Dortmunder’s last caper.
When Stan Murch’s mom, a New York cabbie, pitches her son’s role as a gang’s getaway driver to a fare, a reality-TV executive, he suggests that they take a meeting. After Stan talks it over with the rest of the gang—Dortmunder, Kelp, Tiny and the Kid—Doug Fairkeep offers big money to film them planning and executing a heist. They needn’t worry about legal retribution, he promises, because none of their faces will be shown. Still, Dortmunder insists they steal something from Fairkeep’s company so they can say the bosses knew about it if things go awry. They settle on burgling the company’s Varick Street warehouse. As usual with Dortmunder, there are complications. For one thing, Fairkeep has inserted a real actor in the script to act as a mole, along with a gun moll for sex appeal. As the set designer replicates the gang’s meeting place on the upper floor of the warehouse, Fairkeep’s boss keeps renaming, then canceling, then reinstating the project. Kelp keeps entering Fairkeep’s apartment without benefit of a key. And a production assistant keeps writing dialogue for the gang’s ad-libbed scenes. Holes are drilled, alarms are cut, lies are told and, for once, Dortmunder and his pals waltz off with a nice payday.
Westlake, who died this past New Year’s Eve, left 14 Dortmunder capers. This one is as beguiling as the rest (What’s So Funny, 2007, etc.), with the bonus of exquisitely placed jibes at reality TV.