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Jimmy the Kid

(Dortmunder #3)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,295 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Taking cues from a pulp novel, Dortmunder arranges a kidnapping

Kelp has a plan, and John Dortmunder knows that means trouble. His friend Kelp is a jinx, and his schemes, no matter how well intentioned, tend to spiral quickly out of control. But this one, Kelp swears, is airtight. He read it in a book. In county lock-up for a traffic charge, Kelp came across a library of tr
Paperback, 194 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Road (first published 1974)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,295 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Andy Kelp gets the bright idea of using a plan from a Richard Stark novel to pull off the kidnapping of a rich kid and hold him for ransom. Dortmunder eventually caves and decides to go along with the plan, only to quickly realize he shouldn't have. The kid they choose ends up being a precocious little bastard and things start going wrong. Not everything works like it does in the books...

The best way I can summarize this one is to say Hilarious. Dortmunder is still the loveable loser introduced
David Schaafsma
Donald Westlake is one of the great mystery writers of all time, but I had only until now read works he wrote under a pseudonym, Richard Stark, a series featuring a cold-blooded criminal known only as Parker, and a spin-off series featuring a minor character from the Parker series, Alan Grofield.

I thought I would try one of the Westlake comic capers, some of which were made into movies. I usually like to read them in order, but this third one had an appealing premise. The main thief here is Dort
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess when Donald Westlake wrote ‘Jimmy The Kid’ it was as a final goodbye to Parker. He’d already given us the great, epic Parker novel ‘Butcher’s Moon’ and this was the final kiss-off. The Parker character was wrapped in with Westlake’s more comic perennial, Dortmunder, and I suspect – in 1974 – that Westlake thought he would ride his comic creation to fame and glory. That he would become the crime P.G. Wodehouse known to millions. It didn’t quite work out that way. Much like Lee Marvin in ‘ ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2018-19-season
Third in the series, with a cute concept and a central conceit that will payoff on a second level for those now familiar with the author, but ultimately a thin read more concerned with setting up jokes than plot.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continue to binge on Westlake. This one deserves at least a 4 1/2. I had put off reading it because I anticipated a "Home Alone" type scenario. I decided I wanted to continue with my Dortmunder so I would have to get this out of the way if I wanted to read the series in order. Well...I was mistaken. This book actually had me laughing very often. Definitely the funniest so far of Dortmunder and a very clever premise which brings the Parker books and author Richard Stark (Westlake) into the scen ...more
Jonathan Dunsky
Jimmy The Kid is the third installment in mystery Grandmaster Donald Westlake's Dortmunder series of comedy crime novels. This one is hilarious and its premise is superb.

Kelp, the guy who always comes to Dortmunder with the "next big idea" finds and reads a book called Child Heist by a Richard Stark that tells the story of a criminal called Parker and his gang who kidnap and ransom off a kid. Richard Stark is a penname Westlake used to write his masterful Parker series, one of the best crime ser
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

With the third installment the author decided it wasn’t sufficient to cause the gang to fail based on their own. No, this time, he makes them fail while following a caper that appears in a crime novel. Andy Kelp has been in a local pokey for a few days and while he was eventually let go, he had the time and opportunity to read the novel Child Heist by Richard Stark. He was so impressed with the contents of this book that he buys several copies and hands them out to his friends.

The trick is t
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, humor
Jimmy The Kid is a strange book, where Westlake parodies the books he wrote under the name of Richard Stark.

Dortmunder's friend, Andy Kelp, read a book about a fictional thief, named Parker, and wants to use the book as a blueprint for his own crime.

They kidnap a kid genius, and right when you think something like The Ransom of Red Chief will happen, it doesn't, but much other hilarity happens.

It's hilarious on so many levels.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
As brilliant as it is self-indulgent, the third Dortmunder novel will delight Westlake fans in general and Parker fans in particular. If you already know anything about Jimmy the Kid, then you already know too much. Read it before you learn more.
Best book in the series so far of the 3 books i have read.

Very funny, quality dialogues.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, and funny! It's a book within a book, and a movie of it all too!

Basically, Westlake gives us a Dortmunder and gang book called "Jimmy the Kid" that follows along another "book" by Richard Stark (wink,wink!) titled, "Child Heist" which features Parker! Kelp wants to use "Child Heist" as a blueprint for their next "job", but of course, the Dortmunder gang has an entirely different experience than the Parker gang! Loved the double layer of this story, great humor, and fun ending too! Definitel
Noah Goats
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny little crime caper. Nicely plotted and consistently amusing.
Luca Rotondo
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really a fun read..Dortmunder and his fellow colleagues always manage to bring a smile to my face!
Mal Warwick
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the course of his 75 years, Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) published more than 100 novels and nonfiction books. He's best known for his comic stories about crime capers, especially the fourteen books in the Dortmunder series about (to crib a phrase from Jimmy Breslin) a "gang that couldn't shoot straight." He wrote under numerous pen names, but the Dortmunder novels published from 1970 to 2009 all appeared under his own. They're all funny, sometimes hilarious, but are otherwise typically stra ...more
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with an appreciation for postmodern crime farces
Andy Kelp once again comes up with the fool-proof caper: plan a kidnapping using Richard Stark's (mythical) novel CHILD HEIST as a blueprint. What could go wrong? They get away with it in the novel!
Needless to say, as in any Dortmunder story, things tend to go hilariously wrong.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I keep waiting for these books to become repetitive or for the joke to get old, but this easily the funniest one so far.
Dortmunder, May, Kelp, Murch and Murch's mom attempt a kidnapping for ransom based on a book called Child Heist by Richard Stark (wink) that Kelp read while passing a handful of days in jail.

As usual, the best laid plans go hilariously wrong. The more things go wrong, the more frustrated poor long-suffering Dortmunder becomes, and the funnier it gets. There's so much that's funny about this story, but the phone conversations between Murch's mom and Jimmy's father, especially when they're trying
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was hilarious! Donald Westlake spoofs his own work under his pseudonym Richard Stark.

One of Dortmunder's friends reads a Parker novel about a kidnapping and decides this book is the perfect blueprint to polly off the real life caper. Needless to say things don't go anything like the book and hilarity ensues.

R.I.P Mr. Westlake. You magnificent bastard.

Ps. Loved it even more because I'm obsessed with Parker and he and those books were the beginning of my crime noir obsession.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delight! Although the blurb gives no indication that this a comedy caper, it's got more laugh-out-loud moments than most so-called comedies. Westlake has fun parodying himself, even using one of his pen names as the author of the book the gang uses as their blueprint. Published in the mid-70s, the NY subway uses tokens and there are no cell phones, but the caper is still good fun.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-swashbuckling
Dortmunder's nice recap of the previous installments:

«The last time I listened to you, I wound up running all over Long Island with a stolen bank, and what did I get out of it? A head cold» [...] «And the time before that, you remember what that was? That other time I listened to you? That goddam Balabomo Emerald, remember that one?»

Quite interesting Murch's philosophy: ... It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

As usual, lots of laughs.
Sally Peters
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny!
Book Concierge

John Dortmunder is at it again. Talked into a “perfect” kidnapping plot by his “friend” and previous cohort, Andy Kelp, he tries everything to pull of the big caper that is certain to make the gang a fortune. Recently, while a guest of the county for possessing burglar tools, Kelp came across an interesting mystery story in the prison library. Child Heist by Richard Stark outlines a perfect crime – the kid is unharmed, and the kidnappers get away scot free. All the details are there, they
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2013, own, kindle
A group of kidnappers use a fictitious Richard Stark novel as a blueprint to abduct a wealthy kid for ransom. Leader of the group Dortmunder has reservations but is coaxed into following the script after the other members of the group determine the novel idea is a full proof way to make some serious cash.

Jimmy, the kidnapped boy is more than Dortmunder and crew bargain for. A child genius who out smarts his kidnappers time and time again throughout what is a rollercoaster ride of laughs and lig
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An excellent crime comedy, with some really funny situations, especially the times when we are given a chapter of Child Heist (the book-within-the-book, a fake Parker novel by author Westlake's Richard Stark pseudonym) in which we see 'the plan' according to Parker, followed by a chapter in which Dortmunder and his accomplices try to replicate said 'plan' and see it get screwed up somehow and fall apart; or the times when they get frazzled or confused because the people in real life don't react ...more
Jacob Atkinson
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do you follow up a book about stealing a whole bank? A child heist where you follow the heist as written in a BOOK!!!! Not just any book but a Parker novel, written by Richard Stark. The idea came about because the publisher of Stark was getting outside pressure that continuing to publish the Stark works was bad because the heists were believable and possibly giving crooks ideas.

The result?!? Westlake writes a Dortmunder novel doing just that. What neither publisher was aware of was that Wes
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For my father's sake!
It was one of his books that got lost on one of our movings - maybe it's in my brother's house, pity I can't call him! But I was forbidden to read it 40 years ago when my father and ome aunts and uncles of mine were saying it was hilarious. I foud it again on line - and I have to admit that, even if a little dated, it is funny indeed!
Links with people of the past that keep turning up ... I like it!!!
If you've been a mystery and crime fiction
reader for some time, you probably know that Westlake was a master storyteller who wrote under several names. In this novel about Dortmunder the grouchy thief, he creates a sendup of his alternative self. Funny, sad, and entertaining, as usual. Somehow, I'd missed this installment. Don't make the same mistake.
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dortmunder and gang stage a kidnapping following the plan in a book by some guy named Stark. As usual, things don't go as planned.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wickedly funny little crime novel, and a clever bit of metafiction to boot.
Dec 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haiku, auth-m, y-2016
Do it by the book
just stick to the script, Jimmy
no need to show off.
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Around the Year i...: Jimmy the Kid, by Donald E Westlake 1 9 Jan 29, 2019 11:30PM  

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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)
  • Nobody's Perfect (Dortmunder, #4)
  • 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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