Friday, July 31, 2009

Donald Westlake: Gone, Not Forgotten

The great crime writer Donald Westlake (1933–2008) may have passed on, but that isn't keeping him off bookshelves. He has a brand-new hardcover in stores, Get Real (Grand Central), the final comic caper for John Dortmunder and his gang. Publishers Weekly promises the misadventure "will rouse chuckles from even jaded readers." Booklist raves, "With brilliant restraint and perfectly pitched deadpan dialogue, Westlake keeps his characters dancing precariously along the knife’s edge of absurdity."

But that's not all -- Hard Case Crime has unearthed an unpublished Westlake novel. Memory was written in the early 1960s, but Westlake's agent suggested it was too "literary" and encouraged the author to concentrate on more commercial crime fiction. Memory is the story of a man who is assaulted and wakes up in a hospital bed suffering from a peculiar sort of brain damage that makes it hard to form new memories or retain old ones. Far from home, hounded by the police, and desperate to reconstruct his lost life, he sets out on an extraordinary private investigation -- a missing persons case in which he himself is the missing person.

Memory finally sees print April 2010. Check out the cover and a sample chapter at

In related news, Westlake's Parker series (written under the name Richard Stark) are being adapted into graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke. The first volume, Parker: The Hunter (Richard Stark's Parker) (IDW), has come out to great reviews, including this from EW Shelf Life. Publisher IDW has posted preview pages online.

Related links:
Donald Westlake 1933-2008
Adapting Richard Stark's PARKER
Crime Fiction with the masters
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.