And this one has more twists and turns than you'd expect even from a Dortmunder book. This isn't my favorite Dortmunder caper (I think I would still vote for the original Hot Rock as my favorite), but an entertaining read, providing some laugh-out-loud sequences.
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