Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Westlake vs. Stark 

Terry, in response to a reader question, delves into the dichotomy of Donald Westlake's parallel careers. He's a huge fan of the uber-hardboiled Parker novels (under the Stark pseudonym) and Westlake's Dortmunder novels. Unfortunately, only about half of those books are actually in print; Mysterious Press reissued THE HOT ROCK in spiffy trade paperback a few years ago, but never reissued the books immediately afterwards, which frustrates me b/c I, for one, want to read the series in order and can't find a copy of BANK SHOT. So until I do, I'm going to be stalled on the series for a while. But for those that are caught up, this year offers a double dose of Dortmunder. In April, Westlake releases the short story collection THIEVES' DOZEN--so called because there are only 11 short stories starring the wily Dortmunder and his gang. Then, the following month sees the publication of the newest Dortmunder novel, THE ROAD TO RUIN, which will be launched at Partners & Crime on the 5th of May.

My own favorite Westlake? Hands down, the sadly-still-out-of-print DANCING AZTECS, one of the most joyously comedic novels I've ever read. Take a couple of small-time crooks, a shipment gone wrong, and sixteen dancing aztec priest figures scattered throughout the five boroughs of New York, and you get something that had me in stitches from the first page and never let go. I'm almost scared to reread it because I loved the book that much. But eventually, I will--it's that good.

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