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Bad News

(Dortmunder #10)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,185 ratings  ·  77 reviews
John Dortmunder doesn't like manual labor. So when he gets the offer of money to dig up a grave, he balks . . . then he wonders why Fitzroy Guilderpost, criminal mastermind, wants to pull a switcheroo of two 70-years-dead Indians. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 26th 2002 by Warner Books (NY) (first published April 11th 2001)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  1,185 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thieves, mystery
I've always had a soft spot for thieves and the heist stories are what I love the most. Maybe I didn't expect to like this story so much, although I don't really know why. Everything I've always liked is here. But perhaps the most surprised I was that I hadn't read any of this author's can’t wait to do it.

I enjoyed so many things in this book. A complex plot, this whole idea of a crime, but probably mostly complicated and multi-dimensional characters. It is the characters that make me look forwa
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noirboiled
An excellent Dortmunder in which Westlake succumbs to his weakness for low-hanging fruit only when he has to name law firms. (Kleinberg, Rhineberg, Steinberg, Weinberg & Klatsch, anyone?) This time out, Dortmunder helps to create a false heir to 1/3 of an Indian casino, and much of the fun is the route by which he ends up participating in this job that is far from his usual line of (illegal) work. While Bad News lacks the (surprising) gravitas of some of the preceding novels in the series, by th ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Although Bad News is the tenth novel in the Dortmunder series, I accidentally read it after the 11th, The Road to Ruin. As I noted in that book’s review, John et al do not seem to age, but their world does advance along with our own. So, in this book, we have the technologically-astute Andy Kelp using the Internet (when he still can’t convince John to get a kitchen extension for his landline.) In fact the Internet is how John and Andy get involved with the main story arc. More on that in a momen
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: x2019-20-season
Closer in spirit to the early novels, but the madcap sense is really missing, and the seeming need to shoehorn in recurring gags, inside jokes and callbacks is a drag on the tale.
Edward Weiss
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
OK, perhaps none of the Dortmunder novels can be considered 5-star, but I still love 'em! ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
John Dortmunder, robber, finds himself, along with his friend Andy Kelp in a con game put together by a master manipulator Fitzroy Guilderpost, that Andy met on the internet. Will John Dortmunder find his way in and around this hustle and score some much needed income, or will it be a dose of bad news? Donald E. Westlake spins a yarn of inept criminal behavior that brings the laughs as always.
Nan Silvernail
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dortmunder and his crew run into another team of people doing an interesting thing. The interesting thing is to try to pass off a Native American Las Vegas showgirl as the last of a tribe. Why? To horn in on the considerable profits of a Northeast casino that two tribes run, the third tribe being extinct.
Exactly how they have it planned out interests Dortmunder, whose keen criminal mind is challenged and vexed by this pretty problem.
Be sure to bring Lawyers, Guns and Money because on this chil
Lyle Boylen
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant book in the John Dortmunder series.
Ann McReynolds
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this caper, like all the other Dortmunders, and agree with Mike’s review except my rating is a 5 just for the quick thinking that extricates Archibald John Dortmunder from the optician’s shop, the police and back to his faithful May.
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun! A classic example of Donald E. Westlake's humorous crime fiction – more caper story than classic style mystery – with plenty of unexpected turns as the story progresses.

This is the second book I've read in the Dortmunder series. Wasn't crazy about the first (Drowned Hopes — Dortmunder #7) but I’ve always been a fan of Westlake’s other work so I decided to give the series another try. So glad I did.

At first things go unusually well for Dortmunder and crew (at one point Dortmunder act
John  Bellamy
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I should probably pay more attention to my older brother's book recommendations,although I must add that my younger brother rarely pays attention to mine. After decades of nagging by the former sibling I finally broke down this year and started reading both Donald Westlake's Dortmunder boooks and the Parker series he wrote under the name of Richard Stark. "Bad News," the 10th of the Dortmunder capers is where I began and I'll be reading the rest of them as soon as humanely possible. Lots of writ ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery, crime, humor
#10 in the John Dortmunder series. Finalist 2002 Barry Award for Best Novel.

#10 - John Dortmunder series - Andy Kelp, Tiny Bulcher and the Murches (Stan and Mom) join Dortmunder in horning in on another crew's scam—cheating two Native American tribes out of one-third of the take from a lucrative Indian casino in upstate New York. Fitzroy Guilderpost, mastermind of the con, has enlisted Little Feather Redcorn, a Las Vegas card dealer and showgirl, to pose as the last living member of an extinct
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Dortmunder and his odd group of friends get involved with some bad people, and find themselves digging up a grave and exchanging bodies as a result. That sounds like a good plot hook, but the dim powers of analysis possessed by Dortmunder and his pals puts them in bad situations almost automatically. The book's good start is typical Dortmunder: superior B&E skills stymied by failure to case the alarm system adequately lead to a situation in which Dortmunder has to achieve near brilliance to get ...more
Susan Katz
John Dortmunder is one of my all-time favorite characters. When I found this book for the first time, I rushed home, joyfully chortling, "I got Bad News! I got Bad News!" to face the twin flummoxed/alarmed stares of husband and son. When I explained that it was a Dortmunder book, their relieved comprehension was palpable. This time around, the book brought me no less joy and amusement than the first time.
Steve Millman
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it
not a bad book but not great either. The characters in the Dortmunder books always seem a bit flat to me.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Amusing. The characters are all scamps living in a world unto themselves. The author brings the reader along for many a wild ride with the appealing crew.
Mrs. Read
May 30, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the Dortmunder books and the only disappointment about Donald Westlake’s Bad News was that people got killed in it, unusual in this series, even for the bad guys (if Westlake was going to resort to murder I wish he’d gone for Arnie Albright, the point of whom I’ve never seen). On the other hand, the basic plot was both funny and truly original, although the Bunnion epicycle seemed to have been invented mainly for bulk.
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about the Dortmunder books is that
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a prime example of why I don't like to quit on books too soon. A few pages in, this felt like a smart alec version of one of those smart alec detective shows on USA Network. I felt the novel would be tolerable at best, excruciating otherwise.

300 pages later, this ended up being a very good read. I laughed more than I would want to admit. The crime part of this caper novel was interesting, the camaraderie of the teammates was just right, the double crosses were unfortunate but entert
Francis Washington
Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Westlake's genius, like Bukowski's and Hemingway's, and so on, is not so much as flowery prose as it is identifying and describing that which is hidden in plain sight.

Highly recommended, especially for the cynical small-town judge who sees his job as "certifying stupidity", which is an interesting concept when expanded beyond just issuing jail sentences to such things as tattoos, scars, dents in your mom's car, etc. I've read thousands of books and yet nobody has ever identified that particular
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A pretty good entry into the Dortmunder series. In this one the boys get involved in an already hatched scheme to get Little Feather Redcorn, a former Las Vegas showgirl, recognized as the last surviving member of a tribe with part ownership in a lucrative casino in upstate New York. One unexpected obstacle after another, each more problematic than the last. But the plot seemed a bit disjointed, and the doling out of poetic justice in the end wasn't quite what I would have liked. ...more
Andrew Cowen
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! My previous association with a Westlake book (the lame "Somebody Owes Me Money") didn't turn out as well. This was my first Dortmunder book and I plan to read others in the series. "Bad News" is great news for people who just want to laugh during these crazy mixed-up times. Highly recommended! ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it liked it
6/10 - The novel opens with hapless Dortmunder stuck mid-robbery in a big-box store with a mass of cops and security guards closing in on him. It is one of funniest scenes of all the Westlake novels I have read. The remainder of the novel is good, but does not maintain that initial rush. Overall, it's an enjoyable entry in the Dortmunder series. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's over a year since I've read any Westlake. Why have I waited so long? Every time I read him I thoroughly enjoy it and ask myself that same question. This is a Dortmunder novel. I always viewed Dortmunder as Westlake's satire on his Parker character. There are still of couple of Dortmunders that haven't made it to Kindle yet. I hope they get there soon. ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starts out with a short tale of a failed robbery that's worth the price of the book alone and keeps getting better as the main plot develops with a cast of picturesque characters, double crosses, ironic comeuppances and a a judge who sees all crimes as stupidity. A totally enjoyable read. ...more
Philip Gross
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I chose this book because it was available for download from my library. As it turns out I was very entertained reading it. Crazy characters and a wild story line adds up to a good read. I intend to read more Westlake titles in the near future.
Mary Newcomb
A Dortmunder tale is always entertaining and slightly felonious, this is no exception. The main scam becomes a bit confused due to the presence of some other pranksters. However, John and his string do their best to resolve all in their favor.
Carol Jean
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yet another incredibly complicated caper, this one involving grave robbing in order to provide matching DNA for an Indian woman's claim to belong to a tribe which owns a casino -- then house robbing to provide matching hair when the bodies get switched. Don't ask! ...more
Dan Seitz
Oct 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Westlake breaks form again with Dortmunder crossing paths with a scammer trying to insert a cutout into a casino on a Native reservation. The Native stuff hasn't aged well, which is distracting and unfortunate, but the twists and turns are still delightful. ...more
Mahesh Phadke
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Westlake in his elements. :) The book loses grip in the middle, but still a 5 star book for me.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Excellent silly Dortmunder book
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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)
  • The Road To Ruin (Dortmunder, #11)

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