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Thieves' Dozen

(Dortmunder #12)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  666 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Featuring Westlake's hapless hero John Dortmunder, this original compilation of short stories ties in to the author's latest Dortmunder hardcover, "The Road to Ruin." ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Mysterious Press
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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It turns out that short stories about luckless professional thief John Dortmunder are just as enjoyable as his novel length adventures.

As the late Donald Westlake explains in a brief introduction, he never planned for Dortmunder to be more than the main character in a single novel, but that turned into a very successful series. Over the years, he’d have the occasional odd idea that wasn’t enough for a novel, and somehow found that he’d written enough short stories for a collection.

Most of these
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: x2019-20-season
Short stories and errata better than the later novels.
Ann McReynolds
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There has never been nor will there ever be as witty a writer as Donald Westlake. In each of the 12 short stories which make up “Thieves’ Dozen”, his scheme is laid out in a few crisp sentences, such as stealing a champion race horse, Even the asides on names chosen (Abby’s Elbow), and the delectable explanation for breeding the mincing stallion (Dire Straits)
bounce merrily along as the pair make their way through the manure strewn pasture. Each story in this collection shows the inimitable hand
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who finds the name "Diddums" ("it's Welsh") hysterically funny
Yes, I am desperate for Dortmunders: they are almost all out of print. It was with reservations that I desperately clutched at this slim volume when I chanced upon it at Aardvark; I couldn't imagine the brilliance that is Dortmunder translating into the short story format, since the glory of Dortmunder lies in the slow, inexorable build-up.
Needless to say, I was selling Westlake short; these stories represent a pure distillation of Dortmunder, including a story generated when some evil Hollywood
Carol Jean
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These are a lot of fun, like a tray of Dortmunder appetizers. And just as clever as the big ones.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
I just love Dortmunder, or Diddums (it's Welsh), and all the gang. The regulars at OJs always make me laugh out loud. These stories are a smattering of Dortmunder, but still grand.

On a literary landscape filled with cunning criminal masterminds, Donald E. Westlake's John Dortmunder is in a league of his own. With no scam too outrageous to contemplate, and no plan too simple to go wrong, this quirky career thief has stolen everything from money buried under a reservoir to a ban
Absolutely hilarious! Dortmunder is an absolute delight in short form, and I kinda like that these were more or less stories and him (with a side helping of Andy Kelp). He can get lost in the longer novels, but here, he can really shine.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
When you are done with the Dortmunder novels, you still have the Dortmunder short stories to read. Will you enjoy them? Of course. Would you trade them for one more novel? Of course.
Jeffrey Powanda
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
How could I pass up this collection of 12 comic heist stories featuring John Dortmunder and his gang of colorful New York crooks for only $2? It was a steal.

Is it funny? You bet. Several of the stories are hilarious. Some were just OK and made me smile. Aside from the numerous gags, Westlake's lovable crew can always be counted on for wildly entertaining heists, and there are plenty to enjoy here. There's also Westlake's incomparable wit about New York and the quirky people who live and work the
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sheer delight. A crook who will make you smile, perhaps laugh out loud, and have you rooting for him as he strenuously avoids an honest day's work.

Eleven Dortmunder tales, among them Edgar award winner Too Many Crooks. The twelfth tale has an assortment of thieves, including an almost Dortmunder substitute, in full mayhem.
For fans, the introduction is worth it's weight in gold. The entire book is platinum.
Sandy Maguire
I didn't realize this was a collection of short stories until about three short stories in! Before that I was very confused. But it turns out that short stories are the right length for Dortmunder; he's sorta fun, but quickly loses his welcome --- so lots of short little scenarios are the perfect medium.

Some of these are quite good, others are not. All in all it's not an amazing read, but if you're in it this deep, you might as well.
Laughter truly is the best medicine, and what's better for a big, hearty horse laugh than Dortmunder and Andy Kelp stealing a racehorse from a farm in New Jersey? Or foiling a bank robbery, running down a wanted terrorist, breaking up celebrity engagements, or assisting the ruin of a shoddy undercover operation? ...more
Richard Peck
Aug 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
The first collection of short stories featuring Westlake's hapless hero with a heart, John Dortmunder. A great introduction if you've never read any of the Dortmunder novels, which I recommend highly. Hoping to read and post thoughts on more of the novels soon, but if you're interested in crime light and easy like a gentle spring shower, with ample humor to go around, start here. ...more
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For fans of the Dortmunder series, these are 12 short stories that provide some mini-capers. The last one is sort of an alternate universe story with characters who are basically the same, but not quite.
Lori Hatch
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book, 12 short stories with truly funny off-beat humor.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Dortmunder short stories - onto the next one, which I hope is a full novel this time.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sheer delight. Westlake presents a selection of finely tuned comic pieces featuring John Dortmunder
John Frasene
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
As a fan of Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder character, I really enjoyed these short stories. I think Dortmunder and the gang exist better in novel form, but these are fun. ...more
George Polansky
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westlake, dortmunder
Short stories featuring Dortmunder.
May 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Only read the “Too Many Crooks” story. It was okay.
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Love the intro by Westlake.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like all collections of short stories, Thieves' Dozen, (view spoiler) has it's ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Of the thieves' dozen, the ones that bear the most resemblance to the novels were the most enjoyable from my point of view. But these stories, even the best ones, are still only essence of Dortmunder. There are bare hints of the what-goes-around-comes-around plotting of the Dortmunder books and Dortmunder is forced to work shor ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
So I read this excellent piece a while back in Grantland about Donald Westlake, and then found this very persuasive reader's guide to his work, which I, at least, found pretty useful; we seem to share the same aesthetic. (I also discovered from my 30 minutes of research that Ethan Iverson, the piano player from the Bad Plus, a band I kind of like [semi-ironic jazz covers of prog classics], is in his spare time a noir scholar, which is heroic.) Anyway, so I made my way through a lot of Westlake. ...more
This is an interesting read, mostly on a meta level; it's fascinating to see how structurally different these stories are from Westlake's full-length Dortmunder books. Basically, this book is an excellent education in how to craft short stories as opposed to novels.

So on that level, the book is awesome. Unfortunately, a lot of the things I truly love about the Dortmunder series don't work as well in short form; there can't be any complicated plotting, for example, and the partners in crime mostl
Robert J. Sullivan
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Westlake is off and running from the title on in this collection of eleven stories, ten featuring that criminal mastermind-of-ill-fortune John 'Didums' Dortmunder, and one with Dortmunder's doppelganger. (Really, did you expect Dortmunder to not shortchange you on a dozen?)

John, with and without various members of his gang, tries to steal a 600 pound bronze statue, a horse, a famous broach, among other portable items of value, breaks into a bank in the middle of a hostage crisis, and, novelty of
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The world cannot have too much of John Archibald Dortmunder, and these twelve short stories about our favourite thief did very nicely until the next full-length novel came out. Technically only 11 stories are about Dortmunder and his crooked cronies, because the 12th story is about ... um, someone else. Kinda. Mr. Westlake explains it all in the foreword. It is, however, the funniest of the 12, and caused my father to fall out bed laughing, and hurt himself. (It's OK, Don; he won't sue). Westlak ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this immediately after reading "The Empty Hours" by Ed McBain. Liked both of these books, but I think I prefer the short-form for stories with characters I am not familiar with or grown to love. Having read a bunch of Dortmunder books, I felt like most of these stories, while clever and funny, didn't capture the essence of Dortmunder which, besides being a good name for a cologne, is the idea that crime doesn't pay and if it does it isn't worth the time you spend trying to get paid. ...more
Toby Martin
An excellent bunch of short shorties about a hard bitten New York Thief.

Life got in the way and I have yet to finished these stories,
but I will return.

The book came back around on the library check out list and I finished the stories.
All the stories in this book are shorts, I am now sorely tempted to check out one of the full length books.
Sep 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
this original compilation of short stories ties in to Westlake's latest Dortmunder book.
I don't usually read short stories. In this case, the characters flow from story to story.
I like that continuity.
An easy to read volume.
wonderful comedy. great cold/flu book to read.
Mark Schlatter
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A fun, light read. This is my first exposure to Westlake's more humorous work; almost everything else of his I've read has been Parker novels. I will probably pick up some Dortmunder stuff in the future. ...more
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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)
  • 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)

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