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Why Me? (Dortmunder, #5)
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Why Me? (Dortmunder #5)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  771 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
The Byzantine Fire: 90 carats of flawless ruby with great national and religious significance. It's the biggest heist of Dortmunder's career, making him the target of everyone from the FBI to the Turkish government. Now Dortmunder has to find a way to unsteal the heist of a lifetime. . . .
Mass Market Paperback, First Mysterious Press printing, 229 pages
Published August 1st 1994 by Mysterious Press (first published 1983)
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Apr 16, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

Why Me is the fifth book in this series. I’ve read the first three in order, but couldn’t easily get a copy of the fourth novel, Nobody’s Perfect. That’s too bad as some of the later book’s characteristics (e.g. Andy Kelp always letting himself in to John & May’s apartment) must have been established then.

This book has faint echoes of the first one. A large and important gem is stolen, there are nations involved, Tiny reappears, and Dortmunder is in the middle of it all. But the resemblance
Jun 24, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
Upon finishing the Parker series, I began Dortmunder with a sense of desperate skepticism, and I have been pleasantly surprised. I was underwhelmed by Dortmunder #1 (The Hot Rock), but Dortmunder #2 (Bank Shot) was good enough to keep me going. Dortmunder #3 (Jimmy the Kid) was genius, which made mediocre Dortmunder #4 (Nobody’s Perfect) even more disappointing. Fortunately, Dortmunder #5 (Why Me?) is pretty great. The relationship between Dortmunder and his sidekick Andy Kelp deepens, which poi ...more
Dortmunder accidentally makes the biggest score of his career, then his only problem is getting rid of the loot.

This book was almost all about Dortmunder and Andy Kelp. Most of the other regular characters only make a bit appearance. There are some new interesting characters in the police department and FBI who add a lot of humor to the story.

Pretty good although I missed Stan Murch's driving talents in this one. If your a fan of the series you will like it but It would not be a good place to s
Westlake is a comic crime master and he had such a good comic timing in this book. Its hard for me to laugh while reading a book but he made me laugh several times.

It was a very funny read but i didnt like the lack of heist planning, work in this book. Usually in Dortmunder books when the heist starts to go wrong that is the highlight. This time he jumped over heist part of the story to tell what happens afterwards.
Jun 19, 2017 Janice rated it it was amazing
I have reread Westlake's series of books with Dortmunder in them many, many times. Always an enjoyable read. Great characters and plots. Dortmunder succeeds while at the same time failing. He accidently ends up with a priceless Ruby ring when he burgles a jewelry store (where the owner has put out a sign stating he is on vacation for 2 weeks). The ring was in transit to Turkey as a gift from the American people, but when it disappears everyone has a theory as to why and how. The pressure is on t ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Jonah rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2016 Dick rated it really liked it
I've read a half dozen or more Donald Westlake novels (some of which can be found at my blog, and I have to say that I'm the least impressed by this one, Why Me. So unimpressed in facet that yesterday's discovery that they had made a movie of it is not just surprising, it's utterly shocking.

Although funny and light and witty in the manner of Catch 22 and so many of Donald Westlake's other novels this one had absolutely no depth. It was one note. There was one pl
Jason Reeser
Nov 26, 2012 Jason Reeser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read some of my other Dortmunder reviews to get an idea of what I think of this superb and wacky set of books. I love 'em. And Why Me? is one of the lightest, silliest ones Westlake wrote. He was certainly in a screwy mood when he wrote this book. A short read, this one had me laughing so much I was reading bits and pieces of it to my wife, who doesn't really like these types of books, but she enjoyed the excerpts, laughing along with me.

And what more can you say about John Dortmunder's bad luc
Jun 25, 2015 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Why” was our introduction to Westlake’s Dortmunder series – 15 novels in all published over a remarkable nearly 40-year span – featuring an amusing character who is a professional thief, albeit kind of a bumbler. In this comic crime story, he happens to burglarize a jewelry store that coincidentally was being used to overnight store a priceless gem (a 90-carat ruby!) stolen earlier that day in a United Nations scheme with huge political implications. It takes a couple days for our protagonist a ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why Me is part of Donald Westlake's comic-crime Dortmunder Series. Dortmunder is the world's unluckiest thief. In Why Me he unwittingly steals the Byzantine Fire, a rare and famous ruby ring during a standard jewellery store robbery. Without knowing it he brings down heat from the cops, the FBI, foreign governments, terrorists and even his fellow criminals and has to figure out how to get rid of the ring and the heat without getting caught. Like everything of Westlake's I have read it's a fun li ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Spiros rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever been irritated by someone else's answering machine
The hapless Dortmunder inadvertantly pulls off the biggest heist of his career, stealing the world's most valuable ruby from the safe of a podunk Long Island jeweler. Unfortunately, not only does he not realize what he's stolen: he soon has to face the wrath of the FBI, the NYPD (led by Chief Inspector Francis X. Mologna, pronounced "Maloney"), every criminal in the Five Boroughs, and the combined forces of half a dozen international terrorist organizations. Even more perilously, he has unwittin ...more
Brooks Jones
May 21, 2013 Brooks Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another hilarious installment in the Dortmunder series, in which he accidentally makes off with the biggest heist of his career: the Byzantine Fire, a huge ruby in the process of being returned to Turkey. Because the disappearance of this international treasure causes the cops in New York to suspect anyone who's ever been involved in theft, petty or otherwise, the criminal community vows to find the perp and turn him in. Of course, John Dortmunder gets caught in the middle of the mess but finds ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious first chapter! And beyond! A petty thief named Dortmunder accidentally steals a precious jewel that had just been stolen by other thieves! And little does he know that not only does he have it, but his "world is filling up with police forces, intelligence agencies, guerrilla bands, assassination teams, religious fanatics, all pointed at that poor bastard's head"! The unwitting fool! Great characters and wonderful humor! And I loved all the rigamarole withe the telephones! A great read!
Shelley Barnow
Jul 06, 2010 Shelley Barnow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, favorites, thriller
A book in the Donald Westlake's Dortmunder series. Very funny hapless crime caper. Dated? The technology is certainly a bit, but even the opening answering machine scene is still laugh-out-loud funny. VULGARITY ALERT! If tongue-in-cheek stereotyping bothers you, you probably shouldn't pick this series up. Words like fag, wop, and yes, even the "n" word are applied lovingly across the board to Westlake's cast of characters.
Mar 12, 2009 Amy rated it liked it
Ah Westlake...he never disappoints me. Dortmunder is a wonder, and I always chuckle thinking I am actually rooting for the crook. But such a lovable one!

This one went to my brother, also a Dortmunder fan, while he was visiting from India. His internal clock was a little kaflooey. At 3 am the other morning, I was awakened by loud gafawing- It was my brother laughing out loud at whatever predicament Dortmunder currently found himself muddling through.
Aug 11, 2013 Marion rated it really liked it
I've read a couple of Dortmunder novels before, but this one was so funny, so thoroughly enjoyable from many angles that I've determined to read them regularly through the entire series, starting with the first. Every word, every paragraph, every character, every scene is truly funny, where you laugh out loud despite recognizing the cleverness and wit of the writing. A book to make you happy.
Sep 18, 2016 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too funny

This is the most humorous book so far in the Dortmunder series. Literary allusions mix with malapropisms and multi-syllabic government jargon to make every page a laugh out loud read. Donald Westlake's series is as wonderful as the priceless ruby in this, the fifth Dortmunder novel.
Nan Silvernail
Sep 03, 2016 Nan Silvernail rated it really liked it
Poor Dortmunder. All on his own this time, does an easy little burglary of a jewelry shop.
So how come suddenly everyone on both sides of the law and from all over the globe is after him?
It could happen to anyone, really, but Why Me?!
Josh Hamacher
Sep 04, 2012 Josh Hamacher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny
What could possibly go wrong when John Dortmunder robs a jewelry store? Plenty, when an extremely valuable ring has been stashed in that store and there are many parties interested in getting said ring back through any means necessary. Another very enjoyable Dortmunder tale.
Jan 23, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
It could only happen to master-thief John Dortmunder. He robs a pawn shop and scores the world's most valuable ruby. But it's a hot commodity by anyone's definition: this is the second time it's been stolen today.
its a little dortmunder.
once again, hapless is the theme.
Denise M.
Sep 13, 2009 Denise M. marked it as to-read
AKA: Alan Marshall, Alan Marsh, James Blue, Ben Christopher, Edwin West, John B. Allan, Curt Clark, Tucker Coe, P.N. Castor, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Samuel Holt, Judson Jack Carmichael, Richard Stark, Donald E. Westlake
Jul 13, 2015 Christian rated it it was amazing
Jumped forward in this series because some of the older books were a bit hard to find. Now that I have found them, I cannot wait to read more. The Dortmunder series is absolutely hilarious and so well-written
Aug 03, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is a really funny book, with great characters and great character names, from the hero, John Dortmunder, to the Italian cop who passes as Irish, Officer Malogna (pr. Maloney), to the yes man, Bob Freedly. Really fun to read.
Dec 30, 2015 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dortmunder is a thief. He robs a jeweler who had a mega-valuable recently stolen ruby of international interest. Dortmunder now has a rock that will cause him no end of trouble with the police, the local criminal community and various international terrorist organizations. A fun, humorous read.
Canard Frère
5ème tome de Dortmunder, toujours embarqué dans des plans loser, cette fois-ci il se retrouve avec à ses trousses : tous les flics de New York, le FBI, les truands de toute la ville, quelques groupes extrémistes allumés et une poignée de services secrets pour faire bonne mesure.
Augustus Gump
Aug 05, 2013 Augustus Gump rated it liked it
An enjoyable romp, but I had hoped for more laughs. I think if the character of Dortmunder himself had been more developed, I would have found the book funnier - I tend to find character a richer source of laughs than plot.
Mar 24, 2015 Jennyc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audiobooks
The narrator was excellent, but the story was so-so. I like the Dortmunder series though, so I'll keep listening to the audiobooks.
Apr 18, 2013 Caleb rated it really liked it
Poor Dortmunder... :)
Jul 14, 2016 Joyce rated it liked it
My least favorite so far ... but certainly onto to #6.
Stewart Sternberg
May 12, 2010 Stewart Sternberg rated it it was amazing
Clever and funny, Westlake's comedic timing is impeccable. This is perhaps one of my favorite in the Dortmunder and Kelp series.
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Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950's, churning out novels for pulp houses—often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms such as Richard Stark—but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ru ...more
More about Donald E. Westlake...

Other Books in the Series

Dortmunder (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1)
  • Bank Shot (Dortmunder, #2)
  • Jimmy The Kid (Dortmunder, #3)
  • Nobody's Perfect (Dortmunder, #4)
  • Good Behavior (Dortmunder, #6)
  • Drowned Hopes (Dortmunder, #7)
  • Don't Ask (Dortmunder, #8)
  • What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Dortmunder, #9)
  • Bad News (Dortmunder, #10)
  • The Road To Ruin (Dortmunder, #11)

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“Zachary’s partner, a younger man with a moustache named Freedly— Well, no. The man was named Freedly. Zachary’s partner, a younger man named Freedly with a moustache— Zachary’s partner, a moustached younger man named Freedly— Freedly said, “Have you got the ring on you?” 3 likes
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