Donald E Westlake

Donald E. Westlake  was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. He died in 2008.

One of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction he began his career in the late 1950s writing for pulp houses. The best of these was the Parker series penned under the name Richard Stark.

Westlake's other well-known character was John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief. This series of crime capers is genuinely funny.

 

His writing earned him three Edgar Awards: the 1968 Best Novel award for God Save the Mark and the 1990 Best Short Story award for "Too Many Crooks". In addition, Westlake also earned a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1993.

 

Westlake's cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson's noir classic.

 

Suggested Reads

Nobody's Perfect

In this crime caper novel from 1977 rich and careless Mr Chauncey wants a priceless painting stolen for the insurance payout and hires John Dortmunder for the job. But Chauncey also recruits a hit man to make sure he gets the painting back. Dortmunder gets stuck and the painting vanishes. Now he's got a few more days to live, unless he comes up with the painting. 

 

'Westlake is America's funniest crime novelist.' 

New York Daily News

God Save The Mark

Fred Fitch is a con-man's version of Go: Pass Fred Fitch, collect two hundred dollars, and move on. So when Fitch inherits a fortune, after a family member is murdered, he’s sure to attract the wrong kind of attention. It’s not long before his own life is in danger in this comedic and suspenseful masterpiece from 1967.

 

 

The Hunter

The 1962 novel, filmed as Point Blank and Payback, is the first of the Parker novels. A violent, hard-boiled debut for Parker who escapes prison by killing a guard before making for New York's criminal underworld. He is a thug with revenge in mind. 

His target is Mal Resnick, who had betrayed Parker after a heist leaving him for dead.

Parker wants his money back and will do whatever it takes to get it. 

 

'Parker is refreshingly amoral, a thief who always gets away with the swag.'

Stephen King