John Dortmunder, who’s been stealing anything that isn’t nailed down since 1970 (see above), is probably the reason this thieves’ dozen includes only 11 short stories. And if we ever catch up with him and that other perp, Westlake, we’re going to make them fork over the rest.
Where to begin among these reprints, all making their hardcover debuts? Echt Dortmunder, of course, is “Too Many Crooks,” in which the hapless thief participates unintentionally in simultaneous bank robberies. Arnie Albright, the fence sorely in need of a personality implant, pops up in both “Jumble,” where he foils a cop sting, then gets duped by Dortmunder, and in “Now What?,” a gaudily eventful day in the life of Dortmunder. Andy Kelp turns up in “Horse Laugh” and “A Midsummer Daydream,” and the other regulars are always on tap at the O.J. Bar & Grill. Mostly, though, it’s all Dortmunder all the time, with nothing but jewels, coins, and purloined cash for company. As for those guys in “Fugue,” a bank robbery gone to the dogs, Westlake explains they’re mostly the old gang with aliases necessitated by a contract dispute with a movie company, although the Dortmunder wannabe, Ramsey, may have taken on a life of his own.
Irresistible. After reading about a certain card game herein, there’s probably not a mystery reader alive who wouldn’t beg to sit at Dortmunder’s poker table.