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Nobody's Perfect

(Dortmunder #4)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,142 ratings  ·  80 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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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,142 ratings  ·  80 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
Dave Schaafsma
My second Westlake Dortmunder series novel, comic crime caper gone south. A guy comes to Dortmunder and asks him to steal his valuable painting, entitled "Folly Leads to Man's Ruin," so he can split the insurance payout with him. He gathers his usual bunch of goofballs and ne'er-do-wells to help him do the job. Things go badly, of course, the guy talks him into another caper in London, which--you see, there's a pattern here--turns out also to be a (pretty funny) mess. Two "fake robberies."

I like
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
Carol Jean
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dortmunder gets involved in an insurance scam in this one -- and ends up being tailed by a hired killer. Westlake is endlessly creative.
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
Book Concierge
John Dortmunder and his team are back for their fourth “can’t fail” scheme. This time the “victim” has arranged the theft as part of an insurance scheme. Dortmunder and gang will steal the painting, sit on it until the insurance money is paid, then return it to the owner, collect their percentage of the insurance proceeds, and everyone walks away happy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Westlake has a way of putting obstacles in the path of his loveable gang of thieves that just tickles my funny bon
Sharon Ouderkirk
It was a nice break from our social media, in your face world to read a comic novel from 1977 where the unplugged criminal group actually had to meet in person at a designated meeting place in order to communicate. Remember those days? No cell phones, no Zoom, no Facebook, no internet. The lack of technology added time and effort to the plot: they took a long, onerous path to get together to talk to each other, Dortmunder needed to be driven around London to familiarize himself with the streets ...more
Ken Oder
This is my fourth read in the series about Dortmunder and his band of eccentric, humorous, slightly dimwitted small-time criminals. Each book is witty, the first two offering up a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes and predicaments, but this one dropped off the pace. Westlake tries too hard to be funny too often and it detracts from the legitimate humor elsewhere in the book. Bank Shot is the best in the series, in my view. Jimmy the Kid is a close second. Wish I'd stopped with that one. ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2018-19-season
Still funny, but more concerned with jokes than criminal plans, and a heist novel without any law officers to act as foil is just odd.
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
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
Sep 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is another fun Dortmunder book. A crime that is planned out perfectly somehow goes awry and Dortmunder and company need to find a way to make it right.

I found it enjoyable and it moved quickly enough that I never felt like it was dragging, as usual a fun romp.
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
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. ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uno-2019
I love that the last thing this author would ever do is fall back on convenience in his story. That makes for a bad wrap for poor Dortmunder, but creates a tight, smart story for the reader.

Nobody's Perfect is just as fast paced, funny, well thought out, and intelligent as the previous books have been. Looking forward to starting the next one sooner rather than later.
So Dortmunder always puts together a perfect plan and then he assembles the perfect team in search of the perfect crime. But then things go wrong and then the wrong things compile and things get messy and complicated. He will ultimately find his way through but usually no richer nor wiser than when he started. And that is why there will another book to follow.
Another hilariously bonkers adventure, much in the vein of The Hot Rock. Instead of an emerald, this time Dortmunder & co are chasing a painting aptly titled Folly Leads Man to Ruin. The painting's owner, Chauncey, is in desperate need of funds (as only the wealthy can be), so he hires Dortmunder to steal the painting so that he (Chauncey) can collect the insurance money. Chauncey's already pulled this scheme twice before, simply hiding the paintings out of sight, and the insurance company was v ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: starklake
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
Robert Starr
For me, reading is often an endeavor of discovery. It's not necessarily wondering what happens next, but more what I'm reading next. There are so many authors out there waiting to be read by me. And every book I start by a new author gives me hope that I've unearthed something special.

Of course, most of the time, I end up disappointed. Good authors — really good ones — are hard to find. Of course, there are plenty of critical darlings with a knack for prose, but that's not what I'm looking for.
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english
With a well worked out plot, plenty of humor that generates not only smiles but also the occasional
laughing-out-loud, and a refreshing political incorrectness this book deserves its place in the pantheon of literature. Sadly that place is guarded by a special breed of stuck up twits who pull up their nose for anything that might actually amuse people.
Picking a favorite part is difficult but if I must…Kelp’s driving skills in London was true comedy genius.
As for quotes… “his limp had progressed
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
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Many Westlakeans will allege that Dortmunder is his greatest character. I’m tempted to agree. He’s the quintessential born loser— a working criminal who isn’t inept but just seems to catch a lot of bad breaks. Plenty goes wrong for him in this novel, where he’s hired to steal a painting as a way to commit some basic insurance fraud, and ultimately finds himself hounded by an assassin while trying to figure out how the real painting got mixed up with a couple fakes. Sounds complicated, but actual ...more
Rodger Payne
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. ...more
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fourth and last of my Westlake retrospective. What the abridged courtroom drama at the start of the book lacks in realism, it makes up for with sheer cheek. This one is almost as good as the Hot Rock, with some laugh-out-loud lines and plenty of imaginative heist action. Warmly recommended for comic heist fans. At some point I'll collect the non-comic Stark/Parker books and see how they compare. ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good book - don't pass it by - but not one of the best. I really disliked the very last scene, just done for comedy and doesn't really resolve anything. But the rest of it is worthwhile and if you like reading about Dortmunder, you should read it. ...more
Robert Felice
So many typos

Good story, marred by too many typos, in the Kindle edition, at least. Running the text through a spell checker would have caught a fair number of them.

Of course, given the book's title, maybe all the typos are a joke on the reader. If so, the joke isn't funny.
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Play Book Tag: Nobody's Perfect / Donald E Westlake - 3*** 1 9 Oct 17, 2019 05:50PM  

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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 Park ...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)

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“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.” 3 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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