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Nobody's Perfect

(Dortmunder #4)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  873 ratings  ·  45 reviews
An art collector hires Dortmunder to steal one of his own paintings

It would take a miracle to keep Dortmunder out of jail. Though he cased the electronics store perfectly, the cops surprised him, turning up in the alley just as he was walking out the back door, a television in each hand. Already a two-time loser, without divine intervention he faces a long stretch inside.
ebook, 222 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Road (first published 1977)
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  873 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Poor John Dortmunder has such bad luck that things go sideways for him even when he’s stealing from a guy who is helping him do it.

After Dortmunder gets caught in the act of stealing TVs out of a repair shop he seems certain to be heading back to prison for a long stay, but a high-priced defense attorney suddenly shows up and does the kind of court room magic that keeps guys like Robert Durst running around loose for years. It turns out that the lawyer has been looking for a thief who met a cert
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that's ever seen their best laid plans go agley.
Say, for the sake of argument, that you are halfway through a 17 hour train journey, it's dark out, and you have been diligently reading The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, which are starting to blur together in your head everso slightly. In your book bag you have a Dortmunder novel which you have never read. Are you justified in abandoning your set policy of never starting a book before finishing the book you have been reading? Somewhere just outside of Chemult, Oregon, the decision just ...more
Just when you think nothing else could possibly happen....!
Jason Reeser
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better examples of why the Dortmunder series is so good. This has the lighthearted comedy that makes it so enticing. The villians are just bad enough to be villians, without being cruel and distasteful. The "good guys" are just crooked enough for the hi-jinks that ensue, but not too crooked to make them unlikable. One of the better characters in the series, May, has too small a role, but this was early in the series, and I don't think WEstlake had developed her well enough yet ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

Thank heaven for Inter-Library Loan (ILL)! For, while I had finished every available Dortmunder novel, this one eluded me. And, although the delivery time can range from days, to weeks, to months, like the Mounties, we always get our man (book). (Well, at least Dudley Do-Right always did.)

Nobody’s Perfect is the fourth novel, following on the heels of The Hot Rock, Bank Shot, and Jimmy The Kid. This is, for me, where some of the slapstick oozes out of the stories to be replaced by subtler, at ti
Rob Kitchin
Folly Leads Man to Ruin would have been a much better title for this book than Nobody’s Perfect. Dortmunder’s follies pile up one after the other, each leading to a more precarious future. Westlake keeps up a steady pace, with a series of nicely constructed and clever set pieces that are strung together into a plot divided into four parts. There is a gentle humour running throughout and a few genuine belly laughs. The characterisation is well observed, with a good mix of likeable rogues. For me, ...more
Deborah Edwards
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book that introduced me to Westlake's hilarious Dortmunder (the hapless criminal mastermind and his lovably bungling crew of misfit thieves)and hooked me for life. I remember being charmed by this book when I first read it, and I have looked forward to each subsequent installment in the series. As outrageous as the scenarios often are, it all works because the characters are so perfectly drawn by Westlake (and obviously, with great fondness), and the dialogue is not only clever but laugh-out ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
I liked the first 89% of Nobody’s Perfect well enough (statistic courtesy of my Kindle’s progress bar) but with 11% to go, Donald E. Westlake lost me. Too much, too silly, too busy, trying too hard. In Nobody’s Perfect, Dortmunder (a.k.a. Sad Sack Parker) has a robbery go unluckily wrong (surprise!) and as a result gets blackmailed into performing another robbery, which, of course, seems unlikely to go well. If you enjoy the Dortmunder formula, you will certainly enjoy Nobody’s Perfect, despite ...more
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
A tragic tale in which Dortmunder is given the perfect crime that he can't refuse, on pain of death. But he wasn't planning to be stuck at the bottom of an elevator shaft for the sake of two bottles of very good bourbon or have to travel all the way to Scotland to steal a painting for the second time. Dortmunder is totally jinxed.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Busted through sheer bad luck - does he have any other kind? - Dortmunder's going back to jail for sure, and it's only his third book into the series. Suddenly, an expensive and clever lawyer appears and gets him off, through sheer entertainment value, if noting else. Naturally, his deliverance comes with a catch - a heist organised by the victim as part of an insurance scam. Still, a pulling off a burglary where the inside man is the person you're burgling should be easy enough. But nothing is ...more
Mr. Blaine
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the past few months, I have devoured about five Donald Westlake books, and Nobody's perfect is tied with jimmy the kid as being my favorite. Westlake is one of the best writers that I have read, and in this book he is at the top of his game, creating a fast, funny read that I quickly consumed, and then wanted more. The reason that I like Westlake so much is that all of his books have great writing, great characters, and great plots, and nobody's perfect has all three of this elements in abund ...more
This Dortmunder adventure is a bit longer than others in the series as the main character commits multiple thefts as part of the same storyline. To make things more interesting for the reader, Dortmunder travels to Puerto Rico, London, and parts of Scotland as part of this caper. I enjoyed the light read on the beach, but these books do not make me laugh out loud. At their best, Westlake's Dortmunder stories make me smile with entertainment. This one easily succeeds on that level.
Mahesh Phadke
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too many twists but still very entertaining.
Like all Dortmunder books, the caper keeps failing time and again with hilarious consequences. You tend to side and sympathise with these gangsters for their enthusiasm, planning and failures.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: boozy-reviews
Donald Westlake's Dortmunder novels are really all equally funny and surprising. if you haven't read them, you have many hours of smart, witty, lighthearted reading ahead.

But what to drink with them, you ask? Well, here's the thing: the characters in the Dortmunder series (a bunch of sometimes-bumbling, sometimes-competent criminals, much like you'd find in any workplace, only this is a New York-based crime ring), always meet in a bar to plan their next scheme. One trademark of the bar scenes i
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, mystery, audiobooks
Book Description
Nobody's Perfect reminds me of the old story about how for lack of a nail . . . the kingdom is lost. Little things matter a lot in this story, so pay close attention! As the book opens, Dortmunder is about to begin a defense against being caught red-handed with a stack of television sets he is stealing. As a twice-convicted felon, that's bad news. Suddenly, in walks one of the great criminal defense attorneys, J. Radcliffe Stonewiler, Esq., and in an hour-and-a-half Dortmunder is
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe  Noir
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another example of why Westlake will always be the master of the truly entertaining crime novel. Whether violent noir (Parker-writing as Richard Stark) or hilarious caper. This is the fourth entry in the Dortmunder series. This could be the most satisfying novel of the first four, but all of them are very good. The reader knows things will not go as planned. There will be unexpected twists and turns, and reversals of fortune. A couple of characters who will reappear in later books aren’t as well ...more
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it
A Review of the Audiobook

Published by HighBridge Audio (Mysterious Press- HighBridge Audio Classics) in 2013.
Read by Jeff Woodman
Duration: 7 hours, 24 minutes
Originally published in 1977.

This is my first Dortmunder novel. I know this is a classic series and I was looking forward to hearing it once I saw HighBridge audio was re-issuing these books.

Nobody's Perfect features master thief (who always has the worst luck) Dortmunder being recruited by a "rich" man who has run out of cash t
Josh Hamacher
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny
Dortmunder is hired to set up a heist - help a rich art collector/playboy with more expenditures than income balance his books by "stealing" a painting. The collector will then collect the insurance money and give a cut of the money to Dortmunder in exchange for the return of his art. You would think that stealing a painting with the assistance of the owner would be easy, but of course things don't quite go according to plan.

This novel also introduces one of my favorite Dortmunder characters, Ti
Mark Passerrello
A rich man with money problem hopes ease his bottom line woes with a little insurance fraud: he thinks to hire a thief to steal a painting, collect the insurance money and his painting. It should go smoothly but does not-the thief he hires is John Dortmunder. An antihero with a profound lack of luck, this fourth volume to feature semi-successful crook Dortmunder shows him in fine form, which for him means a caper strewn with comic misteps and failure wrung painfully but completely out of victor ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Better than its predecessor, this time the complications the gang face in heisting a painting aren't the results of their own stupidity (as was the case of every difficulty in "Jimmy the Kid") but from outside parties. The painting gets stolen and stolen and stolen, similar to the emerald in "The Hot Rock" and that makes for a pleasant time all around.
Tomas Chaigneau
You know what you're getting with Westlake, and if you're in the right mood, the Dortmunder series are just perfect. It reads like an episode of Hustle, but makes you laugh along the way as if you've known the characters for ages!

I wouldn't want to read too many in a row they are quite formulaic! But no more than most authors.

Dortmunder and his crew are contracted to steal a painting. It's the owner who wants the painting stolen so he can claim the insurance money. He sets everything up and cooperates with Dortmunder so what could possibly go wrong? If you have read any of the books in this series you will know the answer to that.

Good, fun, entertaining read as are all the others.
Denise M.
Sep 13, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a HUGE Westlake fan, so my reviews will always be biased, but I love this book. Dortmunder plans this heist, and for once it looks as if all went well. Then, well, let's just say it's back to the same old bad luck for his gang of bumbling criminals.
Nan Silvernail
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If a rich playboy, finding himself a little short of money, wants his own painting stolen for an insurance scam, Dortmunder and his gang are ready to help out, for a fee. It should go just as easy as pie, right? What's the worst that could happen?
Let's find out, shall we?
Mary Newcomb
Dortmunder and his string again find themselves in a challenging situation. This tale involves an elevator shaft, a drunken brawl and multiple cons. Always entertaining!
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even better than The Hot Rock imho
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hardcore! Wonderful! Everything was better before...
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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

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)
  • Why Me? (Dortmunder, #5)
  • 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)
“Dortmunder had helped by expressing doubts. “If the Puerto Ricans all come here,” he’d said, for instance, “how come it’s such a hot idea for us to go there?” Another time, he’d expressed the opinion that airplanes were too heavy to fly, and a little later he’d pointed out he didn’t have a passport. “You don’t need a passport,” May told him. “Puerto Rico’s part of the US.” He stared at her. “The hell it is.” But it turned out she was right about that; Puerto Rico wasn’t exactly a state, but it was something in the United States of America—maybe it was “of.” 2 likes
“However, inflation and unemployment have affected the shopping centers at least as much as the rest of the economy, so that here and there among the brave enticements stood a storefront dark, silent, its windows black, its forehead nameless, its prospects bleak. The survivors seemed to beam the more brightly in their efforts to distract attention from their fallen comrades, but Dortmunder could see them. Dortmunder and a failed enterprise could always recognize one another.” 2 likes
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